Posts tagged ‘Debate’

Discussing Politics with a Republican

Well there are Republicans and Republicans.  In general Trump supporters already have hardening of the arteries in the brain and you can kiss that one off as an exercise in futility. Nothing will happen.  You can present facts and data and they will be called “Fake News” and go on their way, surrounding themselves in the bubble of their fellow Trumpees and Fox News.  No point.  What we need to do is confront and shame those Republicans because they are enabling a world of ignorance and stupidity.  Also it is all they will respond to.  But what about the “old” Republicans who say Trump hijacked their party, Republicans who still might be rational?

Now I happen to think that Republicans have almost everything wrong, from economics (primarily economics) to social policy, global warming, and immigration, maybe even defense.  Now the first thing you will note is the Republican I am talking about gets social policy, global warming, and maybe immigration. They still like to blame problems on the lazy and see hard work as a solution in a world whose playing field is badly tilted, but they are susceptible to facts.  So facts and data are getting through.  On the military spending thing, we could argue whether it should consume so much of our budget.  So with that kind of Republican in mind, how do you debate?

Well, the answer to that is to take a “problem”, say immigration, and define the problem in a way that we can both agree what that problem is.  For immigration, what is the issue?  Is it masses flowing across the border running drugs?  Well, the data does not say that.  You both have to arrive at the same set of facts and data or we will never get off the ground.  President DFF said their was a drug epidemic in America when justifying the wall, but that “drug epidemic” is from opioids that are not coming across the border, but from big Pharma.  This kind of conflation is why we can’t solve problems.

So are immigrants taking jobs?  We are almost at full employment and the jobs they are taking are jobs that can’t be filled (see Puerto Ricans (I know they are citizens, but in effect immigrants based on our response to their hurricane disaster, a moral outrage) taking turkey processing jobs in South Dakota).  So what exactly is the immigrant problem?

The point is if we can finally identify the real problem, then we could argue solutions based upon facts and data.  The problem is we never have an agreement on the problem, so we are talking past one another.  If you are going to change a Republican’s mind, or for that matter, they are going to change yours, we have to have agreement on what the problem is, a common set of facts and data, not a word like immigration that could mean a million things.

So you ask them what the problem is in their mind (in the great tradition of Socrates) and then question their assumptions about what supports that view of the problem.  The easy one is global warming.  Rational Republicans know it is a problem and generally believe all the science.  So if we can agree weather patterns are changing with extreme storms and rising sea levels, what can we do?  Then we can explore infrastructure hardening, protection of our coast line, and limiting its effect through alternate energy solutions.  We can disagree on the details or the effectiveness of certain solutions, but at least then we are working off common basic assumptions. Note that this debate will bled over into economics.  “We can’t afford it.”

The economy is the hard one.  Most rational Republicans are basically moderate Democrats in that for most social issues they are liberal, but fiscally very conservative.  You know, that balanced budget thing because they confuse the microeconomics of a home or business budget with the macroeconomics of government spending.  So what is the issue with the economy?

Wall Street is booming.  Our deficit seems to have no impact on interest rates and inflation is nowhere to be seen.  Well I will tell you what I think is the problem, but they might not totally agree.  It is less and less of the pie being shared with the workers.  In a word, economic inequality that is making the majority feel that the future will not be as bright for their children (that just a fact).

We are not investing in our future and giving our treasury away (which will cause more debt if this is a Republican who thinks the debt is a problem) to the wealthy that will pay small dividends at best.  So if we could agree that economic inequality is the one of our big problems, then we could argue about the efficacy of supply side economics and how to make a more equitable distribution of the profits.  OMG! Taxes!

Well you get the drift.  As a general approach to discussing things with a Republican, use the Socratic method.  Ask questions which makes them examine their underlying assumptions that they really haven’t examined against facts and data.  But here is a caution.  David Brooks is a rational Republican, but only so far.  Somewhere in his smart brain is this fog when it comes anything Democratic. While he sees President DFF as a DFF, and he saw the tax cut as too much for the wealthy, in his heart he still is terrified of debt and government doing anything.  That should start a whole other discussion about whether government is the problem or not.  It never ends but at least it is a starting point.


