November 12, 2015


“The book’s perfunctory pieties about Reagan’s greatness are inundated by its flood of regurgitated slanders about his supposed lassitude and manipulability. This book is nonsensical history and execrable citizenship, and should come with a warning: “Caution — you are about to enter a no-facts zone.” -- George F. Will on Bill O’Reilly’s book, “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency”

"If I become president, we're all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you." -- Donald Trump criticizing Starbucks for creating a blank red cup for the holiday season, rather than including winter or Christmas-themed designs. 11/10/15

"What Republicans are doing is so un-American, so outrageous. It is literally beyond belief. They're political cowards and if they can't face a free election, they should get another job." -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Republican efforts to restrict voting rights. 11/06/15

“Even if all the media tries to shut you down, which they have tried very much to do with me, but they can’t because the good Lord has provided me with mechanisms like my syndicated column and like Fox News.” — Ben Carson. 11/03/15

“I am lost between the glory of Reagan — monuments everywhere, trumpets, the great hero — and the trials and tribulations of my sons.” — Former President George H.W. Bush.

"DNI Clapper’s determination is further evidence that there was no wrongdoing by Secretary Clinton. The classification process is complex and subjective, but this confirms Secretary Clinton did not send classified information through her email account. It’s time to put this issue behind us and move on.” -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

“For Donald Trump, or anyone else in this country, to refer to people from Mexico as rapists and criminals — that is not an American value. That is old-fashioned racism and we will not tolerate it. It is not an American value to talk about rounding up millions of people and simply say that we are going to throw them out of the country. That is xenophobia.” -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 11/09/15

“Don’t expect us to come to your side during the general election. You are not with us now, we will not be with you then. You don’t have our vote now, you won’t have it then. You insult us now, we will be deaf to you then.” -- Rosario Marin, U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush, warning about what would happen if the Republican Party didn’t distance itself from extreme immigration politics. 11/16/15

“We recognize the shortness of the hour. And that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, he’s coming soon.” -- Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), calling for converting as many people as possible to Christianity because Jesus is “coming soon.”

“I’m a very big threat because they can look at the polling data and they can see that I’m the candidate who’s most likely to be able to beat Hillary Clinton.  They see that.” -- Ben Carson, who said that he has “never seen” this type of intense vetting before and believes it is because he is “a threat to the secular progressive movement.”

“You're a liar and you're a cheater and you're a stealer and I don't tolerate that." -- Louisiana gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards (D) to U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) 11/11/15

"Why are nonpartisan public service positions being used as political pawns, especially if they are being blocked just because Senator Grassley doesn't want Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States. How much money will Republicans in Congress waste to try to bring down Hillary Clinton? We don't know all the numbers." -- Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about Grassley, who has blocked nearly two dozen nominations, citing a slow response from the administration over questions about Clinton's use of a private email server and other State Department programs. 11/09/15




1. The Borowitz Report: Ben Carson Shattering Stereotype About Brain Surgeons Being Smart
2. What's making the GOP crazy?
3."The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah: Ben Carson defends his street cred
4. The DAILY GRILL -- Dr. Ben Carson vs. The Truth
5. Debate over Medicare, Social Security, other federal benefits divides GOP
6. The Right Wing Media Goes After Rubio
7. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
8. Super PACs Dominate the GOP Presidential Race
9. Fact Checking the 4th Republican Debate
10. "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah: It’s time to free Jeb Bush
11. Jimmy Kimmel and Hillary Clinton Talk to Kids About Politics
12. Mark Fiore Cartoon: The real Republican debate
13. Congress won't be showing up for work much in 2016
14. PolitiFact Rates Donald Trump’s statements
15. Greenhouse gases hit new milestone, fueling worries about climate change
16. Democratic Louisiana. gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards ad: The Choice
17. Who’s Winning the Presidential Campaign?


