February 25, 2016


“Torture works, okay folks?...Believe me, it works." ... "Waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it's not actually torture. Let's assume it is. But they asked me the question. What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding. That's the way I feel." -- Donald Trump 2/17/16


“I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.” --Lindsey Graham about Donald Trump.

“Asylum seekers — I think the biggest problem in our state — and I’ll explain that to you… And what happens is you get hepatitis C, tuberculosis, AIDS, HIV, the ‘ziki fly’ [sic] all these other foreign type of diseases that find a way to our land.” -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) saying that asylum seekers are the biggest problem for his state.

“He took fifty bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the fifty people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the fiftieth person he said ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, okay? So we better start getting tough and we better start getting vigilant, and we better start using our heads or we're not going to have a country, folks." --Donald Trump defending his support of waterboarding by citing an unsubstantiated legend about Gen. John Pershing's efforts to quell the Moro Rebellion around 1911. 2/19/16

"I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque? Very sad that he did not go!" -- Donald J. Trump ✔‎@realDonaldTrump

"Marco Rubio, who's offering a platform of economic ruin, multiple wars, and an attack on civil liberties that's nearly as vicious as anything Trump has proposed — even while wrapping it in an edgy, anxious, overreaction-prone approach to politics that heavily features big risky bets and huge, unpredictable changes in direction." -- Matthew Yglesias on why he is more worried about Marco Rubio than Donald Trump 2/20/16

“I’ve seen fallible men rise up to the challenges of our time with humility and clarity of purpose to make our nation safer, stronger and freer… I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is a servant, not the master, someone who will commit to that service with honor and decency.” — Jeb Bush, suspending his campaign. 2/20/16

“We won with everything. We won with highly educated, pretty well educated, and poorly educated. But we won with everything. Tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people. Just won.” — Donald Trump. 2/22/16

"There is no question that there has been a collective effort from the very start to delegitimize the Obama presidency. The far right wing has attempted to render it less than any other presidency. This has been layered by repugnant racial animus that seeks to deny not simply an opponent his or her due; it is the attempt to erase their place in history." -- Michael Eric Dyson, author of "The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race." 2/22/16

“Trump is the candidate 'Fox & Friends' invented.” -- Newt Gingrich 2/22/16

"I think what the pope has done, in a very bold way ... is raise the issue of the worship of money, the idolatry of money, and to say maybe that’s not what human life should be about. That is a very, very radical critique of the hyper-capitalist system, world system, that we’re living in today." --Bernie Sanders in a new video interview with the Canadian Catholic television network 2/22/16

"The ACLU and their fellow communist friends, the League of Women Voters — you can quote me on that, the communist League of Women Voters." -- KS Secretary of State Kris Kobach who is facing lawsuits over Kansas' requirement for proof of citizenship to register to vote. 2/20/16

“It is an indication of a country’s institutional corruption when inside a main party the only alternative to the prevailing crony capitalism is a tycoon with a long history of shady deals.” -- Luigi Zingales in the NY Times 2.23/16



1. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Scalia's deathfreak-out: Constitution alert!
3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
4. The Simpsons: Marge and Homer Simpson are just as worried about the fate of the nation as we are
5. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Syrian Refugees Part 1
6. Majority of Public Wants Senate to Act on Obama’s Court Nominee
7. The Borowitz Report: Obama Signs Executive Order Relocating Congress to Guantánamo
8. January 2016: Shattering the Global Warming Monthly Record
9. AP-GfK Poll: Voters increasingly see Sanders as electable
10. Late Night Jokes for Dems
11. Not Much Excitement for Bloomberg Bid
12. The RNC’s anti-Clinton ads 
13. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Abortion Laws 
14. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Hungry For Power Games: Jeb Has Fallen
15. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Kasich the Moderate
16. Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore: Rubio And Cruz Aren’t Really Hispanic 
17. Center for Public Integrity: Numbers to know about the 2016 presidential race
18. Daily Show Jessica Williams: A homophobic church falls on hard times


1. Dana Milbank: Why the Democratic establishment fears Bernie Sanders
2. Scott Lemieux: The End of the Supreme Court as We Know it
3. Maureen Dowd: Escape From BushworldSouth 
4. Gail Colllins: Republicans See How Long They Can Hold Their Breath
5. John Cassidy: Who Killed Jeb Bush’s Campaign? Jeb Did 
6. Jeffrey Toobin: Looking Back
7. Steve Lopez: The presidential race is so awful you can't look away
8. Ruth Marcus: Donald Trump’s utterly ridiculous budget plan 
9. Jonathan Chait: Why Jeb Bush’s Campaign failed 
10. Paul Krugman: Cranks on Top
11. Paul Krugman: Varieties of Voodoo 
12. Shane Goldmacher Trump shatters the Republican Party 


1. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Scalia's death freak-out: Constitution alert!



