May 5

* Heather Digby Parton gets right to the heart of what the latest phase of the GOP’s Benghazi probe is all about:

The point of this strategy isn’t to bring down a politician with one scandal although they’d be perfectly happy if it did. These are such small-bore narratives that they know it’s unlikely. No, the point is to create an atmosphere of scandal, a sense that something’s not right, even though the worst they can prove is that there was miscommunication or confusion.

And as it happens, my column at the American Prospect today makes a similar argument. You’ll recall from the Clinton presidency that this is something Republicans are pretty good at.

* Jed Lewison has a useful guide to all of the major things Republicans believe about Benghazi, and why each of them is wrong.

* Brian Beutler notices something interesting: The only people who have actually been exposed for misbehavior related to Benghazi have been reporters who screwed up royally in trying to spin the story into something more dramatic than it was:

In feeding the story, Republicans have burned reporters in very public and damaging ways. It’s unclear why you’d have to manipulate evidence and promote pathological liars if the real story of Benghazi were anything like the Benghazi of the right’s fever dreams. Yet none of this has deterred those same reporters from returning to it anew, as if it were a brewing scandal, every time Republicans run out of other things to talk about. It’s like Benghazi Stockholm syndrome.

It’s important to remember that reporters, no matter their personal ideology, love a presidential scandal. Love, love, love it. There’s nothing they’d appreciate more than if some real malfeasance was uncovered, which may help explain the phenomenon Beutler identifies.

* The Washington Examiner has some details on what the select committee to investigate Benghazi will look like. There is no mention of who will be slaughtering the goats that will supply the bloody entrails which will then be cast into the fires of a volcano, revealing in smoke the full extent of Hillary Clinton’s treachery.

* The White House isn’t saying whether it will even cooperate with the committee, which could give Republicans exactly what they need to turn their umbrage-meters up to 11.

* Twitter went mad this morning over a  new Pew poll showing Republicans leading the generic congressional ballot by 4 points. But this afternoon a new CNN poll showed Republicans leading by only one point, with Dems holding a three point lead on who is preferred to control the Senate if the GOP keeps the House.  Maybe polling averages are the way to go? — gs

* Joe Sonka notes that Rand Paul is raising money for FreedomWorks, which means he’s raising money that will go to oppose his Kentucky colleague Mitch McConnell’s reelection. Not only that, Paul apparently signs his letters, “In Liberty, Rand Paul.”

* House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte, in describing the GOP refusal to act on immigration reform, won’t clarify whether Republicans want maximum deportations of people from the interior. Steve Benen boils down the absurdity of this:

1. Goodlatte won’t consider comprehensive immigration reform.

2. Goodlatte blames “trust” issues with President Obama.

3. Goodlatte would consider trusting Obama, but the president is already using executive branch authority to curtail deportations.

4. Asked if that means Goodlatte wants more deportations, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

It seems crazy, but that really is pretty much their position. — gs

* Kate Nocera reports that a debate is underway among Dems over whether Obama acting unilaterally to ease deportations could put undocumented immigrants in more legal jeopardy. The key here, as several advocates note, is that if Obama does act, it will be very hard politically for Republicans to undo. — gs

* And speaking of executive action, White House adviser John Podesta says there is “zero” chance that Republicans will be able to undo the regulatory actions Obama will take to address climate change.

* Newsweek’s Pema Levy tells the story of how the Republican establishment moved into North Carolina to ease the path of Thom Tillis to get the GOP nomination to face Sen. Kay Hagan.

* Dave Weigel defends Chris Christie against fat jokes, arguing that the governor has actually lost quite a bit of weight, so he’s now merely pleasingly plump.

* And the Tweet of the day, courtesy of liberal tweeter @LOLGOP:

If you think #Benghazi will matter more in 2016 than immigration reform, you’re obviously running the Republican Party right now.

Look out, GOP base: House leaders may just be cranking up all that Benghazi scandal talk in order to slip immigration reform past you! — gs