1. Carlos Lozada: Ben Carson, the humblebragging instrument of God
2. Jared Bernstein: Marco Rubio’s tax plan gives a huge gift to the top 0.0003 percent
3. Stan Greenberg: I’ve seen America’s future – and it’s not Republican
4. Maureen Dowd: Poppy Bush Finally Gives Junior a Spanking
5. Gideon Resnick: Ben Carson: Gifted Hands, Active Imagination
6. Washington Post Editorial: Sen. Rubio’s immigration retreat
7. Bill Scher: Democrats Need Not Panic Over Down-Ballot Trend
8. Knife-Wielding Hammer-Swinging Conspiracy Theorist’s Campaign in Danger Over Something About a School Application
9. Doyle McManus: Why Ben Carson has no business near the Oval Office


1. The Borowitz Report: Ben Carson Shattering Stereotype About Brain Surgeons Being Smart

Brain surgeons, long burdened with the onerous reputation of being among the smartest people in the world, are expressing relief that the Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson is shattering that stereotype once and for all.

“When people found out I was a brain surgeon they would always assume I was some kind of a genius,” said Harland Dorrinson, a neurosurgeon in Toledo, Ohio. “Now they are beginning to understand that you can know a lot about brain surgery and virtually nothing about anything else.”

In other news: Carson supporters, reeling from the news that their candidate’s past might have been devoid of stabbing, have deserted his candidacy in droves.

News alert: Presidential candidate Ben Carson has issued a dire warning that President Obama’s cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline has left the United States with “virtually no place to store grain.”

2. What's making the GOP crazy?

Consider this:

• 44% of Republicans believe the President was not born in the USA;

• 54% think our President is a Muslim. (Never mind the fact that they were freaking out about his Christian minister back during the 2008 campaign -- only 14% of Republicans think the President is a Christian.)

• And, perhaps most ominous: According to a September YouGov poll, 43% of Republicans could imagine supporting a military coup in the United States.

Keep in mind that we're still 89 days from the Iowa caucuses and 98 days from the New Hampshire primary. We have not even begun to see the full blooming of right-wing crazy. We may look back on November 2015 as the calm before the storm. -- Paul Begala on CNN. 11/04/15

3. "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah: Ben Carson defends his street cred

4. The DAILY GRILL -- Dr. Ben Carson vs. The Truth

“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain. ... And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they’d have to be that way for various reasons. And various scientists have said, ‘Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how—’ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.” - -Dr. Ben Carson 11/05/15


"Some people believe in the Bible, like I do, and don't find that to be silly at all, and believe that God created the Earth and don't find that to be silly at all. The secular progressives try to ridicule it any time it comes up and they're welcome to do that." -- Dr. Ben Carson defending his theory about ancient Egyptian pyramids. Carson has also said that God created all life 6,000 years ago and rejects Charles Darwin’s widely-accepted theory of evolution, which he has argued, was encouraged by the devil. 11/5/15


"Several sections of potential Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s 2012 book America the Beautiful were plagiarized from various sources. .In one instance, Carson cites wholesale from an old website that has been online since at least 2002," -- BuzzFeed


Dr. Ben Carson: "I attempted to appropriately cite and acknowledge all sources in America the Beautiful, but inadvertently missed some." -- ABC News, noting that this excuse among plagiarists is so common that it's practically become a joke.

5. Debate over Medicare, Social Security, other federal benefits divides GOP

Republicans are openly feuding over whether to seek drastic changes to Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs, risking a potentially damaging intraparty battle ahead of the 2016 elections.

