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Thoughts on the Debate

At the suggestion of a follower, here are the thoughts I shared on Facebook during tonight’s Republican Presidential debate:

Thought #1: Why am I drawn to presidential debates like a moth to a flame, like a child to a candy bar … because it may be the only place where an evangelical Christian running for President can claim that the reason we must defeat Iran is because their faith is one that believes the end times will occur in their life time and that is a problem. Because you know, evangelicals certainly don’t believe that, right.

Well maybe not … I guess when it comes to a believe in the end times, it matters whether it is our belief or theirs.

“While only 36 percent of all Americans believe that the Bible is God’s Word and should be taken literally, 59 percent say they believe that events predicted in the Book of Revelation will come to pass. Almost one out of four Americans believes that 9/11 was predicted in the Bible, and nearly one in five believes that he or she will live long enough to see the end of the world. Even more significant for this study, over one-third of those Americans who support Israel report that they do so because they believe the Bible teaches that the Jews must possess their own country in the Holy Land before Jesus can return.”

Thought #2 — women are lucky. If you’re a man at an important event like a Presidential debate, you have to wear a suit — either black or extremely dark gray. But a woman? She gets to wear power blue!!!!

It’s gonna be a fun night. I’m settling in for the show.

Bush claims Trump wanted an Indian casino in Florida and Bush shut it down. Trump claims it’s not true. You decide … {and the post linked to this … http://www.indianz.com/IndianGaming/2015/09/02/donald-trump-tried-open-casino.asp%5D

Thought #4 (yeah, I know, I forgot to label Thought #3) … why are there no Democrat debates?

Thought #5 … damn, I keep forgetting what this thought is, so I’ll skip ahead to Thought #6 … no amount of beer can help me get through this thing. Oh wait, I remember thought #5 … there are far too many questions that revolve around things Trump has said. He may be the “front-runner” but I’d much rather see a debate involving the issues rather than seeing CNN try to turn this into a firing squad directed at Trump. As much as he offends me.

Thought #7 … given the state of the polls, why is it that the questioners and the candidates all frame their answers assuming that Hillary is the opponent?

Thought #8 … Christie just said “who will prosecute Hillary Clinton?” Isn’t the more appropriate question who will prosecute GWB and his cheerleader-in-chief, Dick Cheney, for the war crimes committed during their reign. My God, where’s the beer????

Thought #9 … Trump wants to be elected President and then he’ll educate himself about the issues?!?!?!?! Sounds good to me. I think I’ll go interview for a new job and tell the interviewer that I’ll educate myself about the position after they hire me.

Thought # 10 … this has been going on for almost two hours now. Isn’t there a time limit on this thing?!?!?!

Thought #11 … it’s raining, it’s pouring. Just thought I’d share that in drought stricken California … IT’s RAINING!!!!!!!!!!

Thought #12 … Jeb! says we shouldn’t have pulled out of Iraq. And now Carson piles on and says that the vacuum caused by our withdrawal created the environment for ISIS to flourish. Here’s the problem with both of them. It was GWB, Jeb!’s brother, who negotiated the agreement to withdraw American forces. And the deadline for that withdrawal could only be extended with an agreement between the U.S. and Iraqi governments. And what Obama insisted on for any extension was immunity for U.S. troops operating in Iraq — a concept I’m sure Republicans would insist on themselves — but the Iraqi government refused to agree to such a term. So, no extension, no U.S. troops. So, who was responsible for that? The President who negotiated the initial agreement? Or the President who asked for reasonable terms and without them decided to abide by the initial agreement.

Thought #13 … which of the candidates do you think follow-up the debate with a little pot-smoking? I’m thinking Carson and Walker are at the top of the list.

Thought #14 … Irene Marks Paxson just said “chocolate enema” to Jacob Paxson and claims that what she really said was “hot chocolate in a mug.”   [OK, that was a distraction going on in the house that took me away from the debate.]

Thought #15 … Irene Marks Paxson says I’m going to blow up Facebook. If I succeed, would any of you object?

Thought #16 … from Talking Points Memo: “9:06 PM: Good lord. Staffers just told me that this debate goes on for three hours.”

So, I’m not the only one.