Well, there you have it. A highly intelligent, experienced woman just debated a giant orange Twitter egg. Your move, America”. #debate J.K. Rowling.

My thoughts exactly.  Without a doubt, the man would be a disaster as president and his whole being exemptified that.  I think what is the biggest take away is that he does not respect our democracy or Constitution.  He only respects winning and that makes him a very dangerous person.  The news media is all over his refusal to accept our most basic contract in a democracy, the will of the people.  Don’t be fooled by his son (Donald Jr.) telling us that we have to wait and see, there could be irregularities.  Remember Florida in 2000?  There is a process already in place for close elections.  So if you are an American, your patriotic duty is to vote and accept the results and abide by them.  On that alone, he demonstrated how unqualified he is.  But let’s talk issues.

The media said he held his own for about 30 minutes and I heard one Republican pundit tell us he won 13 out of 14 of the issues. Larry Kudlow said he scored some strong points.  Say what? Points for Republican talking points and not real understanding that they don’t fly anymore. I will in the next day go through the debate, filter out the bullshit, and just layout how they answered the questions and compare that to reality or what we know of past policies and their performance.  In most cases his policy stuff was either based upon a false premise (read lie), or has already proven a failure (tax cuts for the wealthy).

I think most Americans got their fill last night and came to the conclusion, Hillary is the only rational choice.  The only question is how big and whether the Democrats can get the Senate, do in the filibuster, and nominate some Supreme Court Justices.  Because if they don’t, Senator McCain already spilled the beans on their plan for obstruction once again. We have a chance to move the country forward if people will just get off their asses and vote.

Policies and the Upcoming Debate

We have Donald the pathological liar, xenophobe, racist, nativist, and now clearly pervert along with his misogyny.  So that part of the election is over.  But what has not had a good airing are ideas and the way forward.  Hillary has a lot of detailed plans for our future, but they are going nowhere unless we have the debate about them and she wins it.  The Donald is really selling lies, of course, and policies that have failed us, flow-down (cut taxes for the wealthy), smaller government (the federal government is smaller than it has ever been since 1965), and less regulations (anybody remember the meltdown in 2008?).  Oh, but I forgot his “secret plans”.

Paul Ryan has figured this out and while not mentioning the Donald, is out pushing the old Republican ideas with fancy new wrapping.  He also indicated that they would not give an inch on a President Clinton.  President Obama, in Ohio today, took on Republican ideas which Hillary seems to be avoiding to attract moderate Republicans.  It is a strategic error of gargantuan proportions.  I just heard a Republican woman argue who should she vote for, a woman or the policies I believe in.  She badly needs to move her campaign to their policies and the history of their obstruction. Here are some relevant parts of President Obama’s speech today.  First is the complicity of the Republicans, all Republicans:

The United States of America has always stood for something better. Which, by the way, is part of why I’m disturbed about Republican elected officials who know better but are still supporting this guy.

In part, what’s happened here is over the last eight years, Republican officials who know better — they are sane people, normal folks, but what they’ve done is they’ve allowed a lot of crazy talk to be pumped out again and again through all kinds of these media outlets, conspiracy theories, I was born outside this country and Hillary and I started ISIL and we are going to impose martial law and take everyone’s guns away and crazier stuff than that.

A lot of Republican elected officials have stood by, a lot of House members, a lot of Senators stood by and they didn’t say anything because it was a way to rile up their base and mount opposition to whatever we were trying to do. Over time, because a lot of the hard-core Republican partisan voters were just hearing this stuff over and over again, they started to believe it. That’s what allowed Donald Trump suddenly to emerge.

Donald trump suddenly didn’t build on this conspiracy stuff. — didn’t suddenly build all this conspiracy stuff. Even during the course of this campaign, they didn’t say anything. I know some of them now are walking away. Why did it take you this long?

You said you are the party of family values. You weren’t appalled earlier when he was saying degrading things about women? When he was judging them based on a score if they were a two or 10? That wasn’t enough for you.

It wasn’t disturbing enough for you when he was saying Mexicans come here are rapists? Or suggesting that people, patriotic Americans of the Islamic faith somehow are suspect and should be treated differently? That wasn’t enough?