“The rift was exemplified this week by the biggest GOP stars of the moment. Newly installed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) said he plans to pursue a ‘bold alternative agenda’ that would include major revisions in entitlements. At the same time, Trump and other populist contenders, including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, have challenged the need for sweeping changes and have warned against riling the seniors who have become a crucial voting bloc. This week, Trump attacked emerging front-runner Ben Carson — his main GOP rival — for advocating reforms to Medicare. 11/05/15

6. Right Wing Media Goes After Rubio

Rubio’s past support for immigration reform infuriated some of the big-name conservative media personalities who backed his upstart Tea Party bid in 2010, and they’re taking retribution now that he’s rising in the presidential polls. Immigration hawks such as Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter appear unlikely to ever give Rubio a second chance. 11/05/15 Read more at

7. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Even Fox News Can't Ignore That GOP Tax Plans Would Add Trillions Of Dollars To The National Debt

U.S. Intelligence Chief Reportedly Debunks Media Obsession That Clinton's Email Contained "Highly Classified Secrets"

Sean Hannity Defends Ben Carson's Story As "Truthful"

Fox Host Uses Ben Carson's West Point Fabrication To Smear Hillary Clinton -- Greg Gutfeld: "It's Not Like A Deliberate, Destructive Lie Like Hillary Clinton On Benghazi"

Major News Outlets Fail To Mention Report Debunking Claim That Clinton's Email Contained "Highly Classified Secrets"

Fox Host: "The War On Christmas [Is] Off To An Early Start" On Starbucks' Coffee Cups -- Kelly Wright: "Is Starbucks Acting More Like Ebenezer Scrooge [Trying] To Bah Humbug Christmas" With Their Coffee Cups?

Limbaugh: University of Missouri President Resigned For "Committing The Crime Of Being A White Male"

Limbaugh: Obama Felt "He Was Owed The Presidency Because Of His Skin Color"

8. Super PACs Dominate the GOP Presidential Race

“A whopping 95 percent of the TV ad spending in the Republican presidential race has come from outside groups and Super PACs, while just 5 percent comes from the actual campaigns,” according to an NBC News analysis of TV ad spending.

The opposite is true on the Democratic side — 95 percent of the TV ad spending in the Democratic presidential contest has come from the campaigns, versus just 5 percent from outside groups. 11/04/15 Read more at

9. Fact Checking the 4th Republican Debate

Jeb Bush: "We have to recognize that small business — right now more of them are closing than are being set up."
FACT: According to the latest figures from the Census Bureau, in 2012 and 2013 more businesses opened their doors than closed.

Donald Trump: The TPP fails to address currency manipulation. There is a side agreement in which all signatory nations promise not to manipulate their currencies, but critics say it's unenforceable. And Trump is correct that it is not part of the treaty itself.
FACT: Trump's charge that China is manipulating its currency is outdated. China's currency, the yuan, has been rising in value for some time and the International Monetary Fund says it's now fairly valued.

Carly Fiorina: "Innovation and entrepreneurship," said candidate, "is crushed by the crushing load of a 73,000-page tax code."
FACT: When you look at the actual tax-related statues passed by Congress, as published by the Government Printing Office, it comes out to 2,652 pages, according to the Tax Foundation.

Marco Rubio: "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”
FACT: The median salary for philosophy professors is $63,630, according to BLS. The median salary for welders is $37,420.

Rand Paul: Income inequality "seems to be worst in cities run by Democrats, states run by Democrats and counties currently run by Democrats."
FACT: While Democrats do run cities and states where income inequality is high, Republicans do too. It's not accurate to say Democrats are predominantly in charge of places where it's the highest.

Donald Trump: “Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower, good president, great president, people liked him. ‘I like Ike,’ right? The expression. ‘I like Ike.’ Moved a 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border. They came back.  Moved them again beyond the border, they came back. Didn’t like it. Moved them way south. They never came back.”
FACT: The Eisenhower program Trump was referring to, if not by name, was called "Operation Wetback." Implemented by President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, the program was frighteningly simple: round up undocumented immigrants and drop them off in Mexico by the busload. The more obscure the location, the better. Dozens of the operation's deportees died. The program was initiated by then-Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr., who ordered his officers to shoot "wetbacks" trying to enter America. Ultimately, it wasn't even as successful as Trump claims: Some researchers consider the 1.5 million-deported figure to be highly exaggerated.

Dr. Ben Carson: “We also must recognize that it’s [Syria] a very complex place. You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there.”
FACT: While there were reports in the Middle East media that China would fight alongside Russia in Syria, that has been dismissed by the Chinese media as “speculative nonsense.”

