debate

Cutting the Crap in the Debate Finale

Last night was the final debate in what has to be the most absurd and bizarre presidential election season in our history and, in many ways, it was very telling. In one respect, it was the best of the three. as much as it pains me to say, Chris Wallace did almost the best job of moderating, in that he was able to keep Trump from going too far off the rails. Of course, some of the questions he asked were ridiculous and one of the last ones was based on a traditional right-wing lie, which we’ll get to.

Therefore, as a public service, it’s time to cut the crap on the biggest lies in last night’s debate. I’d cover all of them, but remember, we’re talking about Donald Trump. Trump knows little to nothing about anything, so most of what he says is manufactured BS; to cover every lie would require a book-length piece. Besides, I’ve covered many of them before. You know, like the garbage he said about the Clinton Foundation, which is one of the cleanest and most transparent charities in the world. Saying anything bad about it requires actual proof from her on, because there is no evidence of anything nefarious, except in the vivid imaginations of some.

Being a Fox News host, we all should have known that Chris Wallace would do the bidding of his handlers and start with the Second Amendment and “abortion.” And his started on a couple of false premises. That Hillary Clinton would dismantle the Second Amendment and that she would also allow women to have abortions up until the day before birth. For example, on the Second Amendment, Wallace asked:

Secretary Clinton, you said last year — and let me quote, the Supreme Court is wrong on the second amendment. And now in fact, in the 2008 Heller case, the court ruled that there is a constitutional right to bear arms but a right that is reasonably limited. Those were the words of the judge Antonin Scalia who wrote the decision. What’s wrong with that?

The Heller case was actually quite long and the characterization of it as simply as Wallace declared is really silly. But Clinton also did not say that as simply as Wallace contends. As has been pointed out repeatedly, Hillary Clinton, like most of us, has little problem with the notion of the average person having a gun in their home for protection. The problem is with the complete lack of common sense gun laws that prevent people who shouldn’t have guns from getting one. And the Heller decision was wrong on several counts. For example, Scalia, who wrote the opinion, didn’t just object to the broad gun ban that DC instituted with the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which essentially banned all unregistered guns from the District, he also objected to the part of the provision that required guns in the home to be “unloaded, disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.” The real “problem” with the law was that it was far too broad and that the District banned unregistered guns at the same time they basically refused to allow registration of guns. In other words, Scalia had a point on the effective ban, but his view of “reasonable regulation” was objectionable. Which is what Hillary Clinton has said many times. (Source) And she repeated that last night.

Trump, on the other hand, brought up the spectre of Chicago, and its current problem with gun murders:

Well, let me just tell you before we go any further in Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States, probably you could say by far, they have more gun violence than any other city. So we have the toughest laws and you have tremendous gun violence.

This is a Republican right wing chestnut. This is straight out of right wing talk radio and it’s always been pure crap. Yes, Chicago’s gun murder rate is too high. However, the guns used in Chicago crime come from places outside Chicago, like suburban Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, where gun laws are really lax. (Source)

On the “abortion” question, Trump proved once again why “Christians” who plan to vote for him should worry mightily. In the debate last night, he said:

Wallace: Mr. Trump you are pro-life. I would ask you specifically, do you want the court, including the justices that you will name, to overturn Roe v. Wade which includes, in fact states, a woman’s right to abortion.

Trump: Well, if that would happen because I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that that will go back to the individual states.

There is just one problem. Up until he decided to run for president, Trump’s public statements revealed him to be strongly pro-choice.

Is he lying? Who knows? But if he’s putting people on the Supreme Court, who could affect the court for a generation, I would think both sides would have to be concerned. It should also concern people that he doesn’t understand basic anatomy or the realities of the issue. Trump actually said this:

Because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb on the ninth month on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.

Okay, on the last day of the ninth month, it’s called BIRTH, not abortion. There is no ethical doctor in the world who would perform an abortion anytime in the third trimester without it being medically necessary. But in the last few days? It’s called a birth; no doctor not named Mengele would kill a viable baby several days before it was due to be born normally. This is how you know this is a guy who has no convictions on the subject at all. Frankly, the “Christian” right has a valid reason to be worried. Less than three weeks before the election, and this guy has no understanding of the issue at all, not just from the “Christian” standpoint, but from a biological standpoint.

Chris Wallace then turned to immigration, and started that discussion with a lie of his own:

Wallace: Mr. Trump, you want to build a wall. Secretary Clinton, you have offered no specific plan on how you want to secure our southern border.

Actually, she has quite a comprehensive plan. If he had bothered to look, he would have found it. (Source) In short, Hillary Clinton plans to secure the border without treating the humans who come here for a better life like criminals, which most are not.

The immigration portion of the debate continued for a while, with Trump reiterating that he plans to get rid of every undocumented immigrant immediately, which is virtually impossible because, well, they’re undocumented. You can’t round up and deport what you can’t see. That’s why comprehensive immigration reform is so necessary; it’s the only way we can identify them.

Somehow, though, the discussion got to NAFTA because Trump was trying to deflect from the fact that he wussed out on demanding that Mexico build his beloved wall. Trump said:

The NAFTA deal signed by her husband is one of the worst deals ever made of any kind of signed by anybody. It’s a disaster.