I’m glad that some of them now say wow, that’s really bad, i guess we need to walk away. If you are doing it just for political expediency because you are looking up old numbers and you say this might get me in trouble, that is not enough to — looking at poll numbers and you say this might get me in trouble, that is not enough.

How is it that you stand silently when you nominate a guy who says a guy he admires is the former head of the KGB? If you say you are about the constitution and you are opposed to what Obama is doing with executive action because that shows he is a tyrant, but you are ok with a guy who says to his opponent in the middle of the debate, I will for you in jail — throw you in jail, how does that work? It doesn’t work.

Then he takes on Republican ideas and starts pushing real policies:

This election, whatever issue you care about, it could not be easier for you to vote. If you care about equality, you need to vote. If you felt the Bern in the primaries, you need to vote. You can vote for somebody who will fight like heck for working people. Make sure we’ve got a minimum wage rates, equal pay for equal work.

You care about criminal justice reform and civil rights, you can vote for somebody who has fought for civil rights or for somebody who went — if you care about the environment and climate change, you can vote for somebody who in thinks it’s a hoax or somebody who believes there something called science and we should pay attention to it. If you care about immigration reform and you want to see this nation continue as a nation of one, you have to get out there and vote.

Donald Trump’s closing argument is, what do you have to lose? The answer is everything. On the progress we’ve made is on the ballot. Stability is on the ballot. — disability is on the ballot. Courtesy is on the ballot. — civility is on the ballot. Courtesy is on the ballot. Kindness is on the ballot. All the progress we made the last eight years is on the ballot. Democracy itself is on the ballot right now. If you want to send a message, make it loud. Turn back the voices of ignorance. Send a message of progress, send a message of hope.

In light of this, and I strongly feel that the future of nation is at stake if Hillary does not lean forward in the saddle and take on all Republicans on their policies.  It is not good enough to tarnish the Donald and say I am better.  Not if you want to lead the nation out of the wilderness the Donald and Republicans have taken us into.  We have a debate next week and that is the time to turn the corner.  The media are finally on the hunt of Donald’s lies and perversions,  It is time to take on Republican’s failed policies, and real change.

I made a suggestion for a debate format that would focus on the issues and establish the same reality we are all talking about in a past blog.  Basically the moderator has done his/her homework, and is going to ask the following questions by establishing that reality (facts).  He would challenge the speaker if they did not answer the question or lied directly.

The format would be as follows:  I would give each candidate 5 minutes to present their plans and policies, push back if they don’t have any, or misrepresent the known facts (like there is no herd trying to cross our borders or point out that the federal government is smaller than at any time since 1965), and then give each candidate a 2 minute rebuttal. Note that while one candidate is speaking, the other’s microphone will be off and interruptions will not be tolerated.  Running over  your time subtracts from the time allowed for the next response. Here are the critical questions:

  1. The scientific world has verified that climate change is happening, man caused, and accelerating with large impacts to our coast line and infrastructure.  Our military has presented plans around possible global threats as a result of climate change. Please present your plans and strategies to address how you would address climate change in your administration.
  2. Economic inequality has become more pronounced than quite possibly any other time in our history.  It would appear that our economic system has been increasing economic inequality for the last 50 years.  Please present your plans and strategies to address economic inequality remembering that the Republican appointed Budget Director for the Congressional Budget Office pointed out that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves and our present policies appear to be increasing that inequality and decreasing the income of the middle class.
  3. Considering the fact that the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has actually fallen since 2005, only about half are Mexicans, and economists tell us that immigrants contribute about 14.7% of our economy and have a positive impact on the labor market, please present your plans and strategies to address immigration for our future.
  4. Note that the FBI has indicated that the real terror threat in America is homegrown, drone strikes have been counter productive according to our own CIA, and our war on terrorism has increased terrorism, please present your plans and strategies to address global terrorism, and include in that   your plan for Syria.
  5. Note that the American Society of Civil Engineers have estimated that we would need $3.6 trillion just to raise the country’s support systems to acceptable levels.  Additionally we need to upgrade our infrastructure to account for climate change.  Please present your plans and strategies to address repairing our infrastructure.
  6. Considering the majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose, while state legislatures have introduced abortion restrictions in 43 states, and women only earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, please present your plans and strategies to address women’s choice and equal pay for equal work.
  7. Please summarize your vision for our country (no rebuttal and 3 minutes each).

