Editors' Blog

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Absolutely Fascinating

Fascinating look at how Haiti became a critical wedge issue in the 1932 presidential election, allowing Republicans to keep African-American votes for FDR remarkably low. The story goes back to the US occupation of Haiti almost a century ago and how FDR, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, actually wrote the new Haitian constitution himself. Yes, FDR wrote the Haitian constitution! That fact and the US occupation itself came back to haunt him in 1932. Check it out - amazing chapter of 20th century history I was totally unaware of.

Benghazi and the Journalism of Permission

As Hillary Clinton gets ready for the first Democratic nomination debate tonight and testimony before the 'Benghazi Committee' later this month, the tables are suddenly dramatically turned. Ever since 'Benghazi' got pulled into the maelstrom of the House GOP leadership debacle with former-future Speaker Kevin McCarthy's ill-considered frankness about the political priorities of the 'Benghazi' 'investigation', everything's changed. There are calls for the committee to be disbanded. Everyone associated with it is on the defensive. And now suddenly there's a former committee investigator suing over wrongful termination because he claims he refused to focus the entire investigation on Hillary Clinton.

The most notable change is the attitude of the Beltway press corps. After a year of peddling selectively leaked transcripts and hyperventilating over and repeating tendentious readings of unexceptional process stories, suddenly everyone is asking whether it could possibly be true that this was just a political witch hunt all along.

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From a Liberal Gun Nerd

Whenever we have a spate of news on a highly polarized issue, I usually get at least one lengthy email from a reader who seems to confound the accustomed partisan and ideological alignments behind the issue. (Remember TPM Reader LC, the liberal cop from the greater New York metro region during the height of the Ferguson protests). This time it's guns and TPM Reader JA, self-identified 'liberal gun nerd' from Austin, Texas. As preface, as I told JA privately via email, I disagree with his core premise, which is that gun control advocates are missing or passing up lots of opportunities for constructive compromise with responsible gun owners. As I noted, in my posts last week I think the last two decades have shown this is demonstrably not true.

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Can You Spare Us One Moment?

We kicked off our Prime membership drive on three weeks. And so far so good. But we need a lot of people who've always thought, "Yeah, I'll sign up at some point" to take a couple minutes right now and join our club, our team. It's not much: just a touch more than a pricey cup of coffee each month. ($50 annually; $4.99 monthly) As I noted, there are lots of features and site enhancements you get by joining Prime (more details on that here). But the best and most important reason is that it's critical to the future of TPM - because TPM is that rare thing, a truly independent publication. There's no big corporation behind us, no VC money, no generous philanthropist or foundation. We need to balance the books the old fashioned way. And to do that, we need a significant amount of our revenue to come from our readers. So can you stop for a moment, right now, and sign up? Just click right here. And from all of us, thanks.

Poll of the Day

Who do you think will win the Republican presidential nomination?

Since July we've been running an Insight Poll asking people who they believe will win the Republican nomination. As I've noted before, these are polls of center-left voters who rank as 'opinion leaders' or 'influencers' by a variety of metrics. In a sense, they're the last people you'd look to for insight on who's going to be the GOP nominee. But their opinions are valuable because, unlike Republicans, they have no dog in the fight. Since few if any of them are Republicans, they're not biased by who they'd like to see win. For people who closely follow politics, they're as close as you get to disinterested observers.

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Divine Comedy

Freedom Caucus member Trent Franks (R-AZ) here lists off a number of 'Valley Forge Americans' who could take the reins as House Speaker. Notably, they include hard core conservatives and Paul Ryan. For good measure he includes Newt Gingrich - remember, you don't actually have to be in the House at all to be Speaker, though the idea has never before been seriously considered.

What's notable here isn't so much the list but this harrowing, 'their finest hour' phrase "Valley Forge Americans", as though the US were Britain after the Fall of France or well ... the US facing the early death of the republic at Valley Forge.

Quite simply they've actually convinced themselves that they're in the midst of some grand world historical moment when in fact they're just floundering in derp.

We keep hearing how the Speakership is a thankless job and all the rest. Two hundred and twenty five years and no one has ever thought that. It's always been a job people have spent years, even decades striving for. It's always been wanted. Until now. It's comedy. Also, Valley Forge Americans ... We all know individuals like this. It's known as Borderline Personality Disorder. It's a clinical diagnosis. Not sure if there's a parallel for political parties.

Okay, It's Gonna Be Ryan

I was just watching MSNBC run through the Speaker scenarios which they define as 1) Paul Ryan caves 2) Boehner takes retirement mulligan and stays Speaker through January 2017 or 3) Miscellaneous freaks who can't possibly unite the caucus or be ready for prime time run. Then I saw Rep. John Mica (R-FL) being interviewed on CNN who said that Ryan has to become Speaker for the good of the country and that he himself had just told him that in person. So he can't refuse, says Mica.

The whole situation is comical. But the alternatives are just so ridiculous and the desperation of the House Republicans so manifest that I'd bet Ryan caves and becomes Speaker, possibly even with the Freedom Caucus telling him in advance they'll depose him. I just doubt there's any way he can resist the pressure.

Live Chat with Counterterrorism Expert J. Dana Stuster, Oct. 13th, 2 PM Eastern

We’re excited to announce that J. Dana Stuster, a counterterrorism expert and journalist, will be joining us in the Hive (sub req) for a live chat. Dana is a policy analyst at the National Security Network, and he’s written about the Middle East for publications including The Atlantic, Foreign Policy and Defense One.

He’ll be stopping by at 2 PM on Tuesday October 13th to answer your questions about the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. counter-terror policy, drone warfare, and the lingering effects of the American invasion of Iraq. Please drop there here at or before 2 PM on Thursday, and check out some of Dana’s articles below.

— Joe Ragazzo

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