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clown car

Republican candidates attempting to get on to the debate stage

Let’s start with the schadenfreude just for a laugh. Or to show we know one word of German, whichever. The best part of the New Hampshire primary was watching Marco Rubio finish fifth after giving the most exuberant victory speech maybe ever, despite finishing third. He sounded like he was celebrating actually winning the presidency, not finishing third in one state. The first state, but just one state. From the dribbles of rumor from the Senate to the public, apparently he is spared the disdain of his Republican colleagues only by the noxious presence of Ted Cruz. Avoid Rubio and you might have to talk to Cruz, so…
Yet there’s another contender in the race for the “You’re celebrating THAT?” award. John Kasich, delighted at finishing a distant second to an insult comic, saying, “Maybe, just maybe, we are turning the page on a dark part of American politics because tonight, the light overcame the darkness of negative campaigns.” The “light” got 15% and the — well, I infer Kasich’s opponents are the “darkness” — got 85%. This is apparently a use of the word “overcame” I was previously unfamiliar with.
A phrase I hope goes away when the election is over is “the establishment”. What is the establishment? Does it give out membership cards? It seems the halls of power in DC are crawling with people bragging of how they defy the establishment and the establishment hates them. I would have guessed that when you’re a congressman or a governor or a billionaire or some such, you are the frikkin’ establishment. I’d like to dump “the establishment” into the trash bin of meaningless old buzzwords, but I’ll settle for an unwritten rule that no one says “the establishment” without saying who the hell they’re talking about.


clown car

Candidate limousine pulls in for tonight’s GOP debate

I’ll be live-blogging the GOP debate tonight. It will be broadcast and webcast on Fox News, and I’ll be watching with you, or listening more likely since I’ll be looking at the form where I write this. I’m not sure if just listening or also watching makes a difference. There was a story from the debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy during the 1960 campaign that people who watched on TV thought Kennedy won, but the radio audience thought Nixon won. It sounds like one of those stories that gets passed along as conventional wisdom, but now I’m wondering if the was Nixon campaign spin after he lost, trying to make it sound like if you thought Kennedy won, you’re a shallow person moved by a handsome face with better makeup, and what’s that say about you? Anyway, maybe I’ll have a different take from listening instead of watching.
If you’re new to this live blogging stuff, it’s a bit like live tweeting except you don’t have to keep hunting through Twitter and I can comment in over 140 characters. Just reload this page once in a while to get the latest pithy comment from me. But do your own fact-checking because I’ll mention when I catch a factual error, or think something is just being made up, but I won’t have time to research and link.
The debate starts at 8 central time. Click the “read more” link to, try not to be surprised, read more.


clown carThe next GOP presidential debate starts tonight at 8PM central time. Yes, once again I’m skipping the “undercard” debate because it just doesn’t matter. This debate is on Fox Business, which will be the first time that channel has been watched by pretty much anyone. Fox Business: because the Wall Street shills on CNBC just aren’t conservative enough! So I’ll be simultaneously noting what the candidates say, doing some instant fact checking (no time for linking, so your own fact checking of my fact checking is advised), and maybe even providing some instant yet clever commentary.
So click the “read more” link if you’re reading this on the home page, and hit your browser reload button once in a while. Feel free to comment, but do understand that I may not have time to get it posted right away. Please excuse me if I miss something visual, because my eyes are on the editing page, which means essentially the debate is radio for me.


clown carWhen Bernie Sanders was asked about the bizarre things Ben Carson said in the past, he said it wasn’t fair to hold candidates accountable for what they said decades ago. I would agree with him if he were speaking just generally. We shouldn’t be held accountable for something we said decades ago as if we were prevaricating flip-floppers just because we now say something different. We change our minds on some things over time, and would we want a candidate incapable of that? Likewise, we all make factual errors. Possibly we all not only make factual errors, but at some point believe something nuts, which is embarrassing once we figure it out. We all have some time when we behaved badly, and our worst moment back whenever shouldn’t define us.
So looking at Carson’s claim that the Egyptian pyramids were built by Joseph as granaries, if that’s all it was, a factual error, a belief he no longer holds, a bad moment that happened to get recorded on video, then Bernie would be right. We should, were that the case, just move on to current issues and forget a speech 17 years ago — but that’s not what happened. It could have been what happened, if Carson, asked about it now, had said something like he wasn’t an egyptologist but should have known better as an educated person, or now he knows better and is a bit embarrassed about it. However, he said he still believes it. That’s different. That changes it from something he said 17 years ago to something he says now. Thus why I disagree with Bernie. This is completely fair game in terms of judging Carson as a prospective president.
What does one crazy belief have to do with being president? Nothing, were it only one isolated weird belief, one mistake that wasn’t repeated. However, it’s part of a pattern that has persisted right up until now. Carson says a lot of weird stuff, now, not only in decades past. What he’s said about Obamacare being worse than slavery, Jews being able to fend off the Nazis if only they’d had more guns, and prison inmates turning gay after being raped all happened recently. That first instance might be mere hyperboly, the second is a common belief on the gun nut right despite its easy debunking, and the third is maybe just unskeptical ignorance, but how to explain away the pyramids claim? And also throwing in the opinion that scientists can be ignored on what the pyramids were built for because some believe aliens built them? Either he’s thinking of the archaeologist character in “Stargate” under the misapprehension it was a documentary, or he keeps giving the impression he disconnected from reality.