Now would that be a great debate or what?  Note I provided links for fact challenged moderators. Do you think the way I asked the question, they are biased?  Only if facts bias the answer and in our political system they do because one Party has rejected facts to hang on to their policies.  Kind of tells you how well they would work if they ever got put in power.  Have a nice weekend.



Well the denial is over with mostly.  Fox News of course will continue to spin the debate, but Donald Trump failed and failed miserably.  It is not that he failed, but he clearly showed who he was which was failure.  Now here is where I really find what is going on rather disheartening.  The Republican chatting class are all chatting about how to better prepare him next time as though being prepared would change who he is.  In the political lingo, he needed to be presidential so those on the fence could finally say, well, he could do it.  But what we saw on Monday night was who he really was and he could never be presidential.  Most of us have known that for a long long time, but there is that 7% undecided who are clueless, or that whole pack that is going to vote third party, shirking their responsiblity to make a meaningful choice, which is a choice in itself.

But after watching him expose who he was and how ignorant he is, it was clear he would be a danger to the country.  So how craven are these political pundits that still in some socio-pathological way, still want to dress him up in a false costume so he will pass muster with the mindless out there?  And mindless they are.  The man is petty, misogynistic, reactionary, ignorant, racist, and he was caught in so many blatant lies it was scary.  Whether he believes them or not is irrelevant.  And yet Republicans still want to tell us how he can do better next time?  He is a reflection of how dysfunctional the Republican Party has become and it should wake up America.  From the clown show they called a Presidential primary, to this pathological liar as their standard-bearer, the party has no morals or values.

And yet you cannot keep wondering how conservatives keep enabling him.  You would think at this point they should walk away.  Real conservatism, which I think has run its course, still has values and beliefs and cares about this country.  Anyone associating with the Trump campaign is now forever tainted with the slime that comes off this man.  Is that what Republicanism has become?  They are so craven to party power that they have no values or morals anymore?  I think for most of them, this is sadly true.  How else can you explain it?  On Monday night he was out there for all to see and now they pretend they did not see it.

I think I might know what happened to conservatism that finally left it mired in a moral-less, value-less pit.  It failed.  And when it failed it did not evolve.  Remember the cry of some conservatives about where are the new conservative ideas? There aren’t any.  From Ronald Reagan onward, conservative ideas simply increased economic inequality and set up the economy for the giant crash.  The George Bush years was the epitome of Republicanism and the economy tanked.  They learned nothing.

Now they are back acting like that never happened, only more aggressive and radical in their approach, losing all tolerance for compromise, enabled by the false equivalency of both sides do it.  Evolving to what reality was telling them was heresy. In other words, in the face of the reality that almost everything they believe in is bankrupt, they created an alternate reality.  Somehow Democrats have caused all the misery and are evil.  Sadly our media played along and enabled them because their lunacy was good entertainment.

So here we are.  We now have seen an ignorant, bigoted, pathological liar exposed and yet they press on as though the emperor just needs new cloths.  The reality is the emperor is a man that could just wreck this country and start WWIII, and yet they press on living in some fantasy reality because the barbarians at the gate (Democrats) might rule on.  Think about it.  Even if you hate Hillary, she won’t wreck the country and she won’t get us into WWIII.  And if Republicans give her a chance and her policies fail, there will be a new election.  But instead, in the mind of the purist, they would rather kill the country than give success a chance.  That is where we are.  That is what has been exposed on Monday night and in the aftermath.  At this point you have to ask how anyone rational could be a Republican.

The Missing Debate

The debate tonight will probably be shaped by three factors, character, economics, and terrorism.  If you have been paying attention, and most have not, Hillary wins the character and economics argument hands down.  The NYT did a very good job of describing her character when they endorsed her yesterday.  The confusion has come from the press trying to make the Donald’s pathological lying equivalent to Hillary’s emails*.  I would love to see the Donald survive an FBI investigation.  She has a history of fighting for the little person (both economically and in stature) while he has a history of ripping them off.

