Friday, January 15, 2016

The smell of fear

It's a stench, with this crowd.

With two weeks to go until the first contest of the 2016 presidential race, Republicans who fear their party has been hijacked by the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz found little to comfort them in the latest debate. 
Both candidates, one a billionaire developer with no political experience and the other a U.S. Senator from Texas with a reputation for clashing with his Washington D.C. colleagues, stood center stage Thursday night and, for the most part, dominated the proceedings. 
More mainstream hopefuls such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida were left nipping at their heels and squabbling among themselves.

Cut to the chase; third place and the 'moderate' mantle is between Rubio and Christie.

All of it left some Republicans worried that time to stop Trump, or Cruz from seizing the inside track on the nomination was evaporating and that the establishment candidates were doing little to slow either man’s momentum. 
“They are digging themselves a bit of a hole,” said Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. “It’s entirely possible the final two candidates will be Trump and Cruz, and people like me will be despondent.” 
New Hampshire holds its primary about a week after Iowa’s and perhaps offers the best chance for a more moderate option to surface as a prime challenger. Iowa Republicans historically tend to favor more conservative candidates.

Yeah, what I said yesterday.

But in New Hampshire right now, “the mainstream Republicans are as splintered and scattered as ever,” Cullen said, leaving open the possibility that Trump could win that state as well. 
Indeed, there seemed to be some acknowledgement during the debate that only one more serious contender might emerge from the rest of the field. It had Christie and Rubio, both of whom hope to win New Hampshire, repeatedly locking horns. 
“They know what lane they’re in and who their (sic) fighting,” said Chip Felkel, a Republican strategist in South Carolina, which also holds primary next month. “It’s Trump and Cruz, and the other four jockeying for some momentum.”

Cruz projects the confidence of a used car salesman reeling in a rube with a dollar bill on the end of a fishing line (yes, a Kurt Russell reference.  He's a hardcore Libertarian, doncha know).

“More and more, this is coming down to a two-man race. The polling, the support, it is more and more looking like it is Donald Trump and me,” Cruz said in an interview on the Fox Business Network after the debate. 
“We have the resources to go the distance. And one of the things we’re seeing, more and more people are coming behind us saying, listen, you guys are the only campaign that can beat Donald Trump,” he added.

I'm going to leave the play-by-play to others and just link to the fact-checking.  This Tweet speaks for me.

Wish I had listened to them.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Desperation time for the Republican debaters tonight

With Rand Paul eliminated, it's going to be "bomb them all, all the time" this evening.

Fox Business Networks’ decision to drop Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul from the main stage at Thursday night’s Republican debate, as well as Paul’s decision not to participate in the undercard event, has eliminated the sole dissenting voice from what could be called the “bomb the shit of them” consensus in the Republican field.

Yeah, too bad about that whole non-aggressionist thing.  It doesn't even play all that well in the Democratic primary.

On to the main event, where Ted Cruz may have some tight-collar moments over the high-dollar loans he forgot to report from 2012.

Republican Primary Lineup December 2015

It's the home stretch in the presidential campaign before people actually start voting in less than three weeks — and that raises the stakes for Thursday night's Republican presidential debate in Charleston, S.C. (After this debate, there will be just one more before the Iowa caucuses.) 
In the past, Trump and Cruz have pulled their punches in these debates. After questioning Cruz's temperament last month, Trump famously said, "He's just fine. Don't worry about it," at a debate in Las Vegas. That was enough for Cruz, who has cleverly, if not transparently, waited for Trump to implode while not offending him, aiming to inherit Trump's supporters. The detente may be over. Or, who knows, maybe the alliance continues.

Politico lights some fuses.

... Republicans are bracing themselves for a circular firing squad as the 2016 GOP candidates gather (in Charleston, SC) for Thursday's debate. 
A cluster of contenders in a fierce competition to command the mainstream GOP lane are almost certain to collide, campaign aides and strategists say. Most of the heat is expected to be directed at Marco Rubio, who, with time running out until the first votes are cast, is anxious to position himself as the establishment front-runner. 

