Thursday, October 29, 2015

Finally! Ted does a star turn

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FINALLY!  Ted Cruz was a stand out at a GOP presidential debate - about time.  He didn't have poor showings at the previous two, he just didn't make much of an impression at all. Which was not what I'd expected from the junior senator from Texas.  

A collegiate debate super star, he finally did the star turn last night I'd expected to see from the first.  And it was all the more powerful for NOT having shone at the earlier two.

Sen. Cruz seriously took the debate moderators down a peg or two.  Ignoring the first question he was asked, he instead turned the tables. I've heard people dismiss it because it's doubtful the remarks were totally spontaneous, but that's what a great debater does - comes prepared.  And ready to improvise to give the point made gravitas.  Ted did both, when he shot back, 
"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media. This is not a cage match. 'Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?'  How about talking about the substantive issues?"

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Brilliant!  His riposte will be remembered long after the fact checkers pointing out the fallacies of his comments are shrugged off.

Okay, so his comments wildly caricatured what had actually been asked - what Republican will care?
Donald Trump painted as a comic book villan?  No.  John Harwood noted that Trump's policies - pledging to build another wall & make another country pay for it, send 11 million people out of the country, cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit -   sound like "a comic book version of a presidential campaign."  

Ben Carson asked if he could do math?  Ah, nope.  Becky Quick DID ask about whether his tax plan's math added up - "You have a flat tax plan of 10 percent flat taxes.This is something that is very appealing to a lot of voters, but I've had a really tough time trying to make the math work on this. If you were to take a 10 percent tax, with the numbers right now in total personal income, you're gonna bring in $1.5 trillion. That is less than half of what we bring in right now. And by the way, it's gonna leave us in a $2 trillion hole. So what analysis got you to the point where you think this will work?"

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The Kasich question was based on reports in the New York Times that reported him as saying,  "Republicans who proposed abolishing Medicaid and Medicare, imposing a 10 percent flat tax, or deporting millions of people were out of touch with reality."

It would have been shocking if the panel hadn't asked Marco Rubio about resigning, since Jeb Bush had already gone there & the Sun-Sentinel had flat out called its state's native son to do just that if he wasn't going to bother showing up in D.C. to vote.

And NOT talking about one of the biggest actual stories from these early days of the primaries - Jeb Bush's falling ratings - would also have been tantamount to political malpractice.

So, kudos to Ted Cruz for finally delivering the debate performance I've looked forward to since hearing about his stellar skills.  My guess is his response led most news reports - great sound bite - and has many pundits giving his shared credit with Marco Rubio for the night's win.  

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Oh, and it allowed him to duck the question that had been asked - why he opposed a bipartisan budget deal averting a perfect storm of debt ceiling & Medicare & Social Security Disability Insurance crises. 

He was prepared, used illustrations that showed off his ability to remain clear headed & on point even in the heat of a national presidential debate (no small thing) & weave fresh info into his prepared comments.


Saturday, October 24, 2015


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Adele Stan seems spot-on when she writes, "To be sure, there were real problems in the State Department’s operation of the Benghazi consulate. Why, indeed, was it left so unprotected? But these were not the questions Republican committee members sought to answer; the truth of mere human failings would do little to advance the massive conspiracy theory that right-wing Republicans have been selling about the Clintons since before the current candidate’s husband took office in 1992.

"That conspiracy theory is a jumble of dark, murderous inferences against the Democratic power couple, all ginned up to suggest that the Clintons’ ultimate aim is to destroy America. In the latest iteration of the grand conspiracy theory, right-wingers hope to convince the public that Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration deliberately left the consulate unprotected for the express purpose of letting Americans die at the hands of Islamic extremist terrorists."

This last does seem to be a large portion of what House GOP interrogators investigators are staking out as reality - the Secretary of State & her minions  (specifically Sidney Blumenthal who, the story goes, sought to benefit from potential turmoil) wanted an attack to happen, sought the deaths of Americans at the hands of terrorists.

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This is the clear message that's been trumpeted from the right since the tragedy happened - they let it happen!  But then they trump that strong message with an even more strident one - Secretary Clinton hid the fact it was a terrorist attack in order to get President Obama reelected because people voted for him on the premise we'd defeated Al Queda.

Actually, people voted more against Mitt Romney than for Barack Obama.  Only the most deluded thought we'd defeated or even effectively contained Al Queda & claims of such sweeping deluded accomplishments are more likely to flow from the GOP than from the more measured Dems.

