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Pre-Debate Drama

We've already had a bit of pre-debate drama this evening - and justifiably, I'd say. CBS News is hosting the debate this evening. And they put out word earlier today that they had dramatically rewritten the questions and the approach of tonight's debate in light of the terror attacks in Paris. On its face, that doesn't seem like such a crazy idea. It's hard to compare terror attacks. But by a lot of measures this is one of the worst mass casualty terror attacks in modern history - certainly in a major European or North American city. And the fact that ISIS is taking responsibility for the attacks puts America into the mix because of our possibly expanding role fighting ISIS.

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TPM's 15th Anniversary

Today marks the 15th anniversary of this website, Talking Points Memo, aka TPM. The first post on the site was posted on November 13th 2000. And the design was rather different. It looked like this.

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The Beginning Of The Trump Meltdown?

Here's my question: Is calling the people of Iowa "stupid" while at a campaign rally in Iowa the sort of break-all-the-rules move that finally pushes Trump over the edge? Or is that not substantively any different from calling America a bunch of pitiful losers who need a strong man like Trump to make them winners again? Because that message -- you're a chump, but I can lift you up and make you more than a chump -- has been the core resonance of the Trump message (along with the dark undertone of a promised revenge against the people -- Mexicans, elites, media, Wall Street -- who've been treating you like a chump.)

Kevin Drum called last night's Trump speech "a 95-minute meltdown." It's true that when you watch the snippet of Trump fooling around with his belt to cast further doubt on Ben Carson's stabbing story (those last 15 words standing as a lasting tribute to the 2016 GOP presidential primary), it does give you pause. But more than anything, the Trump schtick -- I'm a winner and I can make you a winner again! -- doesn't resonate the same way when Trump himself is losing to a Mr. Magoo like Carson. That's just a hard sell, even for the "stupid" people of Iowa.

Thank You, Doc Carson! (Pyramids Redux)

Yesterday one of my favorite Republican readers was ragging on me for saying that Ben Carson had suggested that the People's Liberation Army (the Chinese military) had joined the Russian military in fighting in Syria. He didn't say any such thing, my friend told me. In isolation, Carson's words may have been ambiguous, which is why I noted his comments in the way I did. But in the context of the question it was pretty clear that Carson was saying the Chinese military was in Syria, as the Russian military now is. This comes after a couple weeks of conspiracy theories percolating in far-right publications claiming that the Chinese are either already fighting in Syria alongside Russia or in process of sending troops to the region. Thankfully, Team Carson has saved me from whatever ambiguity there was or exposure I had. Carson campaign Svengali Armstrong Williams has now come forward to say that, yes, that is what Carson was talking about and that even if the foreign policy elite says this is nonsense, Carson has his own intelligence suggesting this is true. "From your perspective and what most people know, maybe that is inaccurate," Williams told MSNBC. "From our own intelligence and what Dr. Carson's been told by people who are on the ground who are involved in that region of the world, it has been told to him may times over and over, that the Chinese are there." Here's more.

Live Chat Today at Noon in The Hive

Jennifer Morgan, Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute, will host a live chat in the Hive (sub req) today. Jennifer has a long history of environmental activism, including stints at the Worldwide Fund for Nature and Third Generation Environmentalism. Her focus is on negotiating international climate agreements and the global response to the threat of climate change.

She'll stop by at 12 PM eastern for a spirited discussion on all things related to climate change and the environment. Please drop your questions here at or before 12 PM eastern!

The Good Doctor

As I've been reading up on Carson, there seems to be no limit on the number of rackets and wingnut fleecing schemes he's involved in. This appears to be just one on the list. As I wrote earlier, the campaign itself seems to have originated as a money-making scheme that evolved into a front-running campaign.