They break it down man y mano, but let's just look at the also-rans err, "mainstream" (sic) candidate four-car pileup.

Establishment candidates have so far been stymied in their efforts to slow down the Trump-Cruz train — in no small part because they’ve been busy fighting amongst themselves. 
That dynamic is almost certain to play out again on Thursday night. With Bush, Christie, Rubio, and John Kasich all competing aggressively in New Hampshire — and all within striking distance of one another — there’s simply little incentive for them to play nice.

“That group of people that are bunched up need to separate themselves,” Wiley said.

That's what I will be watching and Tweeting, because IMO the early stage has already been set: Cruz wins Iowa, Trump wins New Hampshire, and whoever comes in third behind them in each state becomes the story.  South Carolina is the proving ground for Trump and Cruz, with two others left standing out of Rubio and someone else.

The Nevada caucuses are the wild card; the Dems go before the Rs and a week before SC, while the Rs meet three days after the Palmetto State votes.  Historically the Silver State lines up with the favorite (in 2012, Romney and Clinton) and latest polling reveals Clinton and Trump with big leads (although Cruz and Rubio are surging).  Nevada, in short, may not tell us much.

March 1 -- Super Tuesday -- hosts Alabama, Alaska (caucus, R), American Samoa (caucus, D), Arkansas, Colorado (caucus, both parties), Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota (caucus, both), North Dakota (caucus, R), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming (caucus, R).

We should know who each party's standard-bearers for November are by that evening.

Powerball scattershooting

-- In the wake of Chelsea and Hillary Clinton's lying and fear-mongering about Bernie Sanders' as-yet-unannounced healthcare plan, Bernie's campaign raised a quick $1.4 million.  That's just slightly less than one-tenth (one-thousandth; math is hard) of the annuity-option Powerball amount, split last night by tickets sold in California, Tennessee, and Florida.  A poll released last month by Kaiser indicates that 81% of Democrats -- and 60% of independents -- support a Medicare-for-all, single-payer national health care plan.

It feels like the earth moved, and not just for the lottery winners.

-- Speaking of money problems... Ted Cruz.

-- One-third of the members of Congress just forced Speaker Paul Ryan to back down from one of his signature rule-making decisions.  From the nauseatingly conservative Fiscal Times:

On Wednesday, Ryan took one of his first high-profile steps toward instilling a little discipline in the chamber, before promptly backing down in the face of anger from members. 
A defining characteristic of the John Boehner era was that while floor votes almost always had ostensible time limits attached to them, they were almost utterly without meaning. A vote would be held open as long as House leadership felt like it, leading to 15-minute votes taking two and three times as long. 
It was a practice that, by all accounts, annoyed Ryan. And he recently warned the members of the House that he would no longer abet members being late to votes by holding them open. On Wednesday, he made good on his threat. 
The House was scheduled to vote on a bill that would toughen oversight on the Iran nuclear deal that the Obama administration, along with other world powers, struck over the summer. The bill was brought to the floor and a 15-minute vote was declared. And when the 15 minutes was up, the vote was closed. 
The problem was that 137 members of the House, from both parties, hadn’t made it to the floor on time. The bill had the votes to pass, 191-106, but that wasn’t the point. The Iran deal is highly charged politically, all the more so because of the detention and return of 10 U.S. sailors by the Iranian Navy overnight Tuesday. Members were anxious to be on the record voting on the bill, and weren’t at all happy when they sauntered onto the floor after the 15 minutes had expired and were informed that the voting had concluded. 
As members began complaining, Ryan quickly conferred with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Democratic leaders. Not long afterward, McCarthy requested unanimous consent to “vacate” the results of the vote, with a promise that the vote would be rescheduled for later this month, in order to give all members a chance to go on the record.

The reign of the new poker-faced Speaker isn't going to end well, unless of course he emerges as the Republican presidential nominee -- A team or B team -- in a brokered party convention this summer.