Thought #17 … oh wait, a question about marijuana legalization. Asked to Paul. Why not ask Carson?????? Now, back to my original thought #17 … Christie claims he was appointed U.S. Attorney on September 10. This is the second debate in which he has made this claim. Only problem is that he wasn’t nominated for the position until December 2001 and didn’t take the position until January 2002. Why do they find it necessary to repeat these lies?

Thought #18 … the odd thing about libertarians like Rand Paul is how much they can sound like Democrats at times. There are far too many times when I hear Paul speak that I find myself agreeing with him.

Thought #19 … Fiorina, her personal story notwithstanding, makes no sense on drugs. The pot kids smoke today isn’t the same as pot people smoked 40 years ago? Really? And if unfortunate deaths caused by drug addiction are a problem, why aren’t we outlawing alcohol?

Thought #20 … Rubio says why have stronger gun laws since the criminals will just ignore them. So, why bother having any laws, because the criminals will just ignore them. That’s kind of what the definition of a criminal is. The reason we have laws is because of what they say about us as a society and as a people. Why have laws against murder and rape and fraud and burglary … the criminals just ignore them.

Thought #21 … Carson on vaccines … they are one of the consequences of big government. Sure. Trump on autism and vaccines … 25 years ago, there wasn’t autism (OK, I’m paraphrasing). Only problem is the biggest reason it wasn’t diagnosed as much back then is that the disorder wasn’t understood and far too many autistic children were misdiagnosed as mentally retarded or suffering from something else.

Thought #22 … ten minutes to go. I can do this.

Oh wait, there’s the post-debate spin where I find out who “won.” I don’t think I’ll be getting any sleep tonight. And, if I … oh wait a sec, the absolute best moment of this debate just occurred and it was a commercial. Against Michael Bloomberg. Who isn’t even an announced candidate for President and, as far as I know, hasn’t shown any interest in running (except that there are some who have suggested he should run to be a counter to Trump). But, we need a commercial during the debate telling us how horrible he would be as a candidate because he wants to take your soft drinks away from you and … drum roll, please … take your guns away from you. Yes, you guessed it, paid for by the National Rifle Association, which apparently has enough money to pay for an opposition ad for somebody who isn’t even running. Wow.

Thought #23 … Jeb! just said his Secret Service nickname should be Everready because it’s high energy. Only problem is I think he was thinking of Energizer … you know the Energizer bunny.

Thought #24 … in response to a question that requires them to compare themselves to Reagan’s legacy, Carson attacks “free phones.” Only problem is that the “free phone” program he attacked was initiated under … Ronald Reagan.

Thought #25 … with few exceptions, foreign policy to the Republican candidates means only one thing … military might, force, weapons, dominance and power. It is one of the fundamental reasons why I will always struggle with voting for the current Republican crop. Diplomacy, negotiation and partnership has achieved far more in this world than the use of force.

* * * * * *

There is so much more I could say, but I’ll leave it at that for now.  After all, there are still almost 14 months left until the election that actually matters.

Why Politicians are Failing Us

Here’s what Mike Huckabee, one of the 83 people running for the Republican nomination for President, has to say about the proposed nuclear deal with Iran.

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

Now, why does that statement fail us?  Because it demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of both the right and left.  Could you imagine what would happen if a Democrat had said that about a Republican.  The right wing blogosphere and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh would have their panties in a bunch — well, more so than they already do.  And because it was a Republican saying it about a Democrat, the left wing will be outraged as well.  And politicians will harumph and point fingers and then they’ll just continue doing what they always do.  Showing an utter lack of respect for each other, demonstrating hypocrisy left and right, and seeking to appeal to the lowest common denominator.  And that’s why politicians are failing us.  Rather than lifting us up with the power of their ideas, they are allowing the worst fears and ideas that circulate power their statements and their campaigns.

I’m really just kind of sick of the whole thing.  On both sides.

I Got Your Politics Right Here

Yeah, this is the kind of thing I’m trying to avoid, but I can’t resist.  There’s this right wing blog I check out regularly.  It’s called PowerLine and is run by several guys.  All of them white.  Most of them attorneys.  All of them almost completely unrepentant rightwingers.  A few days ago, as Stephen Colbert was ending his Colbert Report, they posted something about how Colbert was a Democratic Party operative, just trying to further the propaganda machine of the Democratic Party.  They were offended by this, apparently, while not recognizing that Fox News is a shill for the Republican Party that operates 24/7.