Mike Huckabee: “We have no idea who these people are. What we do know is that only one out of five of the so-called ‘Syrian Refugees’ who went into Europe were actually Syrian.”
FACT: The U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports that of the nearly 800,000 refugees arriving by sea in 2015, 52 percent are from Syria,

Chris Christie: “What they [Democrats] forgot to tell was that they’re going to raise your tax rates to 70 or 80 percent in order to provide all of that stuff.”
FACT: None of the Democratic candidates have said they would boost tax rates so high, even on the wealthy.

Chris Christi: “I’ll tell you the thing that disturbs me the most about what’s going on with the Democratic Party in Washington, that they’re not standing behind our police officers across this country. That they’re allowing lawlessness to reign in this country.”
FACT: The FBI Uniform Crime Report, which compiles data from law enforcement agencies, shows the violent crime rate decreased by 15 percent since President Obama took office in 2009. In 2011, the violent crime rate was the lowest it had been since 1971.

Carly Fiorina: "Obamacare isn't really helping anyone."
FACT: Public opinion remains divided over President Barack Obama's health care law, but it's clearly helping many people.

Sen. Ted Cruz: There’s a “congressional exemption” from Obamacare.
FACT: Members of Congress and their staffs face additional requirements than other Americans, not fewer.

Dr. Ben Carson: "When I look at somebody like Hillary Clinton, who sits there and tells her daughter and a government official that no, this was a terrorist attack, and then tells everybody else that it was a video. … Where I came from, they call that a lie.
FACT: "Carson is oversimplifying and distorting Clinton’s comments to portray a complex situation in the worst possible light. We rate his statement Mostly False.

10. "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah: It’s time to free Jeb Bush

11. Jimmy Kimmel and Hillary Clinton Talk to Kids About Politics

12. Mark Fiore Cartoon: The real Republican debate

13. Congress won't be showing up for work much in 2016

House Republicans have unveiled the 2016 House calendar - in the last six months of 2016, members of Congress will be asked to show up to potentially debate or vote or govern for only 42 days - out of 153!! Nice "work" if you can get it.-- Daily Kos

14. PolitiFact Rates Donald Trump’s statements

True: 0

Mostly True: 5 (8%)

Half True: 11 (17%)

Mostly False: 8 (13%)

False: 29 (45%)

Pants on Fire: 11 (17%)

15. Greenhouse gases hit new milestone, fueling worries about climate change

New scientific data released on Monday confirmed 2015’s place as a milestone year for the Earth’s environment, with both temperatures and greenhouse gases crossing symbolic thresholds with ominous implications for future climate change.

The World Meteorological Organization, in an annual accounting of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, reported that average levels of carbon dioxide exceeded 400 parts per million in the early months of 2015, a rise of 43 percent over pre-industrial levels.

And, in a separate report hours later, the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia reported that the Earth’s average temperature has crossed the symbolically important 1-degree C (1.8 F) mark, with temperatures over the first nine months of the year exceeding historic norms by exactly 1.02 degrees C. 11/08/15 Read more at

16. Democratic Louisiana. gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards ad: The Choice

17. Who’s Winning the Presidential Campaign?

History suggests that each party’s eventual nominee will emerge from 2015 in one of the top two or three positions, as measured by endorsements, fund-raising and polling.

For a scoreboard that totes up the factors that matter most go to



1. Carlos Lozada: Ben Carson, the humblebragging instrument of God

Ben Carson became convinced of two things during his teenage years. First, that he was uniquely talented, “one of the most spectacular and smartest people in the world.” Second, that God would answer his prayers, however specific they might be. Carson absorbed his mother’s mantra: “If you ask the Lord for something and believe He will do it, then it’ll happen.”

