Friday, September 18, 2015

The Republican (Right) Field, Round 2

To go with the mixed metaphor of my title (baseball vs. boxing), today's blog post presents in short "chapters" some of my response to the second Republican debate, which I endured for almost two and a half hours on Wednesday. 


I almost felt sorry for the poor guys and gal--they had to stand there for 3 hours and think about the fact that they would have to somehow distinguish themselves from the other 10 wingnuts on stage with them in little 1 or 2 minute chunks every 10-15 minutes. I'm surprised no one came out from behind the lectern and started doing cartwheels, dancing a jig, or juggling watermelons to get attention. 

Mostly they had to hope someone would mention their name, because if their name was mentioned they got automatic response time (imaginary pre-debate confession cam, with Christie: "Kasich and me gotta deal goin' you see--every time one of us gets a chance to talk we'll take a softball poke at the other one, that way we'll get to go back and forth all night and block the others out!").

And they actually got into policy, which shut Trump up, because the fact is, and he acknowledged it, he doesn't know much. I'll hire experts who know this stuff is basically what he said...that inspires confidence. Rand Paul and John Kasich tried to inject some reasonable ideas like not trying to police the whole world and working with allies instead of going it alone...but they were all alone up there. Ben Carson...what is the great attraction to him? I still think that may be about Republicans wanting to win the black vote ("Look at how many African Americans came out to vote for Obama! They'll vote for their own"). Rubio and Bush are supposed to have potential to pull in the Hispanic vote, but it seems like Trump has forced Republicans to write off that block of voters...and by the way, ship them out on Day 1!

Other things that will happen on Day 1: End Obamacare, Tear up the Iran Agreement, and, though none of them said it, probably indict President Obama for impersonating a president.....OMG--it's still over a year until the election!

On Carly Fiorna’s attack on Planned Parenthood

As if the doctored stealth videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue illegally weren’t false enough (a few PP clinics legally donate fetal tissue for medical research and are reimbursed for the expense of doing so), Carly Fiorina described a supposed scene from the video THAT SHE MADE UP! Here's what Politifact reports:

“Carly Fiorina spoke out against Planned Parenthood regarding the controversial videos released over the last few months. The scene she described, though, does not exist in any of the videos.

Fiorina: 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.

We are aware of no video showing such a scene. The videos, released by the Center for Medical Progress beginning on July 14, have focused on fetal tissue being collected for research and have shown some aborted fetal tissue. As we wrote before, the use of donated fetal tissue has been important in several areas of scientific research.

Fiorina’s description matches up with one of the videos in a series the Center for Medical Progress has called “Human Capital” — but only with regard to how an interviewee describes her experience. Holly O’Donnell, an “ex-procurement technician” for StemExpress, a company that procures fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood clinics, relates a story of an intact fetus. She says that a Planned Parenthood doctor “taps the heart and it starts beating,” and then instructs her to remove its brain for collection.

The video does contain images of what appear to be intact fetuses, but they don’t fit Fiorina’s description. In one, where a fetus does appear to move, there is a caption saying that the footage is from the pro-life Grantham Collection and Center for Bio-Ethical Reform; there is no indication as to where the footage was shot. In the other, it was revealed after the video’s release that the image was of a stillborn baby, rather than an aborted fetus.
Though we cannot verify if part or all of O’Donnell’s story is true, the scene Fiorina “dares” others to watch is not present in any of the Planned Parenthood videos."

On Donald Trump boasting he would create a bigger, stronger military, so strong that nobody, not even Putin would mess with us

The fiction the Republicans have created is that talking tough, having a strong military, and using it frequently scares others into cooperating with us. They say Reagan talked tough and scared Gorbachev into disbanding the Soviet Union (false--Glasnost--freedom of speech he implemented led to the Republicans breaking away). They see Bush as tough and strong and would go it alone--going to war in Iraq with "a coalition of the willing". That meant neither NATO nor any major allies were with us and actually weakened us and our interests in the world, strengthening Iran and creating ISIS, which started as Al Qaeda in Iraq. 

They say Obama is weak because he is willing to negotiate with countries that we have serious disagreements with in order to avoid going to war. They don't see it as a strength to bring in our allies to participate in negotiations, but allies add to the threat should negotiations fail. But time after time, Obama has led the majority of the world to the table, negotiating the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, the Iran Agreement, and to stop Russia in Ukraine by implementing sanctions against them that are devastating their economy--finally, the ceasefire seems to be holding, an indication that the policy is working.

Yet like other Republican fictions that they repeat endlessly as if repeating a lie will make it true: that cutting taxes always creates jobs, that making abortion illegal or unavailable reduces abortions, that running a deficit is always bad for the economy, an overwhelmingly strong military used irresponsibly does not make us safer, it makes us feared and hated around the world.

What Republicans see in Ben Carson (I don’t see much)

Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn M. Turner (African American—I mention that because I think it lends her credibility on the issue) wrote that Carson’s inner city Detroit rise to famed neurosurgeon story “allows Republicans to feel good about themselves. They can vote for a black guy (whose name isn’t Obama) and maintain the myth that race is no longer a hindrance in this country and the only thing black folks have to do is work hard (as if blacks don’t already) and they too can achieve the American Dream."

And the prize for dumbest statement goes to (no surprise)

Trump on why he didn't recognize the name of the head of Iran's Quds Force: “[The reporter] was giving me name after name; Arab name, Arab name, Arab name… and there are few people anywhere that would know those names… I think he was reading them off a sheet.” 

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