“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. "This is not in the Gospel." -- Pope Francis 2/18/16


"For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened." -- Donald Trump in a statement. 2/18/16 



“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”


“They’re bringing crime. They’re bringing drugs. They’re rapists.”

“These are people that shouldn’t be in our country. They flow in like water.”

“Nobody can build a fence like me.” http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/trump-vs-pope-round-2/


"Presidents have a right to nominate just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent. In this case, the Senate will withhold it. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter after the American people finish making in November the decision they've already started making today." --Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reiterating that Senate Republicans will block President Obama's nominee. 2/23/16


“... the most honest, the very fact that people on our side feel very strongly that there shouldn’t be a hearing before we know the nominee is because it’s not really about the nominee. ... Frankly, the real objection here is to Obama.” -- Curt Levey, executive director of the FreedomWorks Foundation



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

Fox's Hayes: GOP Infighting "A Spectacle Unbecoming And Not Worthy Of The Kinds Of Problems That Are Facing The Country At This Point"  http://mediamatters.org/video/2016/02/18/steve-hayes-on-trump-lawsuit-independent-voters/208670

Glenn Beck: God took Scalia to give America Ted Cruz as president http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/17/politics/glenn-beck-god-killed-scalia-so-cruz-could-win/

Limbaugh: If Homeless People Are "Dying On The Streets" It's Because "Liberals Are In Charge" http://mediamatters.org/video/2016/02/19/limbaugh-if-homeless-people-are-dying-on-the-st/208707

NRA Suggests Gun Ownership For Women Who Wear Spandex At Night http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/02/19/nra-suggests-gun-ownership-for-women-who-wear-s/208695

Conservatives Defy History With Derision At Obama's Decision Against Attending Scalia's Funeral http://mediamatters.org/research/2016/02/19/conservatives-defy-history-with-derision-at-oba/208693

Media Try To Delegitimize Union Voters Who Helped Clinton Win Nevada Caucuses http://mediamatters.org/research/2016/02/22/media-try-to-delegitimize-union-voters-who-help/208725

CNN's Sally Kohn: The "Narrative" That Hillary Clinton Is Not Trustworthy Is A "Reality TV" Issue Fed By The Right 

NRA Commentator: Paying Taxes On A Firearm Purchase "Is Rape " http://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/02/23/nra-commentator-paying-taxes-on-a-firearm-purch/208746

4. The Simpsons: Marge and Homer Simpson are just as worried about the fate of the nation as we are


5. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Syrian Refugees Part 1


6. Majority of Public Wants Senate to Act on Obama’s Court Nominee

In the high-stakes battle over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a majority of Americans (56%) say the Senate should hold hearings and vote on President Obama’s choice to fill the vacancy. -- PewResearchCenter poll. 2/22/16 Read more at http://www.people-press.org/2016/02/22/majority-of-public-wants-senate-to-act-on-obamas-court-nominee/

7. The Borowitz Report: Obama Signs Executive Order Relocating Congress to Guantánamo

Making good on one of his key campaign promises, President Obama signed an executive order on Tuesday relocating the United States Congress to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The President seemed to relish signing the order, calling the relocation a “win-win for America,” and indicating that Congress could be moved to its new headquarters “immediately.”

Minutes after the President signed the order, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) called it “an outrage” and “grounds for impeachment,” but Obama appeared to take such howls of protest in stride.

“If Congress believes that this executive order is illegal, they can take it up with the Supreme Court,” he said. “Oh wait—we don’t have a Supreme Court.”

Elsewhere: Conspiracy theorists believe that the Republican Party did not die from natural causes but was instead the target of an elaborately planned killing, a leading conspiracy theorist has confirmed.

