Archive for Presidential Race


List of demands

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How far down the rabbit hole have we gone that Republican candidates for president think they are entitled to a list of demands from networks hosting debates (and I use that term reservedly) that would make rock bands blush? (Remember, no brown M&Ms.) The Washington Post obtained the list. Here are just a few:

  • Will there be questions from the audience or social media? How many? How will they be presented to the candidates? Will you acknowledge that you, as the sponsor, take responsibilities for all questions asked, even if not asked  by your personnel?
  • Will there be a gong/buzzer/bell when time is up? How will the moderator enforce the time limits?
  • Will you commit that you will not:
    • Ask the candidate to raise their hands to answer a question
    • Ask yes/no questions without time to provide a substantive answer
    • Allow candidate-to-candidate questioning
    • Allow props or pledges by the candidates
    • Have reaction shots of members of the audience or moderators during debates
    • Show an empty podium after a break (describe how far away the bathrooms are)
    • Use behind shots of the candidates showing their notes
    • Leave microphones on during the breaks
    • Allow members of the audience to wear political messages (shirts, buttons, signs, etc.). Who enforces?
  • What is the size of the audience? Who is receiving tickets in addition to the candidates? Who’s in charge of distributing those tickets and filling the seats?
  • What instructions will you provide the audience about cheering during the debate?
  • What are your plans for the lead-in to the debate (Pre-shot video? Announcer to moderator? Director to Moderator?) and how long is it?
  • What type of microphones (lavs or podium)?
  • Can you pledge that the temperature in the hall be kept below 67 degrees?

Dude, can I get on the “guest list” and a backstage pass to hang out with the band?

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GOP debate: Your money or your vote

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You knew right away America was in trouble when the branding for CNBC’s GOP debate coverage last night read “YOUR MONEY * YOUR VOTE” — echoes of Jack Benny’s tightwad character getting mugged:

Thug: Don’t make a move. This is a stickup! Now come on. Your money or your life.
[long pause]
Thug: [repeating] Look, bud, I said ‘Your money or your life.’
Jack Benny: I’m thinking it over!

The rest of the night, too, was one, long punchline. The full transcript is here. Sean Illing has a candidate-by-candidate summary at Salon. But the moderators were “mostly awful” and it was “two and a half hours of political gas.”

CNBC’s moderators were so awful they might have asked candidates what costumes they were wearing for Halloween. (Maybe they just didn’t get around to it.) But it meant candidates garnered easy applause in attacking the “liberal” media whenever asked a question they didn’t like, or just to fill time. Think Progress observed that the network that launched the T-party was “too liberal to host the Republican debate on Wednesday.”

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Saints and Scrooges

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“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”

CEOs who don’t act like CEOs are a rare breed, and newsworthy. Even more so when they are not fictional. Susie Madrak highlighted one the other day at Crooks and Liars. Seems this guy found out it paid off to double the salary of his entry-level employees. Blasphemy! Rush Limbaugh branded him a socialist. Need we say more?

In April, Dan Price, CEO of the credit card payment processor Gravity Payments, announced that he will eventually raise minimum pay for all employees to at least $70,000 a year.

The move sparked not just a firestorm of media attention, but also a lawsuit from Price’s brother and co-founder Lucas, claiming that the pay raise violated his rights as a minority shareholder.

But six months later, the financial results are starting to come in: Price told Inc. Magazine that revenue is now growing at double the rate before the raises began and profits have also doubled since then.

On top of that, while it lost a few customers in the kerfuffle, the company’s customer retention rate rose from 91 to 95 percent, and only two employees quit. Two weeks after he made the initial announcement, the company was flooded with 4,500 resumes and new customer inquiries jumped from 30 a month to 2,000 a month.

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Democratic Pros and Cons-ervatives

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Bernie Sanders got his close-up last night with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. There was nothing new policy-wise.

However, Sanders and Maddow discussed at length his 1996 vote on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which then-President Clinton signed. Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton’s claim last week that President Clinton signed DOMA because he believed there was “enough political momentum” to amend the constitution [with regard to marriage], and that signing DOMA (as well as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and the crime bill headed off worse outcomes. “You can’t say that DOMA was passed in order to prevent something worse,” Sanders said. In an indirect swipe at Hillary Clinton (who was not an elected official at the time), Sanders asserted that he made the tough choices when they were tough choices.

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No wonder they’re so angry

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Watching last night’s Hillary Clinton interview with Rachel Maddow this morning. Particularly interested with her concern for regaining Democratic control in the states ahead of the 2020 census. Asked what she did after eleven straight hours of testimony before “Tea Party Trey” Gowdy’s Benghazi committee, she replied, “I had my whole team come over to my house, and we sat around eating Indian food and drinking wine and beer.” And talking about sports and TV. Unwinding. Behaving in private as if they were real people. Diabolical.

But of course, painting Clinton as unfeeling and Other was the point of the hearings, wasn’t it?