It must be hard to be a unicorn progressive right now because, every once in a while, Trump says something stupid that they agree with. This is one of those times. First of all, Bill Clinton did NOT sign NAFTA. It was negotiated and signed by Bush 41. Congress ratified it. Clinton simply signed the bill Congress passed ratifying it. So, let’s dispense with blaming Bill Clinton for NAFTA. Not that he was against it, but he wasn’t responsible for it unless you believe that he could have used his superpowers to go back in time and prevent President Bush from signing it. As for its being “a disaster,” its net effect on the economy was minimal. No, it did not cost “millions of jobs;” the net loss of jobs was about 700,000 over 20 years. (Source) Given that Clinton and Obama have created roughly 40 million jobs between them, apparently in spite of NAFTA, it’s hard to claim it’s been a “disaster.”

By the way, was there anything more poignant last night than hearing Trump complain about the number of deportations under Obama?

President Obama has moved millions of people out. Nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it, but under Obama, millions of people have been moved out of this country they’ve been deported she does want to say that but that’s what happened. And that’s what’s happened big-league.

“Big league?” Why does it so often feel as if Trump is a middle schooler trying to explain how he didn’t really break the window with the baseball, but a man driving by in a car did it? Yes, at the beginning of his term, President Obama set records for numbers of deportations, although that’s leveled off somewhat in recent years, in part because fewer undocumented immigrants are coming here in the first place. Why, you ask? Because he deported so many early on. (Derp) However, hearing Trump complain about that is interesting because his constantly-evolving policy is now almost exactly the same as the Obama policy he’s complaining about. (Source)

Who could NOT love the following exchange, as the discussion turned to Trump’s bromance with Vlad Putin:

Trump: Look, Putin, from everything I see has no respect for this person.

Clinton: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States and it’s pretty clear.

Trump: No puppet. You’re the puppet.

No shit. He actually employed the Pee Wee Herman strategy of “I know you are, but what am I?” I keep saying Trump looks like he’s in middle school, but I may be giving him too much credit.

The largest stretch of the “debate” was basically a rehash, so I want to skip toward the end, where I need to once again correct something Chris Wallace said:

One last area I want to get in with you on this debate is the fact that the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements, which is sixty percent of all federal spending. Now, the Committee for Federal — Responsible Federal Budget has looked at both of your plans and they say neither of you have a serious plan that is going to solve the fact that Medicare is going to run out of money in the 2020s, Social Security is going to run out of money in the 2030s and at that time recipients are going to take huge cuts in their benefits so in effect the final question I want to ask you in this regard is — and let me start with you, Mr. Trump — would President Trump make a deal to save Medicare and Social Security that included both tax increases and benefit cuts – in effect, a grand bargain on entitlements?

This is Republican orthodoxy, but I want to point out the contradictions in that question. First of all, he claims that “the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements,” which is completely untrue. In fact, he contradicts that himself when he claims that Social Security and Medicare aren’t due to even run out of money for 10-20 years. How can “entitlements” be driving the debt if they haven’t even run out of money yet. See, Social Security and Medicare are PAID FOR with specific taxes, which go into a specific fund. If the Republicans in Congress weren’t constantly borrowing from those trust funds, the debt would even be bigger.

The fact is, while the overall national debt is $20 trillion, Social Security and Medicare are OWED money, they are not borrowing it.

For the final fact check, I’d like to talk about this from Trump:

And one thing we have to do, repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. It’s destroying our country, it’s destroying our businesses. Our small business and our big businesses — we have to repeal and replace Obamacare. You take a look at the kind of numbers that that will cost us in the year seventeen, it is a disaster, if we don’t repeal and replace — now it’s probably going to die of its own weight. But Obamacare has to go. Its — premiums are going up 60, 70, 80 percent.

It’s hard to know where to start with that mess. First of all, the Affordable Care Act has added 20 million to the rolls of the insured. What that means is, more medical bills are being paid than ever before. Businesses have been seeing record profits since the ACA was passed. Unemployment is 5 percent, which indicates that businesses are hiring, so it’s hard to see where businesses have been “destroyed.” But his estimates on premiums? It might be why he’s sniffing.

Premiums have gone up and the increases have been in the double digits over the last few years, but that was expected. Think about it; insurance companies have to cover anyone who applies, there are no plan limits and doctors are paid based on outcomes; of course premiums were going to go up at first. However, with more people being able to go to the doctor and insurance companies paying all of the bills, that will be short-lived. And let’s be clear: NO ONE’S plan is going up “60, 70, 80 percent.” First of all, according to one major study of premium increases for “the year seventeen” (translation: 2017), the largest overall increase in the country is a 25 percent increase in the cost of Silver plans in Tennessee. There are a handful of other states that are seeing increases in Silver plans in the low double-digits, but no one is close to “60, 70, 80 percent.” (Source) I would also point out that these are preliminary findings and increases haven’t all been set yet, so even the 25 percent in Tennessee may be high. It’s also possible that Tennessee insurance companies may be issuing massive rebates at the end of 2017.

To underscoreTrump’s lack of understanding of this issue, most of the families who sign up for a Silver plan on the exchanges won’t see an increase of more than a few dollars a month, even in Tennessee, because of the subsidies provided under the ACA.

Thank goodness this is the last debate. I don’t think I could take another. However, I want to close with the following statement:

If you can look at this election and vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton, you have to be one of the dumbest people on the planet. It is clear that she is more than qualified and Trump, Johnson and Stein are most definitely not.

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