On economics, there is no comparison.  The Donald bloviates about helping the middle class and then proposes a more extreme form of flow down than we have ever seen. As the NYT told us this morning in an editorial of why Donald Trump Should Not Be President:

Despite his towering properties, Mr. Trump has a record rife with bankruptcies and sketchy ventures like Trump University, which authorities are investigating after numerous complaints of fraud. His name has been chiseled off his failed casinos in Atlantic City…But voters should be asking themselves if Mr. Trump will deliver the kind of change they want. Starting a series of trade wars is a recipe for recession, not for new American jobs. Blowing a hole in the deficit by cutting taxes for the wealthy will not secure Americans’ financial future, and alienating our allies won’t protect our security. Mr. Trump has also said he will get rid of the new national health insurance system that millions now depend on, without saying how he would replace it.

Hillary brings progressive policies that are a start to addressing the fundamental problem with our economy and that is economic inequality.  She has laid out policies that start to make government work for the middle class again.  Donald is betting on flow down and all the old conservative policies that have worked terrifically for the 1%.  But in one area, although Hillary presents a more coherent plan, they may be missing the mark a little.  That would be terrorism.

Make no mistake, the Donald has no plan except to beat up every bully that kicks sand in our eyes.  That would be ISIS’s dream date that could embroil America in a war against Islam.  The Donald has a “secret plan” to defeat ISIS, while Hillary has laid out maybe a slightly more aggressive approach in the continuation of the Obama strategy to support, but not fight the battle.  And in this election season saying more might be a negative as Americans tire of war, but in true schizophrenic fashion, want to kick ISIS’s butt.  But I want you to consider this from the King of Jordan, Abdula II, who on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS described the war against ISIS as really WWIII. I tend to agree with him.  This is a war between 5th century ignorance and intolerance, and modernity and democracy.

He pointed out that ISIS moves to another country (Libya, Africa) when things get to hot in say Iraq which they are right now.  He also pointed out that we are talking about less than 2% of the Muslim world and these religious extremists, like religious extremists that have arisen before in all religions have to be defeated by the majority of that religious sect.  When asked if the United States should be more actively engaged in the battle, he said what I think is critical, we should be enabling the battle, not fighting it.  Jordan has taken on more refugees and is actively fighting ISIS yet with antiquated equipment and a poor nation.  So eventually we have to take King Abdula’s advice and rethink our strategy.  Remember, ignored and dispossessed refugees will be the terrorists of tomorrow.

While he did not say it, Donald Trump represents everything that ISIS could hope for.  Making Islam the problem and alienating the Muslim world is what they are hoping for.  From his isolationist approach to his description of how he might deal with Iranians who made obscene gestures at us, it is the approach that will further exacerbate an alienation of Muslims.  So again while we need to rethink our approach to ISIS with a more holistic approach, do we think the Donald has a clue?  Hillary does and she will move cautiously.  The debate will deal in sound bites, but you have to see who could have an evolving approach to a realistic approach to the problem.

One last thing on foreign affairs.  Fareed also had a piece on how the Russians were moving to considering using low yield nuclear weapons in conflicts where they thought it might change the balance of power with the assumption that the West would not respond.  This is what Vladimir Putin has brought us, the Donald’s ideal of leadership.  We are entering another cold war, if you have not been paying attention, and Donald Trump is oblivious.

So when you get done with the debates and the rational arguments, you still have people chosing Trump because he seems decisive and strong.  Impulsive and defensive is more like it.  Nicole Wallace, a Republican, reported to her horror that her parents were supporting the Donald:

Like many Trump supporters, my parents believe that only someone from outside the political establishment possesses the necessary skill to break the cycle of dysfunction** in Washington. They are not racists, misogynists, anti-Muslim or anti-American. They see Mr. Trump as the deeply flawed candidate he is, but they find Mrs. Clinton more deficient. Their second choice this year was Bernie Sanders.

Okay, I just laid out why that is an irrational point of view.  But I will send you back to my early blog, The Gated Community Syndrome, political persuasion is not rationally decided.  For Republicans, who are fearful people to begin with, strength and bluster, leading to totalitarianism puts their mind at ease.  I rest my case.