Little has occurred in Carson’s life and career since then to counter those impressions, and much has happened to confirm them. That may help explain why, during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the retired neurosurgeon has appeared at times indifferent to or uninformed about matters relevant to the office he seeks, such as the federal debt ceiling or natural disasters, and has expressed little regret over his controversial comments on the Holocaust, mass shootings, slavery and Islam. After reading five of his autobiographical, self-help and political books — “Gifted Hands” (1990), “Think Big” (1992), “The Big Picture” (1999), “America the Beautiful” (2012) and “A More Perfect Union” (2015) — I find this attitude more understandable. Why stress over policy details or gaffes when you’re the brightest person in the room, and when the Big Guy will show up if you ever need a hand?

Carson’s story is a nearly uninterrupted string of being proved right and smart. “I can learn to do anything that anybody else can do,” he tells his wife repeatedly. This certainty has guided him from Detroit, to Yale University, to medical school at the University of Michigan, to an illustrious career at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and now to the top of latest national polls in the GOP race. With that mind-set, the presidency isn’t a stretch; it’s an intellectual and divine entitlement.

If Carson wins the nomination, even the presidency, I suspect that in some future book he will deem the victory divinely ordained. If he doesn’t prevail, I’m sure the doctor’s postmortem will find someone to blame. 11/05/15 Read more at

2. Jared Bernstein: Marco Rubio’s tax plan gives a huge gift to the top 0.0003 percent

So far, the tax plans proposed by the Republican presidential candidates suffer from two big problems: 1) they cut revenues to the Treasury so aggressively that they’ll either force unrealistically large spending cuts or drive up deficits, and 2) they exacerbate our existing inequality problem by giving the biggest (by far) tax breaks to the richest households. (They may also suffer from a political problem in that outside of their base, most voters don’t buy this trickle-down business — see Romney, Mitt — but let’s stick with the economics.)

This post focuses on problem #2: making the tax code more regressive. In this regard, Sen. Marco Rubio takes the cake. If you were thinking: “what tax change could I implement that would be most helpful to the wealthiest households?” you’d quickly come to the same conclusion as Rubio: zero out taxes on capital gains and dividends. That’s because taxation on these forms of income, currently taxed at a top rate of 23.8 percent, is highly concentrated: according to the Tax Policy Center, 79 percent of the tax take from this asset-based income comes from the top 1 percent, 5 percent from the bottom 90 percent.

We can be certain that the Rubio plan will hemorrhage revenues while bequeathing a massive gift of wealth to the top 0.0003 percent. Apparently, he’s decided that America’s big economic challenge is that those rich people aren’t rich enough. And damn it, he’s gonna fix that! 11/05/15 Read more at

3. Stan Greenberg: I’ve seen America’s future – and it’s not Republican

This Republican race to the political bottom is happening because America’s conservatives are losing the culture wars. The US is now beyond the electoral tipping point, driven by a new progressive majority in the electorate: racial minorities (black and Hispanic) plus single women, millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) and secular voters together formed 51% of the electorate in 2012; and will reach a politically critical 63% next year.

And each of these groups is giving Clinton, or whoever emerges as the Democratic candidate for the 2016 White House race, at least a two-to-one advantage over a Republican party whose brand has been badly tarnished.

The Republicans have, of course, won big numbers of seats at state level and in off-year elections in the past decade. However, their conservative supporters, motivated by moral purpose, are now angry that Republican leaders have failed to stop Obama, particularly as the country, as they see it, tips into global and economic oblivion.

On the other hand, this intensifying battle for values has also left the Republicans with the oldest, most rural, most religiously observant, and most likely to be married white voters in the country. These trends have pushed states with large, growing metropolitan centres, such as Florida, Virginia and Colorado, over the blue Democratic wall, creating formidable odds against Republicans winning the electoral college majority needed to win the presidency.