So, today, I look at what they’ve got going on and their most current post starts with this nugget:  “By any reasonable standard, the Obama administration has been a train wreck.”

Of course they don’t explain why they think this.  They never do.  It is just a statement that they repeat over and over and over again and their hoards of like-minded readers reinforce it through some of the most offensive statements I’ve read on the blogosphere lately.  And, then, they typically lead into something that is superficial and irrelevant and, ultimately, not Obama’s fault.  Like this most current post — which relates to a CBS report about how Obama is a “foodie” and is “hipper” than other U.S. Presidents.  Note, that this turns into a criticism of Obama when he had nothing to do with the report.  Yes, the report is ridiculous and stupid, but let’s remember that throughout Bush’s Presidency, there were plenty of stupid and ridiculous stuff reported about his habits … like how he cleared brush at his Texas ranch.

I’m curious, then, exactly how they justify the comment.  I won’t find it in any of their posts, unless I patch them all together and try to put the puzzle together.  To read the blog, Obama has failed at … well, everything.   And if you say it often enough maybe it will become true.  Or not.

Here’s what I’d like to do … if any of you reading this blog are more on the right side of the aisle politically, I invite you to submit a post to me explaining what you believe went wrong with the Obama administration.  I will publish your post here, unedited, and then offer a rebuttal.  I promise you a respectful discussion that weighs the merits of this Administration’s actions.  I don’t expect anybody to take up this offer because it has become apparent to me that the WordPress corner of the blogosphere is pretty liberal, but I’m hoping there is somebody out there who reads this who says, “I’ll give it a try.”  I seriously would like to have a conversation on this with somebody.  Anybody game?  Send me an email at mpaxson55@gmail.com.

I Really Can’t Stand Hillary … Why I May Just Vote for a Republican

I have written before about my dislike of the fact that we have spent the last 26 years in a vortex of Bushes and Clintons being a part of Presidential tickets.  Actually, now that I think about it, it goes back 34 years, because the first Bush was VP under Reagan.  Think about it, seven of the last nine Presidential elections have included either a Bush or a Clinton or both on the ballot.  And, now, with 2016 fast approaching, it looks like Hillary is inevitable and Jeb Bush may just throw his hat in the ring as well.  I’m hoping that Hillary is as inevitable as she turned out to be in 2008.  I am done with the political family dynasties that seem to have developed over the past few decades.  Maybe it says something about us and how we have destroyed our political system, or maybe it says something about those two families and their never-ending quest for power.

Anyway, I want them both gone.  I really can’t stand Hillary and wish there was another reasonable option on the Democrat side.  Hillary has all of the cold, political calculation of her husband, but none of the charisma or political skills that mask that calculation.  If she’s the Democrat nominee, all it would take is a Republican who is willing to depart from the Republican orthodoxy and I would seriously consider voting for a Republican — to keep Hillary away from the Presidency and end the Clinton dynasty.

So, along comes this guy.  I still worry that he’s a bit of a whacko.  He has definitely wandered along the edge of the fringe element of the right wing here in this country.  But there is a lot I like about him.  He has a more isolationist approach to foreign policy that recognizes that we can’t solve the world’s problems and shouldn’t keep trying to do so.  And when it comes to what government can and cannot do, I’m okay with somebody who may shake things up a bit.  I’m a bleeding heart liberal who firmly believes in the value of social programs and interventions, but I also think that there is an inevitability to the  overreach and bloat of government and I wouldn’t mind a bit of a revolution in the way things happen in this country.

That’s one of the reasons I was so excited by the Obama candidacy back in 2008.  He offered an alternative to the status quo, the way that things had happened for decades.  The problem he ran into is that he didn’t have the power to overcome the status quo and the rock solid opposition to his quest for change.

So, fine, let’s roll the dice again.  Because the reality is that our system is fundamentally broken and I’m ready for a revolution in how we govern this country.

And Rand Paul challenges the Republican orthodoxy.  Read the article I linked to.  He challenges law enforcement.  He recognizes that race still plays a huge role in our criminal justice system and in our society.  At the same time that he clearly plans on running for the Republican nomination for President in 2016, Rand Paul is willing to say that law enforcement has gone too far.  Tell me the last time you’ve heard a Republican say that.