*Emails were a non-story.  If we want context, lets look at Collin Powell’s emails.  Oh wait, he refused to provide them.  Secrecy?  We have over classified the world and I would bet anything classified in her emails could be found in the newspaper.  Oh and Collin recommended using a private server so you could get things done.  The press ran away with this because they had nothing else.  So for Donalds 80% of lies, they made it equivalent to Hillary’s 80% of truths.  Yes she has changed position on things.  We should be glad for that.  Republicans haven’t change and regressed.  Again, where is the problem.

**The “cycle of dysfunction” comes from Republicans who won’t compromise on anything, wanted to make Barack Obama a one term President, and brought us the Tea Party that would rather shut down the government than find reasonable solutions.  Nicole’s parents are the problem of dysfunctional government.

Hillary’s Big Moment

Hillary went after Bernie last night in what was one of the more testy moments and I will let her speak for herself:

“There is this attack that he is putting out, which really comes down to, anybody who took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought,” she said. “And I just absolutely reject that, senator. And I really don’t think these attacks by insinuation and innuendo are worthy of you. Enough is enough. If you’ve got something to say, say it directly.”

There is a problem here and it is called the appearance of impropriety.  The appearance of impropriety is a phrase referring to a situation which to a layperson without knowledge of the specific circumstances might seem to raise ethics questions. As a government official who controlled contracts and contractors who worked for the government, I and my fellow government officials are held to a higher standard than actually doing something inappropriate, but putting myself in a position where there could be a perceived impropriety.

I could in fact be fired or censored even though I did not do anything wrong.  Court Justices are held to the same standard.  We don’t want the appearance of being unfair even if we are not because it undermines people’s faith in our integrity and in the government. As Bernie noted:

There is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system. It is undermining American democracy and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country.”

With the Clintons there certainly is an appearance of impropriety especially with the Clinton Foundation.  And it goes directly to the trust factor, who gets access, and whether that might impact your judgement.  In other words, for people working in government it is a valid concern and she and her campaign should know better than to complain, “Show me where I did anything wrong?”  That part is almost impossible to prove unless you are the Governor of Virginia now residing in the slammer.  But it really does make you part of the Democratic establishment and the way our government has been doing business. I mean why do they pay you six figures to talk anyway?

American Sniper

Well it has been a year and I finally gutted up and watched it.  There was a raging argument about whether it glorified war or not.  I can now tell you unequivocally in my mind it was a very clever anti-war war movie acted wonderfully by Bradley Cooper.  It was seductive.  Here is this kid raised in the words of “Mama Grizzly” with country values.  We are all sheep, wolves, or sheepherders.  Your role in life was to be a sheepherder.  If you paid attention, this simplified view of the world did not serve Chris Kyle very well.  

It showed the almost inane strategy of our occupation and how our occupation just caused more misery.  Yes there were very bad guys preying on the local population, but our hunting of them just caused more havoc.  And most importantly it showed the price paid for tour after tour while the rest of us went shopping.  Kyle was played in the movie as an American hero, doing his duty, keeping the terrorist out of America, and never questioning his role.  That is where the Bradley Cooper portrayal was so masterful.  There was the vaguest sense about him that he was hanging onto his “country values” by the very tips of his finger nails.  It simply wasn’t that simple.

There was that wonderful scene where his friend questions what the hell they are doing over there and Kyle gives us the trite argument about protecting our country and the American way.  Later back in the States, at his friends funeral, after his friend’s mother had read a letter from him questioning the war, Kyle’s wife asks Kyle if he had discussed this with his friend before he died. Kyle tells her yes and that was when he was dead.  You are either all in or you were dead.  To me that was the you are either a sheep, wolf, or a sheepherder.  It was an attempt to hold on to well defined boundries and not let the chaos in when you recognized the gray. You were either black or white.

In the scene where the doctor asks Kyle if maybe he had seen things he did not want to think about and noted he had 160 kills, were any of those questionable, Kyle is steadfast in his belief (verbally) that they were all good kills protecting his troops.  But you can see the almost imperceptible hesitation.  The knowledge somewhere deep in his psychic that it wasn’t that simple, and it was tearing him apart.  In the end, that war finally did kill him as he tried to put himself back together helping others that war tore apart.

