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Militant Islamist fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of northern Raqqa province

There's time for prudence in addressing ISIS threat

09/02/14 12:44PM

Over the weekend, the Century Foundation's Michael Cohen had a terrific piece in the New York Daily News, making the case against pundits and politicians demanding more U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. The same edition of the same paper on the same day had a five-word, all-caps headline on the front page: "ISIS will be here soon."
There's quite a bit of this going around. President Obama's Republican critics haven't just condemned his foreign policy, they've also suggested the White House's approach will lead to a terrorist attack on American soil. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went further than most a few weeks ago, insisting that if Obama "does not go on the offensive against ISIS," presumably in Syria, "they are coming here." Graham added, "[I]f we do get attacked, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages."
Rhetoric like this isn't subtle: ISIS wants to kill us all and that rascally Obama is doing nothing except launching several dozen airstrikes on ISIS target in Iraq. A 9/11 kind of event may be in the planning stages, the argument goes, so the president must strike in Syria immediately.
But how imminent a threat are we talking about, exactly? The New York Times reported the other day on ISIS's "prodigious" print and online materials, which reveal some relevant details.
ISIS propaganda, for instance, has strikingly few calls for attacks on the West, even though its most notorious video, among Americans, released 12 days ago, showed the beheading of the American journalist James Foley, threatened another American hostage, and said that American attacks on ISIS "would result in the bloodshed" of Americans. This diverged from nearly all of ISIS's varied output, which promotes its paramount goal: to secure and expand the Islamic state.
The same article quoted a scholar who said ISIS has consistently focused on what militants call "the near enemy" -- leaders of Muslim countries like Bashar al-Assad of Syria -- and not "the far enemy" of the United States and Europe. "The struggle against the Americans and the Israelis is distant, not a priority," Fawaz A. Gerges said. "It has to await liberation at home."
The piece added, "Al Qaeda has often stressed the advantage to the terrorist network of supporters who hold Western passports and can attack in their countries. But a common public rite of passage for new recruits to ISIS is tearing up or burning their passports, signifying a no-going-back commitment to the Islamic state."
I wonder if Lindsey Graham read the article.

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.2.14

09/02/14 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
* The latest Bluegrass Poll in Kentucky shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R) lead over Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) growing to four points, 46% to 42%. A month ago, the same poll showed McConnell up by two. This latest poll, however, was commissioned before law week's controversy about McConnell's private remarks at a Koch brothers' retreat and the resignation of the senator's campaign manager.
* South Dakota's U.S. Senate race is expected to be an easy pickup for Republicans, though Public Policy Polling's latest data suggests the contest is becoming more complex. Mike Rounds (R) still leads Rick Weiland (D), but the margin, at least in this one poll, is six points: 39% to 33%. Former Sen. Larry Pressler, running as an independent, is a competitive third with 17%.
* According to the Associated Press, pre-Labor Day campaign spending in the 2014 cycle reached $1 billion. Far more will be spent over the next nine weeks.
* In Minnesota, the latest KSTP-TV poll offers good news for both of the Democrats running statewide races this year. Sen. Al Franken (D) leads his Republican challenger in the poll by nine points, while Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is also up by nine.
* In Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee continues to go after Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) over his conservative approach to Medicare, including raising the eligibility age.
* The senator Cassidy hopes to defeat, incumbent Mary Landrieu, is facing residency questions because she's registered to vote at her parents' home address.
* In an unusual move, the Alaska Democratic Party's gubernatorial ticket is voluntarily ending its campaign and the party will instead throw its support to Bill Walker's independent gubernatorial bid. (Vermont Democrats rely on a similar tactic to back Bernie Sanders' independent Senate campaigns.)
Pro-choice activists hold signs as marchers of the annual March for Life arrive in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 22, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Reproductive-rights proponents score court victories in Texas, Louisiana