clown carThere was an odd moment during the last Republican debate. Just one? Well, this one was mostly missed, though it jumped out to me. John Kasich said, “I was on Morning Joe at a town hall, and a young student stood up and said, ‘Can I still be idealistic?'” It was odd because, first, does any real person talk like that? Maybe so, but the second oddity is Kasich trying to appeal to young voters, because that hasn’t exactly been his strength lately.
During a recent town hall at the University of Richmond, Kasich had students behind him where they could appear on camera, but getting him to take a student’s question was evidently a lower priority. When finally he called on a student, before she could ask her question, he decided to anticipate her question by saying “I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets.” Sure, because what else might a young adult be interested in? No need to take my word for it that she felt patronized. Take hers.

The older members of the audience chuckled as my friends’ jaws dropped to the floor. It was astonishingly clear that Gov. Kasich did not come to Richmond for my vote.

While the lectures were condescending, the real issue was that Kasich chose not to listen to students in his forum. Most of the questions came from older members of the community, many vocalizing their support of Kasich before throwing him a softball question. Kasich barreled through a Planned Parenthood question, dismissing the young woman who posed it, and derided me when I had the audacity to raise my hand. Kasich came to Richmond to pander to retired Republicans. He could gain points by belittling me and my peers, so that’s what he did.
What continues to strike me is the hypocrisy of his condescension. He touted his ambitious energy as an 18-year-old man, but as soon as I, an 18-year-old woman, exhibited ambition, I became the target of his joke. The same passion that drove Kasich to speak with President Nixon drove me to ask the candidate a question I care deeply about.

This is the candidate touting that a student asked him a question about idealism? The reason Kasich would say that in the debate is obvious. He’s trying to signal to Republicans that he can address their problem with younger voters because they respond to him. Well, looks like “respond” can be negative as well as positive.


clown carI’ll be live blogging tonight’s presidential debate, so refresh the page and look at the bottom for the most recent updates. If you’re seeing this on the home page, click the “read more” link. I’ll fact check to the degree I can on the spot, but that will mean from memory so your own check of my check is advised. Or just follow along for the instant snark. All I guarantee is not knowing what they’ll say means I don’t already know what I’ll say, so it will be truly instant. Side note: “snark” was not recognized by the spell checker. Stupid Republican spell checker!
The debate starts at 7. No, I’m not watching the “undercard” debate. None of those candidates have a chance to win. There is one update to which GOP candidates are worth our attention, besides the ones who dropped out. I created buckets and dropped Bobby Jindal into the bucket of candidates who won’t win, but are worth attention because they’re either in office or likely to run again. I’ve since learned just how toxic Jindal has become in Louisiana, down to “Chris Christie in New Jersey” levels. I put Christie in the bucket of candidates to be ignored, and his term still has two years left, so I can’t justify giving time to Jindal who is done in two months. The only “undercard” candidate to watch is Lindsey Graham, and that’s purely because he has five more years in his Senate term and he’s likely to run again. We can always hope a strong challenger appears next time. Why, South Carolina, why? Of course, that last link begs the same question of CNN.
About to start. By the way, the state DFL will be live tweeting at and the hashtag #MNDFL



clown carSen. Lindsey Graham is considered one of the more rational Republicans, which is either really wrong or a really low standard. He still thinks he’s a serious presidential candidate, which should put the whole “rational” characterization in doubt. But he’s still a US senator, so someone with a long time in Congress already and most of his current term still ahead of him is tweeting this stuff:

I guess Graham is dressing as Janus for Halloween, since his other face talked about what a nice person Joe Biden is after Biden’s son Beau died earlier this year.
And his Senate colleague Bernie Sanders caught it twice:

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clown carJohn Kasich said something odd during a recent appearance on Face the Nation, and I’m not just referring to “And when I left Washington, we had a $5 trillion surplus.” I’m referring to this:

But what I have found, as you know, I’m now — my campaign has gone on for slightly more than just two months, John, and you know I’m in the top tier in New Hampshire, I’m beginning to rise in Iowa. So if it — if what I’m saying is not true, then I should be — I should be getting out of the race, which I am not because I think we’re making really good progress and connecting.