Harland Dorrinson, whose basement walls are covered with photos of suspects in the killing of the G.O.P., has spent countless hours connecting those photos with different colors of yarn in the hopes that a larger pattern would emerge.

“The only suspect I have definitively ruled out is Mitch McConnell,” he said. “No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t imagine a scenario where he accomplished something.” More at  http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/


8. January 2016: Shattering the Global Warming Monthly Record

Hot enough for ya? It should be: January 2016 was the hottest January globally since records began in 1880. And it didn’t just edge out the previous record holder for January, it destroyed it.

The global temperature anomaly for January 2016 was 2° Fahrenheit. That makes it the hottest January on record (the previous record was 1.7°F in 2007). But there’s more: 2°F is the largest anomaly for any month since records began in 1880. There have only been monthly anomalies greater than 1.8°F three times before in recorded history, and those three were all from last year. The farther back in the past you go, the lower the anomalies are on average. http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2016/02/17/january_2016_was_the_hottest_january_on_record.html

9. AP-GfK Poll: Voters increasingly see Sanders as electable

The more Democrats learn about Bernie Sanders, the more they appear to like him.

A greater percentage of Democratic registered voters view the Vermont senator as likable, honest, competent and compassionate than they did just two months ago, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Seventy-two percent now believe he could win the general election, a 21 percentage point increase from the last time the survey was conducted in December.. 2/19/16 Read more at  http://bigstory.ap.org/article/0e3dba1751364fe294cc219263d925cf/ap-gfk-poll-voters-increasingly-see-sanders-electable

10. Late Night Jokes for Dems

"A Republican insider compared Marco Rubio's debate performance to 'looking at your iPhone and the video freezes and says it's buffering.' After hearing this, Bernie Sanders said, 'A what doing what?'" –Conan O'Brien

"On the Republican side, Donald Trump shot an interview with Fox News, and said he has never smoked marijuana. Trump said, 'I don't want get paranoid and start thinking people are sneaking into our country and stealing our jobs." –Jimmy Fallon

"According to a new report, the number of babies named 'Hillary' has decreased 90 percent since Bill Clinton was president. And, this is interesting, there has never been a baby named Bernie." –Seth Meyers

Hillary Clinton said that during her time in the White House, she would actually put on a baseball cap and sunglasses so she could walk around Washington, D.C., unnoticed. The only time it went wrong was when Bill pulled up and said, 'Hey baby, do you — oh, never mind.'" –Jimmy Fallon

"Bernie Sanders yesterday interrupted his own speech to rush to the aid of a man who fainted in the audience. Luckily, Bernie was able to shout him back to consciousness: 'ARE YOU OK? WAKE UP, THE MIDDLE CLASS IS DISAPPEARING!'" –Seth Meyers

"Donald Trump said in a new interview that President Obama visited a mosque yesterday because 'he feels comfortable there.' Or maybe it's just because it's the one place Obama knew he'd never run into Donald Trump." –Seth Meyers

"Bernie Sanders says his campaign is trying to appeal now to senior citizens. The problem is, every time Bernie says, 'Feel the Bern,' the seniors think he's talking about acid reflux." –Conan O'Brien

"Recently released documents show that former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer donated $50,000 to Martin O'Malley's presidential campaign. It's not the first time Spitzer spent that much on something that only lasted an hour." –Seth Meyers

"Trump's victory last night raises a lot of questions, like one: 'Can he keep this momentum going into New Jersey?' And two: 'Just how much does it cost to move to Canada?'" –James Corden

11. Not Much Excitement for Bloomberg Bid

The multi-billionaire media mogul has held out the possibility of an independent candidacy as a tonic for centrists fearful of a Trump presidency. But even as Trump bolstered his chances for the Republican nomination with a solid win in South Carolina, Bloomberg’s trial balloon has yet to gain much altitude, even among those most likely to favor his candidacy.”

