It’s really time to get back to the roots of this blog, because the crap in today’s discourse is so thick, it’s hard to imagine cutting it with a chain saw. It’s not just coming from the “candidates,” either; the media itself is complicit in perpetuating complete crap every chance they get. CNN and all television news organizations save one are beholden to the dollar first and the truth second, which is the antithesis of what makes a good news organization. The one exception is Al Jazeera America, which stupidly paid too much to buy a channel that was stuck in standard definition and had carriage agreements that kept it in nosebleed territory on your cable dial. They thought they could attract eyes by actually reporting the news. Unfortunately, they were wrong; in order to gain viewership, people have to happen upon you by accident and be shocked that someone is actually reporting news somewhere on cable.
Anyway, more about that in another column. CNN is so starved for ratings that they decided to stretch this clown show to five hours; three hours for the main event and two hours for the kiddie circus. My guess is, they probably got a substantial audience (meaning about half the Fox audience of 24 million) for the first hour of the big clown’s show, but it steadily fell off for the rest of the time, as people got tired of hearing the same bullshit they’ve been hearing from the Republican Party for 40 years; ever since Saint Ronald of Reagan came within a hair’s breadth of beating President Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976, which Ford lost by a hair, primarily because progressives refused to get fully behind Jimmy Carter because, you know, he talked about Jesus in the best way and tried not to lie to us.
Seriously, it’s the same shit. I mean, did anyone say anything we haven’t been hearing for 40 years last night?
“Abortion is bad, and I’m more anti-abortion than you, cuz God.”
“Planned Parenthood does abortions, so we’re going to ignore all the abortions the group prevents and cut off funding, cuz God.”
“I funneled more tax money to churches than anyone else here, cuz God.”
“I love guns and an more irresponsible about them than you, cuz God.”
“We need to get rid of all the ‘illegal immigrants,” cuz God.”
“We’re going to eliminate all taxes and encourage tithing, cuz God.”
Seriously, except for a few things equating running a business with running the government, which should disqualify anyone from even running for president, that pretty much sums up what little “substance” there was in last night’s clown show. Seriously, can we stop calling these debates? Answering questions with bullshit and having someone else spout more bullshit in rebuttal is not a “debate.” When I was in high school, I actually sponsored and ran a debate between Congressional candidates at our school and when one of them would stray off the reservation a bit, the moderators were instructed to pull them back in. There was none of that last night, really. Everyone was fishing for something sensational they could use as a sound bite and no useful information was dispensed.
Again, it was a clown show, not a debate. Still, I need to cut some of the most profound crap that came out of this exercise, because that’s what I do.
Trump: “Illegal immigration is costing us more than $200 billion dollars a year just to maintain what we have.”
This one is complete crap for many reasons. First of all, there are no actual official statistics kept, since we have no way to know exactly how many undocumented immigrants there are. You know, because they’re undocumented; they avoid everyone, for fear of being found out and sent back. There have been a few estimates made, but even the extremely anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) (yes, that’s right; a right wing anti-immigrant group with a euphemistic name; how odd, right?) pegs the cost at $113 billion, which is about half Trump’s estimate, and they only accumulate the costs and not the benefits.
Yes, there are benefits, folks, and I don’t just mean cheaper produce. While a few migrant workers work under the table, the vast majority of undocumented workers are hidden in plain sight, which means they are on payrolls, making reported wages and paying taxes, even though they can’t collect any welfare benefits as long as they’re here illegally. Do some do it, anyway? I’m sure some do, but the vast majority do not, again, because they live with the constant fear of getting caught. The way Republicans portray things is the equivalent of a criminal robbing a bank and then doing an Icky Shuffle outside the bank to celebrate pulling it off. In other words, not likely.
By the way, among those 11 million undocumented immigrants are hundreds of thousands who work in the medical and tech fields and make more money and pay a lot more in taxes than most of the Republicans who are complaining. According to some estimates, they provide between $80-100 billion in economic benefit, making their net cost maybe $10-20 billion, and only if you take that FAIR number as gospel, and I don’t see how you can. I do wish someone would figure it out, but how do you do that without giving them amnesty and take the fear out of reporting data? They won’t even talk to census takers.
Trump: “And by the way, Mexico and almost every other country anywhere in the world doesn’t have that [birthright citizenship]. We’re the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough to have it.”
Yeah, Trump does sling the crap, doesn’t he? This one is a load of crap, since at least 30 countries do the same thing, including Mexico, which grants “automatic nationality” to anyone born in Mexico and they become citizens automatically when they turn 18, if they’re still in Mexico by then. And like our “birthright citizenship,” Mexico’s is embedded in their Constitution.
Carson: “Now, what we need to do is look at something that actually works. Yuma County, Arizona … (stops) 97 percent of the illegal immigrants through there. They put in a double fence with a road so that there was quick access by the enforcement people. If we don’t seal the border, the rest of this stuff … clearly doesn’t matter. It’s kind of ridiculous all the other things we talk about. We have the ability to do it, we don’t have the will to do it.”
Okay, this is only partial crap. There is a some double-layer fencing on the border in Yuma County, Arizona, but there is noo evidence thatthe severe increase in apprehensions had little to do with the fence. The time period stretches over 13 years, from 2000-2013, and yes, the number of apprehensions evenually reached 95 percent of crossing attempts. However, what Carson fails to mention is that the Yuma Sector tripled its number of border agents in that time AND (and this is important), the number of attempted crossing dropped significantly, because jobs dried up because of the Bush Recession, as well as the presence of drug cartels and the associated violence.