09/02/14 11:25AM

Since early 2011, state Republican officials have placed an enormous emphasis on restricting women's reproductive rights, and have generally been quite successful. But proponents of abortion rights have had one refuge: the courts.
This was evident late Friday in Texas.
A federal judge in Austin, Tex., blocked a stringent new rule on Friday that would have forced more than half of the state's remaining abortion clinics to close, the latest in a string of court decisions that have at least temporarily kept abortion clinics across the South from being shuttered.
The Texas rule, requiring all abortion clinics to meet the building, equipment and staffing standards of hospital-style surgery centers, had been set to take effect on Monday. But in his opinion, Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court in Austin said the mandate placed unjustified obstacles on women's access to abortion without providing significant medical benefits.
In the ruling, available online here, the George W. Bush appointee said Texas' rule "is unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a pre-viability abortion."
The news out of the Lone Star State coincided with a similar ruling in Louisiana, where a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing a new anti-abortion measure on admitting privileges.
The law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics. A lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights claims that doctors have not had enough time to obtain privileges, and that the law likely would force Louisiana's five clinics to close.
[Judge John W. deGravelles] said the doctors' risk of fines and losing licenses outweighed any injury to the state from keeping the status quo. He noted that the state health secretary said she would not enforce the law against doctors awaiting decisions from hospitals to which they have applied.
The judge, an Obama appointee, allowed the measure to take effect, but ruled that while the legal process continues, Louisiana cannot penalize those who break this law.
Both rulings come on the heels of related pro-choice victories in Alabama, North Dakota, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona and Idaho.
The broader question, however, is about how long these victories will stand.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, wipes his brow as he speaks during a discussion on the American family and cultural values." at Catholic University on July 23, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Rubio's health care project comes up empty in Florida

09/02/14 10:54AM

It's generally pretty tough to defend the health care system in Florida, though this report from the Tampa Bay Times actually makes it look a little worse.
Last year, legislators allocated $900,000 to help Floridians find affordable health care through a new state-backed website.
At the same time, they refused to expand Medicaid or work with the federal government to offer subsidized insurance plans.
Six months after the launch of the state's effort, called Florida Health Choices, just 30 people have signed up.
That's not a typo. We're not talking about 30% of the population; we're talking about literally just 30 individuals.
Charles Gaba crunched the numbers to find the costs per enrollee and found that Florida Health Choices is vastly more expensive than, say, the Affordable Care Act's, while offering much less.
Indeed, Florida Health Choices is not an exchange marketplace, where private insurers compete for consumers' business. It's not. In fact, it doesn't sell actual health insurance at all. Rather, Florida spent $900,000 on an online project that lists "limited benefit options and discount plans for items like dental visits, prescription drugs and eyeglasses."
And a whopping 30 people took advantage of these amazing opportunities.
Florida Health Choices administrators "acknowledge they are off to a slow start," but still hope to appeal to more customers, possibly by adding insurance options for pets.
Whose bright idea was Florida Health Choices in the first place? That would be Marco Rubio.
Lindsey Graham, John McCain

A stunted debate on ISIS

09/02/14 10:11AM

For the most part, President Obama's strategy in Iraq, complaints from the right notwithstanding, is proceeding as the White House had hoped. The administration delayed airstrikes on ISIS targets until there was a change in Iraqi political leadership and there were Iraqi forces on the ground prepared to engage.
The policy may not have congressional approval, but it is going the way the president and his national security team had hoped. Maliki is headed out; Iraqi forces are functioning; and as events in Amerli help demonstrate, ISIS's grip on key locations can be broken.
But that's not what most of the political world is focused on. Rather, it's a "gaffe" that has tongues wagging.
Obama said late last week that when it comes to confronting ISIS targets in Syria, the White House is still working with possible coalition partners and consulting with military leaders on possible strategies. "We don't have a strategy yet" for the next phase of the mission, the president said, but the process is still unfolding.
Reporters and Republicans still seem to find this outrageous. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said the president's comments were "scary." (When asked what he'd do differently, Christie said he didn't want to talk about it.) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also pretended to be outraged over the weekend, saying of ISIS, "We ought to bomb them back to the stone age." Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joined the pile on, though for different reasons.
But it was Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), both of whom still inexplicably claim to have credibility on matters of national security, who wrote a New York Times op-ed urging the White House to adopt the hawks' foreign policy.
After more than three years, almost 200,000 dead in Syria, the near collapse of Iraq, and the rise of the world's most sinister terrorist army -- the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has conquered vast swaths of both countries -- President Obama's admission this week that "we don't have a strategy yet" to deal with this threat is startling. It is also dangerous.
Actually, as recent history makes clear, what's far more dangerous is taking foreign policy advice from John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
A sign at an Affordable Care Act outreach event in Los Angeles, California, September 28, 2013.