What question must he have been responding to? Why he’s staying in the race when he’s doing so poorly? No, he was asked about a “climate” where experienced governors are getting nowhere in the GOP primary polls. He responded by justifying staying in the race. It seems that was the question he was expecting. Why would you be preparing that answer if you’re not having to convince the voters in the donor primary that you’re still a viable candidate?
Actually, I expect Rand Paul to be the next to drop out following news that a supporting superPAC has decided his campaign is a lost cause, but maybe Kasich won’t be far behind — especially given that his claims abut the polls are pretty much just happy talk. He’s sure stuck down in the milieu in the national polling, though he referred specifically to “beginning to rise Iowa” and being “in the top tier in New Hampshire”. That’s a pretty generous definition of “top tier”, and apparently he thinks “rise” doesn’t include any upward motion from a low point.
Friday’s Pew Poll even has Kasich below the soon-to-depart Paul, down in positively Walkerian levels of barely registering.
The thing that annoys me is hearing liberals saying Kasich seems like the reasonable one. Is there some requirement to pick out a less-clownish clown from the passengers of the clown car? Yes, it’s true he’s given conservatives some reason to dislike him, like when he kept saying in the second debate that foreign policy problems need to include working with allies, and he’s one of the few Republican governors who accepted the Medicaid expansion to cover the people who fell in the hole between Medicaid eligibility and eligibility for private plan subsidies. He even cited the bible in defense of a liberal belief. Wrong party for that.
However, something to bring to the attention if anyone saying he’s not so bad, when Kasich was in the US House, he wrote the law restricting food stamp eligibility for childless adults to just three months in any three year period. This was too harsh even for some of his fellow Republicans, so states were allowed to seek waivers if unemployment was high enough. As governor, Kasich accepted the waiver — for some poor Ohioans. He sought waivers of overwhelmingly white rural counties, but excluded counties with large minority populations.

In 2014, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) had the option to waive time limits on food stamps for the entire state. Due to a struggling economy and high unemployment, Ohio had qualified for and accepted this statewide waiver from the US Department of Agriculture every year since 2007, including during most of Kasich’s first term as governor. But this time, Kasich rejected the waiver for the next two years in most of the state’s 88 counties. His administration did accept them for 16 counties in 2014 and for 17 counties in 2015. Most of these were rural counties with small and predominantly white populations. Urban counties and cities, most of which had high minority populations, did not get waivers.

When you have to temper compassion with fiscal austerity, you recognize you can’t help everybody, so … just help the white rural areas. “So if it — if what I’m saying is not true, then I should be — I should be getting out of the race … ” I have a feeling the donors might soon agree.
Comment below fold.


clowncarScott Walker might be gone from the presidential campaign, but don’t be fooled. He’s still highly relevant. He’s relevant because he … um, you know … he still has that … who am I kidding. Fine, I just despise the mean-spirited little git and his departure leaves me with some urgent cackling to do. Was he really worse than any of the other Republicans? Maybe it was personal. I disclosed in a prior post I wrote about him, This guy wants to be president: I hardly recognize Wisconsin, that Wisconsin is a former home state and yes, I left before Walker ever entered public life, but I’m still painfully aware of the before and after picture. It would be ridiculous to blame Walker alone for what happened to the place, with the chronic corruption, politically biased courts, withering attacks on the rights of workers, women, and non-white voters, and the economic deterioration. It’s not all on Walker of course, but as I pointed out, Walker was at least an early adopter of an ALEC model bill type of agenda. So absolutely I enjoyed this bit of irony:
Scott Walker screenshot with banner ad photo walkerscreenshot_zpsivnpxkl8.jpg
Click to enlarge this screenshot of an article about Walker’s withdrawal and notice the banner ad. I assume the ad was context sensitive and not random, but still, delightfully ironic. And yeah, I clicked the ad in hopes his campaign is paying by the click-through.


Liveblogging, or is it “live blogging”, means that I’ll be listening to the debate and commenting as it goes along. I did this for the first debate, and I assume this time too, the candidates’ time to give answers was short and the pace was fast, at least for someone trying to simultaneously listen, think, write, and update. But I’ll do my best. If it seems I missed something important, that’s probably why. Though my judgment might differ from yours on what was worth a comment. If we disagree, just remember — I’m right. Ugh, Trump’s influence has reached me!


Anyway, refresh the page and scroll to the bottom for the latest. I’ll be live blogging just the prime-time debate because the candidates in the first debate aren’t worth the time. Some candidates are worth following, and some aren’t, including some in the prime time debate. Click here for how I reached those conclusions. The only changes are Rick Perry has actually dropped out, and I’m close to adding Bobby Jindal to the not-worth-our-time list. The debate starts at 7PM central.

And the clown car ignition is turned. Here they are, the mainstream media’s notion of a “deep bench”. One of them will get the nomination, just think of that. Sorry about the loading errors. I’ve reached out to our admins.