Only if the self-avowed Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders were to cop the Democratic nomination and square off against reality-TV star Trump could these would-be Bloomberg supporters imagine him making the race — and even then, there were doubts. 2/22/16 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/michael-bloomberg-trial-balloon-219521#ixzz40thdpBYg

12. The RNC’s anti-Clinton ads

The Clintons Hope You Forgot: https://youtu.be/3Yn2VRYaJHE

Wiggle Room: https://youtu.be/hc1ihMCJcdA

13. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Abortion Laws


14. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Hungry For Power Games: Jeb Has Fallen


15. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Kasich the Moderate


16. Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore: Rubio And Cruz Aren’t Really Hispanic


17. Center for Public Integrity: Numbers to know about the 2016 presidential race

$1,078,875: Debt owed by Wisconsin Gov.Scott Walker's defunct presidential campaign, as of Jan. 31.

$204,000: What Trump’s campaign spent during January producing hats

$32,907: Amount American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-backed granddaddy of super PACs,raised during January.

$1,000: The amount some Nevada prostitutes are reportedly asking clients to donate to Clinton's campaign in exchange for … extra services.

Read more at http://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/02/21/19339/numbers-know-about-2016-presidential-race

18. Daily Show Jessica Williams: A homophobic church falls on hard times



1. Dana Milbank: Why the Democratic establishment fears Bernie Sanders

Why does the Democratic establishment so dislike Bernie Sanders? Consider this statistic:

Hillary Clinton has raised $26 million for the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties so far this campaign. And Sanders? $1,000.

That’s no typo. Clinton is doing more to boost the party’s 2016 prospects than Sanders by the proportion of 26,000 to 1. (Or greater: That $1,000 “raised” by Sanders was technically provided by the DNC to open a joint fundraising account.)

This is the source of the panic that Sanders causes the much-maligned Democratic elites. It’s not about ideology; it comes from a fear that having Sanders as a nominee will decimate progressive candidates down the ballot — and leave Republicans in control of the House, and state capitals, for another decade or two.

Sanders seems to think he doesn’t need a robust party’s backing to enact his multi-trillion-dollar proposals, which Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s former top economist, told the New York Times’s Jackie Calmes this past week are as realistic as “magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets tied to their collars.” But if Sanders leaves the Democratic Party for dead, as he is now doing, the odds against his success are even greater.

I’d put them at 26,000 to 1. 2/20/16 Read more at http://wpo.st/OUYD1

2. Scott Lemieux: The End of the Supreme Court as We Know it

The fight over Antonin Scalia's successor heralds a descent into politically uncharted territory.

The Supreme Court has typically been a centrist institution, and since early in the Nixon administration the typical median vote on the Court on politically salient issues has been a country-club Republican: Potter Stewart, Lewis Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor, and/or Anthony Kennedy. 

But as the University of Maryland legal scholar Mark Graber argued in an important recent paper, there is nothing natural or inevitable about this. The typical centrism of the Court was driven by two factors—ideologically heterogeneous parties and relative elite consensus—that have vanished. Moderate Republicans will not control the Court, because for all intents and purposes they no longer exist. For the foreseeable future, the median vote on the Court will reliably vote with the liberal or conservative faction on politically salient issues, and the gap between liberal and conservative constitutional visions is likely to get wider.

As the stakes of Supreme Court nominations get ever higher, getting Court vacancies filled during periods of divided government is going to become increasingly difficult. Depending on the results of the 2016 elections, this dysfunctional future could very soon become our present.  2/16/16 Read more at  https://newrepublic.com/article/129944/end-supreme-court-know


3. Maureen Dowd: Escape From Bushworld South

The dynasty has perished, with a whimper. The exclamation point has slouched off.

The Bushes are leaving the field to someone they have utter contempt for: Donald Trump.

And the main emotion in Bushworld is relief. No one could bear one more day of watching Jeb get the flesh flayed off him by Trump.

The inflammatory Trump, who delights in breaking the fourth wall, was perfectly happy to shatter the convention in Republican circles that W. “kept us safe,” as Jeb kept saying.

Trump stunned everyone by pointing out the obvious: W. and Condi were not on the ball before 9/11, when W. was mountain-biking and ignoring memos headlined, as Bill Maher drily put it, “Osama bin Laden is standing right behind you.” Then, after 9/11, they played right into Osama’s recruiting plans by invading and occupying two Muslim countries, instead of simply going after the guilty party, as W. had promised to do when he yelled through the bullhorn at ground zero.