Falling like dominoes: Red-state govs expanding Obamacare

09/02/14 09:19AM

As of a week ago, about half of the nation's states had embraced Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, while the other half seemed to be motivated almost entirely out of partisan spite. But in recent days, there's been a burst of unexpected activity on this issue.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) struck a deal with the Obama administration that will allow Medicaid expansion to cover another half-million low-income Americans in the Keystone State. A day later, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) said he expects to follow suit in the coming weeks.
Ruby-red Wyoming generally resists any voluntary federal program, but it, too, is starting to come around on Medicaid expansion. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), a fierce "Obamacare" critic, recently did the same.
And even Utah is moving forward with its Medicaid-expansion plans, though not without an unintentionally amusing debate.
Utah's health care debate took an unexpected turn at the State Capitol, where a lawmaker who is also a doctor argued that access to health care can be a bad thing.
Representative Mike Kennedy, a Republican from Alpine, made the comments in a Health Reform Task Force meeting, in reaction to a story from another doctor.... "Sometimes access actually can mean harm," said Representative Mike Kennedy, a family physician.
I've followed this debate closely for quite a while, and I have to admit, this is the first time I've seen an elected official argue -- out loud and on purpose -- that medical care may be bad for people. But in this case, a Utah state Republican and physician tried to defeat Medicaid expansion by sincerely making the case that hospitals can make Americans sicker.
"Sometimes access to health care can be damaging and dangerous," the GOP lawmaker said. "And it's a perspective for the [Legislative] body to consider is that, I've heard from National Institutes of Health and otherwise that we're killing up to a million, a million and a half people every year in our hospitals. And it's access to hospitals that's killing those people."
Ridiculous arguments notwithstanding, there is a larger trend here that's hard to overlook.
Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during an event at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, August 21, 2014.

Perry's border policy causes problems for Guard troops

09/02/14 08:50AM

The humanitarian crisis along the U.S./Mexico border has moved from the front page for a couple of reasons. The first, obviously, is that there have been some unrelated crises that have unfolded in recent weeks -- in Missouri, in Ukraine, in the Middle East -- that have dominated the news.
But the second is the fact that the number of unaccompanied children has dropped considerably. In his pre-Labor Day press conference, President Obama highlighted recent "progress," noting, "The number of apprehensions in August are down from July, and they're actually lower than they were August of last year. Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June. So we're seeing a significant downward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children."
It's a complex challenge and as Josh Voorhees explained the other day, it's hard to say with confidence exactly what's caused the recent trend.
But as that discussion continues to unfold, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) response to the situation is coming under new scrutiny. After he deployed National Guard troops for no particular reason, some of those troops reportedly reached out to a local food bank because the state hadn't fully planned for their deployment.
Last month, Perry announced he was sending 1,000 National Guard troops to defend the border in the wake of inaction from the federal government. The move was met with skepticism, especially from border town sheriffs who wanted the resources to go towards police officers, since National Guard troops aren't allowed to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants. Others balked at the price -- it will cost an estimated $12 million a month to sustain the troops, and as of last month the state wasn't sure how it would pay that price.
Now it seems that the troops arrived before the funds did. Democratic state Rep. Rene Olivera, who earlier condemned the "militarization" of the border, said "it's embarrassing that our troops have to stand in a food pantry line. This is the fault of the state."
Gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis (D) described the lack of resources "disgraceful" and the San Antonio Express-News reported that the state senator would personally deliver food to the Guard members over the weekend.
"Whether you agree that we need the National Guard or the additional deputy sheriffs that I have previously called for to secure the border, it is shameful that our troops would be sent to keep us safe without basic supplies like food," Davis said.
Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell, left, and Rand Paul address the media during a press conference, May 23, 2014, in Louisville, Ky.