Matt Taibbi had some juicy comments on that at Rolling Stone. Never a fan of the kind of Clintonian “transactional politics” that triangulates on policy in service to “keeping Republicans out of office,” Taibbi nonetheless conceded that Trey Gowdy made a pretty good case for that strategy on Thursday. “It’s hard to imagine a political compromise that wouldn’t be justified if its true aim would be to keep people like those jackasses out of power.”

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80 percent of winning is just showing up

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People ask me, Bernie or Hillary? I tell them I don’t care. My fight is not in Washington, D.C. It is here. I care that someone from the left side of the aisle wins the presidency in November 2016. I need those next 2-3 Supreme Court picks. I’m just not that particular which left-leaning president gets to pick them. And good luck getting them approved by a Republican-controlled Senate. (More on that later.)

The old saying goes: Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans just fall in line. You might have trouble convincing John Boehner of the latter, but the former still seems operative. Bernie-mania is this year’s Obama-mania. It is as if the left’s disappointments with the Obama administration never happened. They’ve found a brand new lover and it will be totally different this time. For a movement confident of its intellectual heft, we are really slow learners.

Matthew Yglesias points out the obvious:

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.

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Final Jeopardy clue: ON 9/11 THIS MAN WAS PRESIDENT

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I’m sorry, ‘He kept us safe’ is incorrect and was not in the form of a question. The correct response: Who is George W. Bush?

It is the Final Jeopardy clue that stumps Republicans every time. Even brother Jeb! has trouble with it.

Surprisingly, Donald Trump does not:

The controversy began Friday morning when Trump implied that the former president could share some blame for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, as he was in office at the time.

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said on Bloomberg TV.

Bloomberg anchor Stephanie Ruhle interjected, “Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that,” before Trump stood by his comments.

“He was president, OK? … Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign,” Trump said.

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It’s human nature

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Writing at Wonkblog, Max Ehrenfreund examined the psychology of Trump supporters (and the rest of us) the other day. It’s nothing shocking, yet we seem to have to be reminded of it regularly:

From a psychological perspective, though, the people backing Trump are perfectly normal. Interviews with psychologists and other experts suggest one explanation for the candidate’s success — and for the collective failure to anticipate it: The political elite hasn’t confronted a few fundamental, universal and uncomfortable facts about the human mind.

We like people who talk big.

We like people who tell us that our problems are simple and easy to solve, even when they aren’t.

And we don’t like people who don’t look like us.

I might add a few others, but that’s a good start.

“Really, we’re not giving people enough credit,” argues John Hibbing, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “We have to take this seriously. You can look down your nose if you want to, but these people aren’t going away.”

Looking down your nose at people. That’s another one: We don’t like people who don’t like us.

The second one recalls the famous H.L. Mencken quote: “There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” Mencken must have met plenty of people like Trump. There are plenty out there. Still …

“People like the idea that deep down, the world is simple; that they can grasp it and that politicians can’t,” Hibbing said. “That’s certainly a message that I think Trump is radiating.”

“Radiating” is a good descriptor. The left puts too much faith in rationality and language, when that’s not how most people operate. They read a lot from nonverbal cues. As I wrote a last year:

One of my favorite southernisms is, “I wouldn’t trust anyone my dog doesn’t like.” That, I caution canvassers, is how most Americans really vote, like it or not. And if you don’t purge the thought, those “low information” voters? They will know you think they’re stupid before you do. Right before you ask for their votes.

Campaign schools drill two things during their trainings. First, we are not normal people. Normal people don’t spend a weekend learning to run political campaigns. Lefty wonks should not try to talk to normal people the way we talk to each other. Second, your job when knocking doors is not to persuade people or to engage them in debate. Your job is to knock, smile, be polite, drop the literature, and, most of all, leave a good impression. If the voters like you, they will vote for your candidate. In many cases it really is that simple. It doesn’t satisfy our need to win some philosophical victory or to browbeat people into submission with the power of our superior arguments, but that’s how things really work in spite of how we think they should.

There is more at the link about tribalism, zero-sum thinking, and “our species’s unconscious and its unchanging predispositions.” Fascinating stuff.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Did anyone else not miss Joe?

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Candidates addressed issues. Moderators asked follow-up questions when they didn’t answer questions. Was that a debate I just saw?

A few favorite tweets from the debate (and one from before):

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I am Debbie. I am The Gatekeeper.

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Whatever has possessed DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is creating a buildup of negative human emotions in her party, and it must be stopped before it produces a psychomagnotheric slime flow of immense proportions.

Who ya gonna call? Beats me.

First off, The Gatekeeper has decided in the face of dissension in her ranks that there will be only six Democratic debates. “We’re going to have six debates. Period,” Wasserman Schultz told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in September.

By limiting the number of debates, the DNC is “ceding the discussion and attention to the Republicans,” Martin O’Malley’s campaign manager told Politico. Plus, it gives the appearance that the DNC is protecting front runner Hillary Clinton. If The Gatekeeper is trying hard to appear impartial (as I read somewhere), she is leaving the opposite impression. DNC vice chairs, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, have also called for more debates, and the chatter among other members is not favorable to Wasserman Schultz.

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