The country is now aflame with anger and disgust about politicians and bankers who conned trusting Americans and never got punished for it. That fury has led to the rise of wildly improbable candidates in both parties. As the Bush dynasty falls, it must watch in horror knowing that it is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump. Read more at  http://nyti.ms/1RhkePI


4. Gail Colllins: Republicans See How Long They Can Hold Their Breath

People, do you remember what Mitch McConnell used to say when he was the powerless Senate minority leader? Of course you don’t. There’s just so much stuff that fits into a human brain and no reason whatsoever that McConnell should be taking up space.

He used to say that when Republicans got control, democracy and venerable tradition would rule. No more of those sneaky tricks that his predecessor Harry Reid used to keep the other side’s ideas from coming up for a vote: “The answer is to let folks debate, to let the Senate work its will.” He had a vision of a deliberative body that argued so long and hard that eventually all the Democrats would collapse from exhaustion and he, Majority Leader Mitch, would walk over their prostrate bodies to principled victory.

That was the good old days. We remember them with nostalgia, like the golden era when members of both parties drank in the same bars. Now apparently the Senate can’t even be trusted to hold a committee hearing.

This is a theory, much loved on talk radio, that involves an insidious presidential plot to make America just a run-of-the-mill country — smaller and weaker and burdened with universal health care. When things go wrong it isn’t because of ineptitude. It’s a careful Obama scenario aimed at bringing the country down. A man that sinister can’t be allowed to even put a nomination into play. God knows what would happen. Close your eyes and pretend he isn’t there.

Ted Cruz vowed to filibuster any attempt by the Senate to vote on a nominee. Because filibuster is, you know, what Ted Cruz does. Just put your hands over your ears and hum very loudly until you get your way. 2/18/16 Read more at  http://nyti.ms/1Q2XXGk


5. John Cassidy: Who Killed Jeb Bush’s Campaign? Jeb Did

Setting aside Bush’s weaknesses as a candidate, the central lesson of his failed campaign is how weak the Party apparatus really is. In fact, it is so weak it barely deserves to be called an establishment.

The Democratic Party, for all of its ills at the local level, can still call on the labor unions and groups such as EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood to find and marshal potential voters. (Faced with a surging Bernie Sanders, that’s what Hillary Clinton’s campaign just did in Nevada, and it worked.) The Republican Party, by contrast, for long used money as its central organizing tool and disciplining device. But in a post–Citizens United world, G.O.P. candidates no longer need to rely on the Republican National Committee and its roster of high-end donors. There are plenty of other sources of cash, including, in Trump’s case, the candidate’s own bank account.

When money is limited and doled out unequally, it can easily tip the balance in politics. When it is ubiquitous, its various sources tend to cancel each other out, and elections come down to the fundamentals: candidate, message, and organization. The Bush campaign wasn’t strong in any of these areas, and that, more than anything, explains its demise.

As Bush returns to Florida and to private life, it’s hard not to wonder what sort of President he would have been. Given the alternatives on the Republican side, it is perfectly possible that he would have been the best of the bunch, but that is just speculation. What we do know is that he wasn’t up to the job of getting elected. 2/22/16 Read more at  http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/who-killed-jeb-bushs-campaign-jeb-did


6. Jeffrey Toobin: Looking Back

Atonin Scalia, who died this month, after nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, devoted his professional life to making the United States a less fair, less tolerant, and less admirable democracy. Fortunately, he mostly failed. Belligerent with his colleagues, dismissive of his critics, nostalgic for a world where outsiders knew their place and stayed there, Scalia represents a perfect model for everything that President Obama should avoid in a successor. The great Justices of the Supreme Court have always looked forward; their words both anticipated and helped shape the nation that the United States was becoming. Chief Justice John Marshall read the new Constitution to allow for a vibrant and progressive federal government. Louis Brandeis understood the need for that government to regulate an industrializing economy. Earl Warren saw that segregation was poison in the modern world. Scalia, in contrast, looked backward.