Scandal forces ouster of McConnell campaign manager

09/02/14 08:00AM

Last year, Republican operative Jesse Benton was asked his role as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) campaign manager. Benton, whose remarks were being recorded without his knowledge, said, "I'm sort of holdin' my nose for two years" in order to help Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) presidential campaign in 2016.
It was an embarrassing moment for McConnell, as the public learned that even his own campaign manager doesn't like him. Twenty months later, however, it's apparently no longer an issue: Benton waited until late Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend to announce his resignation. As we talked about on Saturday, the move is the result of a growing bribery scandal.
Jesse Benton resigned as Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign manager Friday following reports that he had emerged as a figure in an endorsement scandal during the 2012 Iowa presidential caucus. [...]
He said that he resigned to avoid becoming a distraction to McConnell's re-election campaign, saying the "election is far too important and the stakes way too high."
In the same written statement, Benton included a Scriptural reference: "James 16:33. 'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'"
It was another unfortunate error: the Book of James has no 16th chapter. The Republican operative meant to quote the Book of John.
Regardless, there a few key angles to this story, which are likely to reverberate for the rest of this election cycle and into the next.
Let's start with the bribery scandal that has forced Benton's departure.

Labor Day, 2014

09/01/14 08:00AM

It's likely to be pretty slow today, so readers should expect a very light posting schedule. That said, I'll be around in case there's breaking news of interest.
As for Labor Day, President Obama is emphasizing the need for a minimum-wage hike; Republicans are talking up the "jobs bills" passed by the GOP-led House (they're not actual jobs bills); E.J. Dionne Jr. presents Market Basket as an example of a Labor Day tale with a happy ending; and msnbc's Tim Noah argues that liberals must "recommit themselves to labor unions."
The New York Times' editorial board, meanwhile, notes some recent progress on the labor front, though there's so much more work needs to be done.
There has been progress since last Labor Day. Mr. Obama has signed executive orders to improve the pay and working conditions of employees of federal contractors. The Labor Department is revising rules on overtime pay; simply updating them for inflation would make millions of additional workers eligible for time-and-a-half for overtime.
What is still lacking, however, is a full-employment agenda that regards labor, not corporations, as the center of the economy -- a change that would be a reversal of the priorities of the last 35 years.
Also take a look at Jared Bernstein's latest: "If you hear a Labor Day speech today, you'll probably and appropriately hear a call for replacing some of what American workers have lost over the years: bargaining power, wages, robust job opportunities, a fair social compact. And those are all highly relevant things to call for. But I think what's missing from our national debate over labor and the condition of working families -- those who depend on paychecks, not stock portfolios -- is something more fundamental: courage."
Jesse Benton, arrives at a campaign event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, on Dec. 28, 2011.

McConnell campaign manager resigns amid bribery scandal

08/30/14 02:18PM

The controversy started, oddly enough, six days before the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa.
In a development that was simply unheard of, state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R), the chair of Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign in Iowa, announced just six days before the caucuses that he was quitting Team Bachmann to support Ron Paul's presidential campaign.
At the time, the move seemed inexplicable, but this week we learned that the Ron Paul campaign paid Sorenson a $73,000 bribe to switch teams. Following a federal investigation into the incident, Sorenson pleaded guilty to two criminal counts associated with the bribe and the lies told to cover it up.
But the broader effects of the scandal didn't end with Sorenson's guilty plea. We know who received the bribe, but there's the unresolved matter of who paid the bribe.
The investigation remains ongoing and its effects have now reached Kentucky, where Jesse Benton resigned late yesterday as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) campaign manager, after Benton "emerged as a figure" in the controversy.
In an emailed statement Friday evening, Benton denied any involvement in the scandal.... Benton was Paul's political director at the time. [...]
Benton as well as former McConnell campaign consultant Dimitri Kesari -- who also worked for Paul -- were mentioned in documents gathered during an Iowa state ethics probe of Sorenson, a complaint to the Federal Election Commission and emails purported to be from the Paul campaign obtained by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors federal campaign finance issues.
For his part, Benton blasted "unsubstantiated media rumors" and insisted that the allegations surrounding his role in the Sorenson bribery scandal are "false."
If Benton is guilty of no wrongdoing, why resign late on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend? The Republican operative's statement added he feared "becoming a distraction" to Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign.
Benton's sudden resignation from the Senate Minority Leader's campaign, however, does not mark the end of the controversy.
Supreme Court Hears Susan B. Anthony List v Steve Driehaus Case