I know that a lot will happen in the next two years and that Rand Paul has said some pretty crazy things in the past, but I’m intrigued.

 

Right Wing Populist? Me?

Eric Cantor was the House Majority Leader.  Meaning he was a high muckity-muck in the Republican Party.  Not just that, but he was reliably conservative, reliably on the right-wing side of the Republican Party.  I mean, seriously, he was almost a Tea Party thorn in John Boehner’s side.  Until he wasn’t.  Apparently, his big mistake was expressing some willingness to work with Obama on just one aspect of the immigration problem — granting amnesty to children of illegal immigrants.

Turns out the voters in his Congressional District weren’t too thrilled with that position.  He lost to a Tea Party insurgent by the name of David Brat.  It wasn’t even close.  In a district where Cantor typically won the Republican primary by a landslide, he was beat by almost 10 percentage points by David Brat.

So, you know the pundits are gonna have to analyze this a bit.  One of the things they are saying is that David Brat is a prime example of what may be the rising tide of right wing populism.  See, for example, Ron Fournier.  And Andrew Sullivan, who somewhat endorses Fournier’s view.  What do Fournier and Sullivan agree on?  Fournier concludes that there is a populist tide growing and coalescing around the following ideas:

  • A pullback from the rest of the world, with more of an inward focus.
  • A desire to go after big banks and other large financial institutions.
  • Elimination of corporate welfare.
  • Reducing special deals for the rich.
  • Pushing back on the violation of the public’s privacy by the government and big business.
  • Reducing the size of government.

While Fournier suggests that these are ideas that populists from both the right and left may coalesce around, it is clear that his piece was written in response to the Cantor loss, suggesting that he sees Brat as a potential right-wing populist who may push this kind of agenda.  Sullivan goes even further with the title of his post and with other pieces he has written since Cantor lost to Brat.  Here’s one for example, in which he compares Brat directly to Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky — heroes of the populist left — but individuals I don’t think I could ever support.

So, I look at that list above and think, yes, I agree with every single one of them.  The only one I quibble with is the very last one.  See, I agree that government needs to be reduced in size, but I don’t think it should be so just because it should be so.  Instead, what I think is that there is bloat and waste in government and things government shouldn’t be doing and those things should be eliminated.  Unfortunately, most on the right seem to just want to cut government for the sake of cutting government.

If I agree with that list and David Brat is the incarnation of a right-wing populist, doesn’t that make me a right wing populist?

Maybe not.

Here are some of the things Brat believes:

  • Social security payments to seniors should be slashed by two-thirds.  Yes, let’s go after the banks and the 1%, and eliminate corporate welfare, but, first let’s dramatically cut the safety net program many seniors depend on to survive from day to day.  A safety net program, by the way, which they paid into.
  • Eliminate the IRS.  See, this is where I part ways with my friends on the right.  Again, reduction of government is good.  But eliminating the IRS is bad.  The simple reality is that any organization that collects revenue, particularly one as big as the federal government, needs to have a division, agency, or department dedicated to collecting that revenue.  Now, that said, I would totally support an overhaul and simplification of the tax code.  But there is and always will be a need for an IRS.
  • He wants to dramatically cut education funding because, in his words, “My hero Socrates trained in Plato on a rock. How much did that cost?”  Well, that’s just grand — let’s all go back to the days of the Greek philosophers.  Sorry, but, well, you’re really starting to lose me here.  And, again, what does this have to do with the core set of ideas that populists are coalescing around?

I’m sure there are more positions like this, but my point is, as long as a right-wing “populist” goes down this path, they aren’t actually a populist anymore.  These ideas have absolutely nothing to do with the core ideas of a populist and more to do with the anti-anything-related-to-government philosophy of the Tea Party.  They aren’t actually interested in protecting the interests and rights of the little guy.  They’re just fear mongerers.

But, wait, there’s more…

  • He believes that it was weak Christians who allowed Hitler to rise and that if we don’t participate in and engage in Christian Capitalism, whatever the heck that is, it could happen again.

For these reasons and many more, as much as those original ideas appeal to me, I could never, ever be a right-wing populist.

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