Encamped in the 20 states of the south, the Appalachian valley, parts of the plains states and Mountain West, conservatives have waged their culture wars to great effect. But those states account for only 25% of the voters. Success here turns Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz into plausible candidates – but not plausible presidents in a country that is past the new electoral tipping point. America will get to send that message 12 months from now. 11/05/15 Read more at

4. Maureen Dowd: Poppy Bush Finally Gives Junior a Spanking

The gentlemanly 91-year-old is not going gentle into that good night. He finally spit out what he had been obsessing about privately for so long: Why did Cheney, 41’s loyal defense secretary, turn so belligerent and unilateral, “knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything and use force to get our way in the Middle East”? How did the neocons manage to push his son’s administration into pursuing their foolish agenda of refashioning the Middle East at the point of a gun?

He ultimately faults his son for the administration’s deadly embrace of Cheney and the neocons and for allowing Cheney to create his own national security apparatus, noting: “But it’s not Cheney’s fault. It’s the president’s fault,” adding at another point, “The buck stops there.”

As a young man, W. once got drunk, drove back to the family home in Washington, plowed his car into a neighbor’s garbage can and then challenged his disappointed father to go “mano a mano.”

Now the father, in belatedly putting W. over his knee, has taught the son the meaning of the phrase. If only it could have happened face to face. 11/08/15 Read more at

5. Gideon Resnick: Ben Carson: Gifted Hands, Active Imagination

More and more of the stories from Carson’s past seem to be pocked with half-truths, misinterpretations, and exaggerations. The inconsistencies not only threaten Carson’s campaign, but it also could make the retired neurosurgeon’s greatest strength—his incredible story—into a game ending weakness.

The questions about his life spanned decades. Did Carson doctor (excuse the pun) stories about his defense of white classmates after black students rioted when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated? Was he really awarded $10 for being the most honest student in a Yale class? Did he mislead people about his relationship with West Point?

These are merely the latest entries in a series of clouded rehashes and careful backtracking. There’s the endlessly perplexing story of how he stabbed a friend, his approval of cancer-treating glyconutrients (and subsequent disavowal) and, of course, the bizarre encounter with a gunman at Popeyes.

But maybe the biggest unanswered question is why Carson would embellish his already compelling story: a kid rising from the hard streets of Detroit to the prestigious halls of John Hopkins University’s medical school, becoming one of the most respected neurosurgeons in the world.

Perhaps these mistakes, or any of his other small to medium-sized deviations from truth, wouldn’t be so problematic if there weren’t so many of them.

Despite all the perceived benefits of being an outsider in this campaign cycle, there is one major pitfall. For anyone with political experience, personal narrative can be auxilliary. But for Carson, it’s everything.

And right now, it’s getting torn to shreds.11/09/15 Read more at

6. Washington Post Editorial: Sen. Rubio’s immigration retreat

It was only in the spring that Mr. Rubio, speaking in Spanish to Univision, deemed “important” President Obama’s program to allow young people who entered the country illegally before age 16 to apply for work permits. He added: “It can’t be terminated from one moment to the next, because there are already people benefiting from it.”

Now, speaking in English in New Hampshire, Mr. Rubio has revised his views, saying the program should in fact be ended unless broad immigration reform is enacted — precisely the sort of broad reform he advocated in 2013 and later rejected in the face of right-wing outrage.

Let’s be clear: By cancelling the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Mr. Rubio would also expose to deportation proceedings the roughly 700,000 youths who have benefited from it. That means 700,000 young people, often known as Dreamers, who have grown up in this country, attended school and in many cases college in the United States, and who know no other country.

Mr. Rubio’s craven flip-flop is in keeping with other rightward tilts in the GOP primary field, particularly on immigration, as the candidates scramble not to be outflanked by Mr. Trump. Even former Florida governor Jeb Bush, while not repudiating his support for comprehensive immigration reform, now downplays talk of providing a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, instead emphasizing almost exclusively beefing up border and interior security.