In other words, the wall had little to do with it.
Cruz: “There are several facilities in Iran they designate as military facilities that are off limit all together. Beyond that, the other facilities, we give them [Iran] 24 days notice before inspecting them. That is designed to allow them to hide the evidence. And most astonishingly, this agreement trusts the Iranians to inspect themselves.”
This one is frustrating, because Ted Cruz keeps repeating this crap, and no one in the press calls him on it when he says it, only later, when some third-rate blog like this one call it out as garbage. First of all, under the Iran Deal, all nuclear facilities – and that means every single one, without exception – will be under continuous monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, and the access would be given immediately. In addition to the facilities themselves, the IAEA inspectors would also have access to any facilities producing and/or storing centrifuges, as well as access to every step of the procurement chain, including uranium mining. The FACT of the matter is, these measures are even stronger than the measures in the nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iraq and, as you’ll recall, after we invaded, ostensibly because Iraq had nukes, we found out they had nothing, meaning the sanctions and the agreement worked, even against Saddam Hussein.
That’s all for declared sites. When it comes to undeclared sites, the IAEA inspectors can demand immediate access, and Iran can technically refuse, but the agreement sets up a process for resolving any dispute. Oh, yeah; and the 24 days is not “notice,” it’s the maximum amount of time Iran can stall. It is not a minimum, it’s a maximum. And that is not enough time to get away with much of anything. Think about it; the IAEA is monitoring the entire supply chain for fuel and centrifuges; how much fissile material and other equipment does Cruz imagine the Iranians can sneak out of the chain?
Also, according to the actual agreement, there are no “self-inspections,” so there’s that, too. There is a side agreement between Iran and the IAEA outside of the main agreement, but there is no “self-inspection protocol, it’s all dun under the auspices of IAEA.
There was a LOT of crap about Planned Parenthood thrown out there last night, like the following:
Christie – “As the brand new first ever pro-life governor of New Jersey since Roe versus Wade, I defunded Planned Parenthood.”
First of all, at the time he vetoed a bill to fund Planned Parenthood, Christie claimed his motives were to balance the budget, and had nothing to do with his anti-choice status. (Another term we have to retire; these people are NOT “pro-life” in any way, shape or form.) His veto statement even expressed his regret, saying that he had to cut “many worthwhile programs,” which is a strange thing to say if you vetoed it for “moral” reasons.
In fact, the funding bill, earmarked a grand total of $7.5 million (that’s with an “m”) for all family planning activities in the state, not just Planned Parenthood, claiming the funding was “duplicative,” which would assume that there was already money set to go to Planned Parenthood, or at least, he believed so. By the way, he repeated this during his 2014 reelection campaign, in part because New Jersey is largely a pro-choice state.
Just as an aside, Christie also repeated the lie that George W. Bush nominated him as US Attorney on September 10, 2001. He was not nominated until December and he took the office in January 2002.
Fiorina: “As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
Well, any of us who have seen these videos know this is bullshit. The videos featured out-of-context snippets of conversations, interspersed with select provocative video of abortions, but nothing like this ever appears in any of them. There is a description of that process in one video, which is not something I’d want to experience while eating, but really, does anyone actually think abortion is a pretty process? That’s why we pro-choice folks want them to be legal, safe and rare. If only we could get these phony “pro-fetus” advocates to help us create a system where an abortion is even rarer, but they keep on cutting programs to make having a child more viable.
Walker: “The facts are the facts. We balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit. We did it by cutting taxes $4.7 billion.”
His version of “facts” are not facts at all. What he fails to mention is that Wisconsin legally requires a balanced budget, which means he came into office with a balanced budget; the deficit he talks about was actually the difference between what agencies requested and what tax revenues would bring in, and the people who keep track of that say the number was more like $2 billion. He also lies about his tax cuts, which are nowhere near $4.7 billion; more like $2 billion. And a lot of state agencies have had to cut back on services.
Finally, I only want to touch on the kerfuffle between Trump and Fiorina.
Yes, Donald, you DID declare bankruptcy, and you did so four times. You can make the distinction between you and your companies if you’d like, but the fact is, you lost a lot of money, personally, and so did your shareholders, not to mention creditors, when most of your casino debts were wiped out.
And Carly, dear, when you claim you “doubled the size of the company… quadrupled its topline growth rate … quadrupled its cash flow, (and)… tripled its rate of innovation,” you are citing garbage. First of all, the size of the company grew because you purchased Compaq, which was by all accounts a dubious move during the tech bubble debacle, and you’re lying when you claim your growth rate quadrupled; revenue growth was seven percent when she took over and three percent when she was kicked out. As for innovation, you should first ask, how does anyone count “innovation” in hard numbers? Well, she’s counting patents, but even then, she’s lying, because the rate of new patents was nowhere near triple.
That was a lot of crap, huh? Three hours with Republicans trying to out-stupid their rivals will do that. There was even more at the kiddie table clown show, like Santorum, who is part of that GOP cult who is only pro-Israel because they believe it will hasten the end times, complaining because some Muslims believe we’re in the end times. Gee, fanatical religious people want more political power? Who could ever imagine that?
Wait, do you still get fun stuff when you Google “Santorum”? Ah… it doesn’t matter. The only way the next president will be a Republican will be if far left “progressives” put one there… and we won’t allow that this time… right??