So my judgement is that if you are awake, this movie is about the cost of war, the mindlessness of war, and how simplified values are used to justify it.  It was about a basically good man who the system used up and spit out.  It was an attempt to show the 99% of those that never served, what the cost is and it is never as simple as good against evil.  I thought it was a masterful portrayal.

Who Won, Who Lost

That would be the news this morning, not the issues discussed.  Probably if we had a real news media instead of People Magazine rejects posing as political pundits, we could have had a real discussion about who presented sensible proposals for a way forward, but we don’t.  All of the usual suspects are anointing Hillary as the clear winner, which I am sure leaves a bad taste in their mouths, so she did well.  From their point of view, there is nothing more fun than beating up on Hillary.  But I am not so sure about her winning except with the chattering classes.

The first thing that should have been reported was that Democrats were discussing real policies and ideas, clearly lacking in Republican debates full of bashing Obama and anger.  But there was one question that was asked which is the crux of any way forward:  How does selecting you as President change anything if you still have the same Republican Congress?  How will you get anything done?  That is really the key to change.

Hillary’s answer was that she is an experienced politician and she can get people to work together.  I think that was tried by President Obama and totally failed.  Bernie’s answer was that we need a tide of people rising up to challenge and hold Republicans accountable.  His answer while seeming “revolutionary” is the only way America is going to change.  Hillary painted a picture of a liberal President hewing slightly more left than President Obama.  It is not the picture that says change.  Bernie paints a picture of really challenging the status quo that resonates better with the youth vote, so necessary for any change.

I also got the feeling Hillary was hedging and sometimes out of touch.  Bernie and Hillary clashed on regulating banks and that is really a function of her and Bill being cozy with the financial sector and Bernie seeing our present system as the basis of the economic inequality in the country.  Ezra Klein has an excellent analysis of this here.  Her answer on whether Snowden should be allowed to come home was a real insight into her failure to see how the system really works:

“He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.”

You can’t seriously believe that.  The system likes to flatten those who want to speak truth to power.  He would have been treated the same or worse than was Bradley Manning and we would never have seen an open trial.  It begs the question if she really understands what us little people see everyday.  In a way her problem with emails is symptomatic of that.  She is getting a lesson on how the system works for most of us.

Her answers on the marijuana question, I thought was telling about Hillary and change.  Asked if  after  a year of seeing recreational marijuana in the states was she ready to legalize it federally.  No, she needs to see more.  I guess for me this is a defining issue (not marijuana) but being able to decide without polls and safety nets, what is the right thing to do.  It is really her greatest fault as a leader.  To me it says change under a President Clinton will be small when we need big bold steps.

I am prejudiced.  I believe Bernie has a better path forward, but I know Hillary is more electable.  Hillary came out tough last night, but what I saw really was a continuation of President Obama’s third term.  And I don’t think with her answers she is exciting the young people who need to get out and vote that Bernie calls his revolution, a real revolt against Republican control of Congress.  I hope I am wrong.  We will see in the days ahead how she does, not with the chattering classes but with the “revolutionary guard” that needs to get out to the polls to really change things.

Their Own Worst Enemies

I am wondering, with or without Donald Trump, is the election season and the debates really the worst thing that could happen to the Republican Party?  The reason I say that is generally  our lackluster press basically goes with a he said/she said coverage of the news.  Except for Jon Stewart (in his last week on the Daily Show), nobody bothers looking at the hypocrisy or outright lies.  As an aside, the younger generation doesn’t get their news from Jon just because it is more entertaining (it is), but because it is more accurate than our “fair and balanced” national media.

But I get distracted.  What goes on in Washington is largely lost on most of the population who simply have lives and do not pay that close attention.  That is why the myth of both sides do it is still believed by the majority of Americans.  But they are not paying attention to the 40+ times Republicans have wasted Congress’s times passing legislation to repeal Obamacare (ACA).  Even the defunding of Planned Parenthood would be background noise except for the fact that the Republican presidential candidates have supported it.  The massive use of the filibuster by Republicans when the Democrats had control of the Senate is why nothing happens, but no one noticed.  What they saw was nothing ever gets done.