This Week in God, 8.30.14

08/30/14 09:23AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the real-world consequences of a Supreme Court ruling on the separation of church and state.
Remember Greece v. Galloway? The case dealt with local council meetings in Greece, N.Y., a Rochester suburb, which hosted an informal "chaplain of the month" to deliver an invocation before the board dealt with official business. Nearly all of the invited chaplains were Christian, and "more often than not," the Christian clergy "called on Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit to guide the council's deliberations."
Some local citizens sued, arguing that the First Amendment should prevent local government from incorporating Christian prayers into official community meetings. In a 5-4 decision handed down in May, the high court's conservatives disagreed, reversing a unanimous appellate court and concluding that "ceremonial prayer" is permissible.
This week, as Sahil Kapur reported, officials in Greece adopted a formal policy to put its prayer practices in place.
Less than four months [after the high court ruling], the town of Greece has adopted an invocation policy that excludes non-religious citizens and potentially shuts out faiths that aren't well-established in the town, according to a top secular group.
Seeking to "avail itself of the Supreme Court's recognition" that government prayer is constitutional, the new policy restricts opening remarks to "assemblies with an established presence in the Town of Greece that regularly meet for the primary purpose of sharing a religious perspective."
In practice, this suggests non-believers -- who lack "established" meetings to discuss religious perspectives -- may be deliberately excluded. The same is true for minority faiths who lack enough local members for an established congregation.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (and a long-time friend), told Kapur, "They said they're open to anybody. Now they're not open to anybody. It's really a scam.... They only want religious people -- frankly they only want Christians -- to participate. This is a step backward."
If atheists and other religious minorities submit requests to lead invocations and are rejected, it may very well lead to a new round of litigation.
Also from the God Machine this week:

Friday's Mini-Report, 8.29.14

08/29/14 05:10PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Ukraine: "Backed by Russian troops and weaponry, hundreds of Ukrainian rebel militiamen mobilized on Friday in [Novoazovsk], vacated by the Ukrainian military two days ago, and began to push toward the strategic seaport of Mariupol 27 miles away. The leader of the rebels called the advance a broad new effort to wrest control of a wide swath of coastal territory from the central government."
* Tough sell: "Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hailed pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine as 'insurgents' battling an army that he likened to Nazi invaders during World War II, and the Ukrainian government raised the prospect of joining NATO as it seeks help in repelling what it calls an outright Russian military invasion of its territory."
* This seems likely to get Moscow's attention: "The U.K. will press European Union leaders to consider blocking Russian access to the SWIFT banking transaction system under an expansion of sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, a British government official said. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT, is one of Russia's main connections to the international financial system."
* Sensible: "Rep. Tom Cole on Friday praised President Barack Obama for being 'commendably cautious' about potential military action in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Appearing on MSNBC, the Oklahoma Republican downplayed criticism that White House lacks a plan to combat ISIL militants, a concern stemming from a White House press briefing Obama gave the day before."
* I guess that's the end of the Mississippi dispute? "Special Judge Hollis McGehee has decided to dismiss an election challenge filed by Chris McDaniel. Friday in Gulfport, the judge announced his decision putting an end to the months of legal battles between the two candidates."
* Palestinian divisions: "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Hamas on Friday for extending fighting with Israel in the Gaza Strip, casting doubt on the future of the Palestinian unity government that the Islamic militant group backs, while Israel's premier said the end of the war could mark resumption of peace talks with Abbas."
* Iran: "Amid signs that Iran's military is resisting efforts to open up its nuclear program to deeper inspection, the Obama administration on Friday imposed sanctions on several Iranian organizations, including one run by the reclusive scientist who is widely believed to direct research on building nuclear weapons."
* If only the decision was theirs to make: "Another government shutdown isn't going to happen next month -- at least if you ask Republican leaders."
* Another policy dud for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.): "A government probe into the metric used by federal agencies to measure the 'social cost of carbon' found no evidence that it was improperly developed, investigators said Monday.... The review concluded that a federal working group convened to revise the economic measurement of carbon pollution based its decisions on a consensus of its members' thinking and relied heavily on peer-reviewed science."
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House August 28, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Rep. Peter King, Obama's new fashion critic