Scalia won a great deal more than he lost, and he and his allies succeeded in transforming American politics into a cash bazaar, with seats all but put up for bidding. But even though Scalia led a conservative majority on the Court for virtually his entire tenure, he never achieved his fondest hopes—thanks first to O’Connor and then to Kennedy. Roe v. Wade endures. Affirmative action survives. Obamacare lives. Gay rights are ascendant; the death penalty is not. (These positions are contingent, of course, and cases this year may weaken the Court’s resolve.) For all that Presidents shape the Court, the Justices rarely stray too far from public opinion. And, on the social issues where the Court has the final word, the real problem for Scalia’s heirs is that they are out of step with the rest of the nation. The public wants diversity, not intolerance; more marriages and fewer executions; less money in politics, not more. Justice Scalia’s views—passionately felt and pungently expressed though they were—now seem like so many boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. 2/29/16 ISSUE http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/02/29/antonin-scalia-looking-backward


7. Steve Lopez: The presidential race is so awful you can't look away

I'm not saying I'll ever leave California and move to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. But for months now, I've wished I had a front-row seat to the parade of presidential wannabes in the most entertaining primary season ever.

A Jewish socialist candidate who is roughly the same age as Moses has locked up the youth vote.

An African American candidate's most lasting impression was a defense of his belief that the pyramids were actually grain elevators.

The whitest male candidate, Jeb Bush, may speak better Spanish than the two Latino candidates, one of whom cooks bacon on the barrel of an AR-15.

The only remaining female candidate is having trouble scoring points with women.

And a candidate with a head like a Santa Ana wildfire has mocked a female opponent's looks and insulted a former prisoner of war for getting captured.  http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0221-lopez-presidents-20160221-column.html


8. Ruth Marcus: Donald Trump’s utterly ridiculous budget plan

Trump is pushing a tax cut costing double-digit trillions of dollars over the next decade. His Republican rivals peddle big tax cuts — Trump’s is huuuger.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates its 10-year cost at $9.5 trillion, or $11.2 trillion with interest. The Tax Foundation gives the Trump plan credit for generating economic growth; as a result, its estimated $12 trillion cost of Trump’s plan would drop to a mere — mere! — $10 trillion, excluding interest.

How to pay for this? The Tax Policy Center illustrates the magnitude of cuts required. The Trump tax plan would reduce revenues by $1.1 trillion in 2025. Federal spending that year is estimated to be $5.3 trillion, excluding interest payments. Thus, Congress would have to cut spending across the board by 21 percent merely to pay for the tax cut, no less bring the budget into balance.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calculates that paying for Trump’s tax plan would require the economy to grow at more than 7 percent annually. The average since 1946 has been 3.3 percent. The Federal Reservepredicts growth in the 2 percent range.

Trump is a charlatan. Exposing his ignorance is harder than covering his boorishness, but it is no less essential. http://wpo.st/egxD1

9. Jonathan Chait: Why Jeb Bush’s Campaign failed

“George W. Bush’s administration was an abject disaster both domestically and abroad. Jeb Bush never figured out how to divest himself from his brother’s failure, and by the end reduced himself to running openly as his heir, bringing Dubya to campaign with him in his South Carolina box canyon stand. The Bush disaster presented Jeb with a double trap he could never escape. His brand was poison for swing voters. And conservatives, who had fallen mostly in line with Dubya during his presidency, were forced to disavow him as a heretic by the end so that their ideology could escape the wreckage.”

“The direction of Republican politics since 2008 is mostly the continuing momentum of this explosion. One direction of Republican strategy has taken seriously the premise that Bush failed because of his moderation, and tried to steer the party toward a more austere version of the faith. That is the Cruz version. The Trump version is more of an inchoate rebellion against the party’s donor class and its ideas, embracing nationalism and affect. Marco Rubio represents the true continuation of Bushism within the party — massive tax cuts plus neoconservative foreign policy plus soft-pedaled social conservatism, all sold in a compassionate package with lots of high-profile outreach to Democratic constituencies. Rubio allows Republicans to double down on Bushism without saddling themselves with the liability of the Bush name or, by extension, acknowledging that they still believe Bush’s ideas work.

What killed Jeb Bush’s campaign was first the failure of his brother’s administration, and then the emergence of Marco Rubio to present a more attractive face for its continuation. Trump is the face Jeb Bush’s admirers wish to present as his antagonist. But the Bush campaign did not need Trump to kill it. 2/22/16 Read more at http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/02/why-jebs-campaign-died-while-hillarys-lived.html


10. Paul Krugman: Cranks on Top

So when Mr. Rubio genuflects at the altars of supply-side economics and hard money, he isn’t telling ordinary Republicans what they want to hear — by and large the party’s base couldn’t care less. He is, instead, pandering to the party’s elite, consisting mainly of big donors and the network of apparatchiks at think tanks, media organizations, and so on.