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But here's the jumbled GOP rational for the House Select Committee on Benghazi - they've wanted, from Day One, to show that Secretary Clinton intentionally left the consulate with insufficient protection in order to induce an attack that would kill Americans serving their nation's interests abroad & they've wanted to show that Secretary Clinton, having intentionally drawn the fire that killed Ambassador Stevens & three other Americans, would then claim it was not a terrorist attack but the result of anger over an insulting video.  

Sheez, and we used to think Hillary Rodham Clinton was a smart woman.  What sort of idiot would create a situation & then deny it?  The arguments make sense only to those who passionately detest HRC, who have loathed her from the moment she came on the national political scene.  They don't need pesky facts to let them know she is bad news & needs to pay for all the misdeeds we don't know about but are certain she did.  To many, maybe most, on the right, she's a man eater who played her husband, destroyed Vince Foster, conspired with Sidney Blumenthal to bring the wrath of terrorists down upon innocent Americans. 

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Hillary's appearance this past week before the House Select Committee on Benghazi & the coverage it received in the media made at least one thing clear - the issue isn't Benghazi, it isn't even Secretary Clinton.  It's that the real heart of GOP distress is Sidney Blumenthal, a development I didn't see coming but a terrific example of just how jumbled this whole mess has always been.  

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Just WHO taught these people Civics?

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Have been composing in my head a posting about how the GOP seems to have completely forgotten that the United States of America is supposed to be covered through negotiation & compromise, not capitulation & domination.   When I saw that Daily Kos had beat me to the punch, assumed they'd been triggered by Reince Priebus'  recent comments.  Nope - their spur was a recent Bloomsberg  interview with poli sci mavens Thomas Mann & Norman Ornstein revisiting their prescient 2012 book, It's Worse Than It Looks, a book whose message was largely neutered by a media that brushed aside the meat of its message in order to continue pursuing a false "false equivalency" meme.

Hey, give these two guys a pat on the back for not giving up, even though their message kept being ignored or diluted by a media that refused to listen.  They've been trying since 2008 (!) - yup, pre-President Obama - & their book, The Broken Branch, in which they laid out the strategic disintegration of the legislative branch & offered a blueprint for change.  

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The change appears to come during & after the 1994 election - in other words, after Newt Gingrinch's Contract With America changed what had been a carefully calibrated congress into an institution with one side of the aisle rigidly set against anything smacking of negotiation & compromise. Bargaining was given the heave ho & politically purity became the bywords of the Republican party.  

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Conservatives, in control of both the House & Senate for the first time in 40 years, gave the boot to the concept of regular order, cold shouldered the idea of deliberation, and flipped congress from a being a committee-based, decentralized institution into one now set along party lines.  
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Back in 1994, far-right conservatives like Newt conservatives considered compromise a dirty word.  In 2015, the whole conservative movement holds it as anathema.  Leaders like Ted Cruz would see government shut down as a viable way to get the conservative message heard, even when the legislation that created the crisis is inevitably going to crash & burn once it gets to the president's desk.  Better to create turmoil than to appear to acquiesce. 

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And still the media makes it out that both sides are equally to blame.  No.  The Democrats haven't anything like The Contract With America, they don't strut around demanding purity pledges or talk about "Democrats in Name Only."  That's the GOP & only the GOP.

In 2008, Mann & Ornstein did their best to warn us about what would come if the situation went unchecked. They tried again in 2012, with the same sorry cries of "a pox on both your houses" from the media.  No one in the mainstream media was willing to risk saying, "The GOP is out of control."

Too late now.  Political leaders have forgotten HOW our country was governed for over 200 years.  People had different political affiliation, but once they were elected to office the expectation was that they would serve the NATION's interests, not their party's.  Those days are gone.

Reince Priebus is quoted as claiming the GOP is "cooked" if it doesn't win the White House in 2016, because "if you don't hold the White House, it's very difficult to govern in this country - especially in Washington, D.C."

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Let this radical centrist translate - the present-day GOP knows how to dominate, not how to govern.  If they hold the House AND the Senate AND the presidency, THEN they know how to govern.  Don't take my word for it - read what Reince has to say

Who taught these people - in government & in the upper echelons of the GOP leadership - high school Civics?  They sure don't understand how the American system of governing was set up to work, haven't a clue how it worked for generation after generation.  Today, to them, it's not even about party.  It's of the ideology, for the ideology, by the ideology.

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