08/29/14 03:34PM

Political commentary on President Obama's clothing choices started almost immediately after his inauguration. Just two weeks after the president took the oath of office, Republican critics started complaining about photographs showing Obama in the Oval Office without a jacket on. Democrats responded by showing pictures of Reagan dressed in similar Oval Office attire, and the right quietly moved on.
But over the years, the complaints lingered -- about the president's jeans, the president's neckwear, etc.
Yesterday, interest in presidential attire reached a level that was hard to believe, with the political world going a little bonkers over Obama's tan suit. Andrew Kaczynski flagged the latest from Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) whose apoplexy about the color of the president's suit was so over the top, it's tempting to think this is satire.
"There's no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday," King said of President Obama on NewsMaxTV. "When you have the world watching ... a week, two weeks of anticipation of what the United States is gonna do. For him to walk out -- I'm not trying to be trivial here -- in a light suit, light tan suit, saying that first he wants to talk about what most Americans care about the revision of second quarter numbers on the economy. This is a week after Jim Foley was beheaded and he's trying to act like real Americans care about the economy, not about ISIS and not about terrorism. And then he goes on to say he has no strategy."
King said Obama's comments and actions showed "foreign policy was not a major issue" for President Obama.
Note, this isn't a joke. Kaczynski posted the clip of King's remarks, which seem to be entirely sincere.
An actual member of Congress -- the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's panel on counter-terrorism, no less -- believes there's "no way" to "excuse what the president did." And in this case, what the president did was put on a tan suit.
Dr. Ben Carson speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, March 8, 2014.

Ben Carson stands by U.S., Nazi comparisons

08/29/14 02:10PM

Remember neurosurgeon-turned-conservative-activist Ben Carson? He's apparently still around, still making needlessly provocative remarks, and still moving forward with his presidential plans.
In fact, Ben Terris reported from Iowa yesterday on a Carson event in Des Moines.
He's inside this meeting hall, before a sellout crowd of nearly 400 people at the Polk County Republicans' end-of-summer fundraiser, to discuss bullies of a different order. He wants to talk about the "secular progressives" in the news media, politics and academia who will stop at nothing to change the nation as we know it. He also wants to do this in Iowa, while raising money for local Republicans, coinciding with the start of his new PAC, which will "lay the groundwork" should he decide to run for president. [...]
He speaks softly, almost as though he's reading a child to sleep. But this is a scary story. If Republicans don't win back the Senate in November, he says, he can't be sure "there will even be an election in 2016." Later, his wife, Candy, tells a supporter that they are holding on to their son's Australian passport just in case the election doesn't go their way.
Just so we're clear, the implication here is that Carson believes President Obama, tyrant that he is, may not allow elections in 2016. It's why Carson's family is preparing to flee the United States, just in case.
As for Carson arguing earlier this year that contemporary American life as "very much like Nazi Germany," the right-wing doctor told Terris, "You can't dance around it.... If people look at what I said and were not political about it, they'd have to agree. Most people in Germany didn't agree with what Hitler was doing.... Exactly the same thing can happen in this country if we are not willing to stand up for what we believe in." 
I guess that means he's not sorry?
Fox News' Chris Wallace said yesterday that Carson, himself a Fox contributor, probably doesn't have a "serious chance" to actually be elected president, but Wallace added he'd "love" to see Carson run anyway.
It's not clear why.