Mr. Rubio’s retreat has been especially stark given the prominent role he played as a member of the Gang of Eight bipartisan senators who wrote the 2013 immigration reform legislation. That bold bill, which passed the Senate but went nowhere in the House, elevated his status among establishment Republicans and many independents; it also put him in foul odor with the party’s anti-immigrant wing now so enamored of Mr. Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric. 11/08/15 Read more at

7. Bill Scher: Democrats Need Not Panic Over Down-Ballot Trend

Does the poor down-ballot track record experienced by Democratic candidates not named Barack Obama mean that going into the next cycle the Democratic Party is in shambles? That the Age of Obama is little more than a cult of personality masking the party’s fundamental unpopularity?

Some political observers—liberal and conservative—think so. Last week’s election results in Kentucky and Virginia “reveal the Democratic Party's peril," declared Vox’s Matthew Yglesias. “Under President Obama,” he added, “Democrats have lost 900+ state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats.” Added former Republican leadership aide Rory Cooper in a much-retweeted Twitter post: “That's some legacy.”

That’s one view. Here’s another: Democrats are not in trouble heading into 2016—far from it. What has been happening is merely a particularly dramatic example of what bedevils most presidents: midterm elections.

Every U.S. president who served two full terms since 1952 has watched his party lose at least one house of Congress during a midterm. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, unlike Obama, suffered the shock of both houses flipping in a single election.

Pendulum swings are also the norm in state-level races. Democrats picked up eight governors’ mansions during Ronald Reagan’s first term, for a total of 35. After the off-year elections in Bill Clinton’s first term, it was the Republicans who had 31. Then Democrats took back the gubernatorial majority after Bush’s second midterm.

Acknowledging the power of the presidency is not an argument for down-ballot complacency. More wins are better than fewer. And the 2020 state legislative races are especially critical because those winners will get to redraw the congressional district lines. House Republicans protected by gerrymandering today—thanks to GOP state wins in 2000 and 2010—could be made vulnerable in a few years time.

But 2015 is not 2020. Democrats have three more elections to reverse the state legislative leader board and big swings are far from unprecedented. To argue that the Democrats are in “deep trouble” based on off-year elections flies in the face of history. 11/09/15 Read more at

8. Knife-Wielding Hammer-Swinging Conspiracy Theorist’s Campaign in Danger Over Something About a School Application

Ben Carson, a former brain surgeon leading the Republican primary to be president of the United States (and who cannot tell the difference between the debt ceiling and the deficit), is finally facing intense, unprecedented scrutiny.

The doctor-turned-presidential-candidate, who believes being gay is a choice because “prison turns people gay” and that the ancient Egyptian pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain, is finally getting press criticism because it’s not fully clear whether he was formally or informally offered a scholarship to a school he never claimed to attend.

Dr. Carson, who in the past has compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and likened Obamacare to slavery, claims he met with General Westmoreland in May of 1969. It was then that General Westmoreland informally offered Carson, a man who once called the veteran’s healthcare crisis a “gift from god,” a full scholarship.

The campaign for the candidate who criticized how victims of mass shootings handle the situation and once directed an armed robber at Popeye’s to the cash register confirmed that he has never claimed to have applied to West Point.

Will this stunning West Point controversy ruin the presidential aspirations of Ben Carson, a man who once said we shouldn’t teach children U.S. history because it would make them join ISIS? Or will the doctor, who once shilled for a fake alternative cancer cure, make it past these most damning scholarship allegations?

9. Doyle McManus: Why Ben Carson has no business near the Oval Office

Carson is, by all accounts, a brilliant surgeon. He's a splendid motivational speaker and an admirable philanthropist. But he's not ready to be chief executive of the United States.

In his books, he often mentions incidents in which God intervened in his life. When he neglected to study at Yale, God showed him the answers on a chemistry exam. When he fell asleep while driving home one night, God spared his life. When he used new surgical techniques on children's brains, God saved some of his patients. And when he was on a safari in Africa, God answered his prayer for plenty of photogenic wildlife.

Now that he's running for president, Carson sounds as if he's counting on divine intervention to pull him through again. There can be no doubt about the sincerity of Carson's Christian faith or his belief in the power of prayer. But voters — even the most devout — deserve more earthly evidence that he's up to the job. 11.11.15