-- Still flogged on right-wing sites for the most part, the Clinton Foundation's pay-to-play business slowly being disclosed via Hillary's e-mail investigation lurks as a nomination time bomb.  It's at least worth throwing back in the face of any Shillarian who claims 'electability' now that they can't cling to 'inevitability' so much (at least until Iowa and New Hampshire returns come in).

For my part, I'll wait for the FBI to finish up.  If I keep hearing about it on any of the recently-engaged Rupert Murdoch's media outlets, I'll ignore it.

In other 'sky-is-falling' news, McBlogger has some ground-game complaining.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chelsea and Hillary Clinton's ill-advised comments about healthcare

“I never thought that I would be arguing about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare in the Democratic primary,” (Chelsea) Clinton said at an event in Manchester (NH). “Senator Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare and private insurance.”

She then went on to say that she believes her mother has a “more robust" record on health care than anyone else in the race.  

That's two of the biggest lies told during the campaign so far (and getting to the lead past Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is quite a despicable accomplishment).  Chelsea's just doing what her mother asked her to do, though.

"His plan would take Medicare and Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program [CHIP] and the Affordable Care Act health-care insurance and private employer health insurance and he would take that all together and send health insurance to the states, turning over your and my health insurance to governors," Hillary Clinton said Monday. "I don't believe number one we should be starting over. We had enough of a fight to get to the Affordable Care Act. So I don’t want to rip it up and start over."

She echoed the argument on Tuesday, the same day a Quinnapiac poll showed Sanders overtaking her in Iowa, 49 percent to 44 percent. Reiterating her claim that Sanders' plan would jeopardize the Affordable Care Act and effectively turn over health coverage programs to the states, many of them led by Republican governors, she said: "If that’s the kind of 'revolution' he's talking about, I'm worried, folks."

"I'm worried" at least is probably true.  The rest is BS.

In a statement on Monday, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs hit back: "Secretary Clinton is inaccurate in suggesting that Republican governors would be able to circumvent the law and deny implementation in their states." Referring to a single-payer proposal he put forth in 2013, Briggs added: "The bill Sen. Sanders introduced was very clear. It is national legislation for all states."
National Nurses United added its voice to those defending Sanders' proposal, accusing Clinton of deliberately distorting the facts.

"Surely Hillary Clinton knows that Medicare and Medicaid are national programs, and that they would be funded as national programs," said NNU co-president Jean Ross. "To claim that expanding Medicare to all would hand it over to state governors is a crude, inflammatory distortion, and shows an indifference to all those people who continue to be harmed by a broken system."

Perhaps this foreshadows a line of attack Clinton will use in Sunday evening's debate.  The Nil Admirari's satire doesn't fall far from the truth, does it?

'Medicare for all' is not dismantling Medicare.  More truth: there is no place for for-profit health insurance companies in a single-payer world.

“So to answer your question: What I believe, is in comprehensive, universal health care for all people with a Medicare for all, single payer program. And when you do that, by the way, because you take private insurance companies out of the system, whose only function in life is to try and make as much profit as they can, when you control the costs of prescription drugs, you end up providing healthcare to all — comprehensive — and saving middle class families thousands of dollars a year. That’s why I believe in a Medicare-for-all system.”

Single-payer was too much for Obama to manage in 2009, so I feel certain Clinton isn't going to even give it a try.  She got spanked once about it back in 1993, after all.  That was millions and millions of dollars ago.

This is quite obviously the political revolution she should be worried about.

Update: Mediaite...

...(O)n CNN this afternoon, Jake Tapper confronted Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon over an angry statement Clinton made in 2008 when Barack Obama‘s campaign criticized her for her health care plan. She called it false and made these (interesting in hindsight) remarks: 
“It is destructive, particularly for a Democrat, to be discrediting universal health care by waging a false campaign against my plan… It is undermining core Democratic principles. Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal health care?” 
It appears 2016 Hillary Clinton has now answered her own question.