May, 2015

Sanders Wrote About Rape Fantasies

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign tried to distance the presidential candidate from a 1972 essay in which he wrote — among other things — a women “fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously,” CNN reports.

A campaign spokesman said the article was a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication” that “in no way reflects his views or record on women.”

Clinton Award Under Scrutiny

Bill Clinton agreed to accept a lifetime achievement award only after Petra Nemcova, the event organizer, offered a $500,000 contribution to the Clinton Foundation, the New York Times reports.

“The donation, made late last year after the foundation sent the charity an invoice, amounted to almost a quarter of the evening’s net proceeds — enough to build 10 preschools in Indonesia. Happy Hearts’ former executive director believes the transaction was a ‘quid pro quo,’ which rerouted donations intended for a small charity with the concrete mission of rebuilding schools after natural disasters to a large foundation with a broader agenda and a budget 100 times bigger.”

Sunday Showdown in the Senate

“The Senate is heading for a tense and unusual Sunday showdown over the expiring antiterrorism surveillance powers of the National Security Agency, and Senator Mitch McConnell, five months into his tenure as majority leader, has a lot on the line,” the New York Times reports.

“The Senate ended up in a post-midnight stalemate over the N.S.A. just before its Memorial Day recess. Now Mr. McConnell has called his colleagues back for the first Sunday meeting since late 2013, to try to untangle the mess just hours before a June 1 deadline. The outcome is far from certain.”

Christie Reverses Position on Common Core

Gov. Chris Christie (R) “proposed dropping national Common Core education standards he once supported but have since become a lighting rod issue for Republican voters,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.

Christie declared Common Core is “simply not working” and said he wants to develop a state-based group to develop “new standards right here in New Jersey, not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River.”

Newspaper Apologizes for Letter Seeking Obama Execution

A Pennsylvania newspaper has apologized for publishing a letter to the editor calling for President Obama to be executed, Politico reports.

Said the letter: “To the families of those fallen heros [sic] whose blood lies on the sands of Iraq; don’t you think it might be time to rise up against an administration who has adequately demonstrated their gross incompetence? I think the appropriate, and politically correct, term is regime change. Forgive me for being blunt, but throughout history this has previously been accompanied by execution by guillotine, firing squad, public hanging.”

Iowa Straw Poll Fades Into Irrelevance

“When Republican officials in Iowa convened a planning session Thursday for their quadrennial presidential straw poll, only a handful of advisers to GOP contenders bothered to show up,” the Washington Post reports.

“The sparse attendance and lack of enthusiasm, even from those who came, was worrying to state party brass: The straw poll — a carnival-like organizing ritual that has in past years winnowed the candidate field and marked the start of caucus season — has faded into irrelevance.”

Hastert Charged With Federal Crimes

Federal prosecutors charged former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) with illegally structuring cash withdrawals from bank accounts to make payments to someone he committed “prior misconduct” against and lying to the FBI about it, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

“Hastert is accused of splitting up the withdrawal of $952,000 to avoid the requirement that banks report withdrawals of more than $10,000. When asked about it by the FBI in the December 2014, he allegedly lied and said he was keeping the cash.”

What If Republicans Can’t Decide?

David Byler: “While Clinton dominates the Democratic invisible primary – locking up a huge number of endorsements and so far only attracting one factional challenger – none of the Republican candidates has similar numbers. In fact, in terms of endorsements from public officials — arguably the best publicly available window into the invisible primary — no Republican candidate has even started winning the invisible primary.”

“We do have some previous examples of races in which no candidate dominates the invisible primary early. When this happens, one of two things usually occurs: a candidate wins a late, weak or partial victory in the invisible primary and (usually) goes on to win the nomination, or the party simply fails to coalesce.”

Trump Looks Likely to Join Race

Donald Trump will make a “major announcement” at the Trump Tower in New York City on June 16, and he plans to return to New Hampshire the following day, WMUR reports.

“All signs point to a Trump declaration of candidacy, however. He has been moving in that direction for many months with steps beyond those he took in his previous flirtations.”

“Trump has set up a pre-campaign organization, headed by conservative strategist Corey Lewandowski of Windham, and has hired staffers in New Hampshire and first-caucus state Iowa, as well as in South Carolina, where the first primary in the South will be held. Last week, Trump unveiled a 17-member leadership team in New Hampshire.”

Former Schock Aide Talking to the FBI

“A onetime aide to Aaron Schock told the FBI this week that the embattled ex-congressman and two employees flew on a private jet with an insurance company executive last year, prompting the adviser to raise concerns about the legality of the trip,” Politico reports.

“If Schock accepted travel on a private jet from an individual or corporation without accounting for the trip, it could be a violation of federal law.”

Lindsey Graham Gets a Super PAC

“Allies of Lindsey Graham have created a super PAC to raise cash for the outspoken Republican senator as he prepares to launch his long-shot presidential bid in South Carolina next week,” National Journal reports.

“The new super PAC is named the Security Is Strength PAC—a not-so-subtle play off Graham’s own political committee, which is called Security Through Strength.”

Another Way Clinton Could Make History

Hillary Clinton “could become the first Democratic president in the party’s nearly two century-long history* to never control the House of Representatives while she’s in office,” Kyle Kondik writes.

“Let’s say Democrats net 19 seats in 2016 and 19 more in 2020, which given the current maps and overall political outlook in the House would be two very successful elections. That’s a 38-seat net gain, or eight more than they need to win the House. However, there’s a midterm to be held in between those elections, and Democrats could only afford to lose eight seats, no more, to control the House in 2021 under this scenario. In only nine of the last 39 midterms has the president’s party lost eight or fewer seats. Again, one can concoct scenarios whereby a President Hillary Clinton controls the House during her term. They are just ones that take a tremendous leap of faith to predict.”