But now the 17 candidates for the GOP presidential primary are out there and we are forced to really look at them.  It is not a pretty sight. For example Chris Christie’s toughness turns out to be bullying in the light of day and the citizens of New Jersey warn us he would not be a good president.  His canceling of the tunnel project between New Jersey and New York City and using the money to cover up his failure to raise gas taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements has left New Jersey in very bad shape.  Low taxes and lots of jobs did not happen.

Jeb Bush is pushing his Florida record, which turns out to be riding the housing bubble and then leaving office just before it crashed which left Florida in very bad shape.  He did learn something very important from his brother, get out before the whole thing comes falling down (George left us with the Middle East to clean up and a massive financial crisis).  Jeb, now in the spotlight, has made utterances like people just need to work harder that have shown us how clueless he and the rest of them are about our economy.  Oh and let’s not forget vouchers for Medicare.  Sooner or later someone is going to bring up how he used government to decide the fate of Terry Schiavo against her and her husband’s wishes.

Too bad Governor Brownback of Kansas isn’t running for office so the whole disaster of Republican economic policies could be on display where education is being gutted to pay for tax cuts, and there are no new jobs.  But we have Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who has a favorability rating of 27% in the state.  Baton Rouge conservative writer and activist Scott McKay added, with characteristic bluntness, “The mess Jindal has made of Louisiana’s budget is going to destroy his political career.”  I guess these guys think they can just move to another stage and we won’t look at how their Republican ideas worked at the state level.  Kasich and Walker have similar problems.  Remember Kasich was against the auto bailout and now his state is doing fine with one in six jobs in the auto industry. Now he takes credit for all that.

But of course the best part is that they actually have to state their positions.  They all do not believe in global warming.  They are all against the Iran nuclear treaty and Walker has basically said he would end it and be ready to go to war. Want to go to war in the Middle East again America?  Most want to insert their religion in government.  They all came out against Planned Parenthood.  See how they feel about women ladies?  And what has not been so evident, but will be is that they want to cut our safety nets to pay for more tax cuts for all that “flow down” that simply does not happen.  I can’t wait to hear their schemes to fund the massive investment required to repair our infrastructure, if they have one.  Oh and let’s not forget they all hate Obamacare and will repeal it, but have no plan for a replacement.  And we need more guns (See Governor Perry).

The point is simply that this is now going to be front and center as these clowns stand up in the American spotlight of the presidential primaries. And that ignores the Donald and his mad as hell racism, without a plan to deal with anything he is mad as hell about.  Oh, and let’s not forget how it is now nakedly apparent that Fox News and Roger Ailes is controlling the Republican Party.  Maybe we can finally do away with that fantasy that Fox News is anything but conservative propaganda.  So there you have it.  What us news and politics junkies have known for a long time but now is being put on display.  The Republican Party and their cast of presidential hopefuls are a giant clown act living in a fantasy land.  And in this ring …  

The Party was doing fine when no one was paying attention and our media was asleep at the he said/she said news coverage of facts.  But now they actually have to defend their fantasies and they are looking like the clowns they are.  Maybe the lesson learned for the Republican Party is no debates next time and only appearances on Foc News.  Opps.  Fox News but you get the idea.  

Conventional Wisdom about Women’s Response to Aggressiveness in Debate

The conventional wisdom was that women were turned off by the aggressiveness and in your face of the debate last night. That may be true, but think it through. Mitt Romney wasn’t any different than he was last time, and the difference is that Barack Obama pushed back. What would they have had him do, repeat the last debate’s performance?

Andrea Mitchell had the young lady on who asked the question about what either candidate would do to ensure a women’s equal place in the workplace (Katherine Fenton who asked, “In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”). She is still undecided. Does she listen to Rush Limbaugh or Republicans in general who reflect a basic misogyny?  Has she looked at how the Republicans vote when it comes to women’s issues and if they ban contraception, does she think she can hold a job while pregnant and barefoot?  One has to truly wonder at the undecided.  My guess is she is really a conservative, but she is somehow trying to justify voting for them in spite of the obvious about women’s issues.