But what I do know is that one shouldn’t treat establishment support as an indication that Mr. Rubio is moderate and sensible. On the contrary, not long ago someone holding his policy views would have been considered a fringe crank.

Let me leave aside Mr. Rubio’s terrifying statements on foreign policy and his evident willingness to make a bonfire of civil liberties, and focus on what I know best, economics.

What you may not know is that Mr. Rubio’s tax cuts would be almosttwice as big as George W. Bush’s as a percentage of gross domestic product — despite the fact that federal debt is much higher than it was 15 years ago, and Republicans have spent the Obama years warning incessantly that budget deficits will destroy America, any day now.

But not to worry: Mr. Rubio insists that his tax cuts would pay for themselves, by unleashing incredible economic growth. Never mind the complete absence of any evidence for this claim — in fact, the last two Democratic presidents, both of whom raised taxes on the rich, both presided over better private-sector job growth than Mr. Bush did (and that’s even if you leave out the catastrophe of Mr. Bush’s last year in office).

In short, Mr. Rubio is peddling crank economics. What’s interesting, however, is why. You see, he’s not pandering to ignorant voters; he’s pandering to an ignorant elite. 2/22/16 Read more at  http://nyti.ms/1TuUl0Y


11. Paul Krugman: Varieties of Voodoo

Claims for the Sanders program aren’t just implausible, they’re embarrassing to anyone remotely familiar with economic history (which says that raising long-run growth is very hard) and changing demography. They should have set alarm bells ringing, but obviously didn’t.

Mr. Sanders is calling for a large expansion of the U.S. social safety net, which is something I would like to see, too. But the problem with such a move is that it would probably create many losers as well as winners — a substantial number of Americans, mainly in the upper middle class, who would end up paying more in additional taxes than they would gain in enhanced benefits.

By endorsing outlandish economic claims, the Sanders campaign is basically signaling that it doesn’t believe its program can be sold on the merits, that it has to invoke a growth miracle to minimize the downsides of its vision. It is, in effect, confirming its critics’ worst suspicions.

What happens now? In the past, the Sanders campaign has responded to critiques by impugning the motives of the critics. But the authors of the critical letter that came out on Wednesday aren’t just important economists, they’re important figures in the progressive movement.

If you dismiss the likes of Mr. Krueger or Ms. Romer as Hillary shills or compromised members of the “establishment,” you’re excommunicating most of the policy experts who should be your allies.

So Mr. Sanders really needs to crack down on his campaign’s instinct to lash out. More than that, he needs to disassociate himself from voodoo of the left — not just because of the political risks, but because getting real is or ought to be a core progressive value. 2/19/15  http://nyti.ms/20Ib15t


12. Shane Goldmacher Trump shatters the Republican Party

After winning three of the first four nominating contests, Donald Trump hasn’t just hijacked the Republican Party but fractured it newly into three.

The populist billionaire’s rise to the pinnacle of Republican politics has upended what had been decades of relative GOP stability, a 40-year span in which most Republican presidential contests since 1976 neatly narrowed to an establishment-embraced front-runner and a conservative insurgent alternative.

No more.

Suddenly, there are three strands of the Republicanism, each entrenched and vying for supremacy in 2016. Ted Cruz is the leader of the traditional conservative purists. Marco Rubio is emerging from the mud of a multi-candidate brawl to lead the once-dominant, now diminished, mainstream lane of the GOP.

But it is Trump’s new alliance of angry populists that is ascendant — and on the precipice of dominance.

“What Trump is consolidating is the people who are unhappy being in either camp — those who don’t see themselves as conservative insurgents or as mainstream Republicans,” said Yuval Levin, an influential Republican thinker and editor of the quarterly conservative journal, National Affairs. “They’re insurgents but they’re not conservatives. And they’re not happy with the system that gave us that binary choice.”

“It’s kind of Archie Bunker types,” said Glen Bolger, a veteran Republican pollster who is unaligned in 2016 but opposed to Trump.2/24/16 Read more at  http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/trump-shatters-the-republican-party-219711#ixzz416lVsOLp