Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Politics Page 2 of 33

Presidential caucuses have been Connie’s specialty in Iowa as she followed the elections of 2004, 2008, 2012 and wrote the 2 books “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.” She also continues to follow politics by avidly reading everything she can get her hands on, including “Rolling Stone,” “Mother Jones,” “Newsmax,” “Time,” etc.

Will the Real Ron DeSantis Please Stand Up

Red State/Blue State Debate: Whose Idea Was This?

Ron DeSantis.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022. (Photo by Wade Vandervort / AFP) (Photo by WADE VANDERVORT/AFP via Getty Images)

We watched the debate between Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, and Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, and, the entire time, what was going through my mind was, “Why?”

The debate was staged by Fox News and Sean Hannity was the moderator, but the obvious take-away, up front, is that this thing is not going to be “fair and equal” because it is being run (some would say “rigged”) by Fox News.

After the debate was over there were charges that DeSantis had been fed the questions ahead of time, that he was talking with his “team” during the debate (accusations made of both), that a screen was slanted towards DeSantis and not towards Newsom. After the debate had lurched to a close, the moderator said the mismatched duo were going to stay on and continue.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

But that didn’t happen. There were reports that Newsom’s wife, Jennfer Seibel Newsom, marched onstage and barked “We’re done.” Some reports said that she was particularly ticked off that her father (Newsom’s father-in-law) was cited by DeSantis as having introduced himself to the Florida governor and endorsed Florida’s superiority to California as a state in which one wished to live, having just relocated from California to Florida himself.

I keep asking myself why Newsom would agree to participate in what was most certainly going to be a rigged presentation, with Fox News attempting to bolster DeSantis’ race for the White House and Newsom not even being a candidate this election cycle. Or is he?

DeSantis kept referencing Newsom’s “shadow campaign” for the White House, while each liberally insulted the other. Meanwhile Hannity threw up a variety of charts and graphs that favored Florida, as you just knew it would.

For this reason my spouse (who says he is Independent but is from good Republican stock) declared DeSantis to have been “the winner.” I felt that the statistics would favor Florida, everyone’s favorite retirement destination. However, I felt that the presentation and command of the stage and facts win went to Newsom.

I admit to being quite concerned about Newsom’s judgment when I think about the fact that he was once married to Kimberly Guilfoyle, now Donald Trump, Jr.’s main squeeze, but his new blonde wife looked like a massive step up. Wife #2 recognized that this debate would feel so good once it ended and helped facilitate that, which was probably smart.

One of the contentious things that came out of the debate was DeSantis holding up a picture of a graph he claimed represented the most heavily feced areas of San Francisco. Later, Newsom said this was a violation of the rules agreed upon beforehand.  The placards and other such debate aids that Hannity put up onscreen were also being argued about, after the debate had concluded. Supposedly, they were not to be allowed, although Hannity disputed this contention. (Don’t they all?)

Gavin Newsom.

California Governor Gavin Newsom.

I just kept wondering, “What’s in this for Gavin Newsom? Who thought up this entire idea?”

One idea that did make sense was this one: If Biden were to pull out of the presidential race at the last minute for any reason, who would the Democrats belatedly run? Naturally, one thinks immediately of Vice President Kamala Harris, who is, if polls are right, is even less popular right now than Biden himself.

She is from California. So is Gavin Newsom. According to the 12th amendment to the Constitution, electors may not vote for presidential and vice-presidential candidates who both reside in the elector’s state—at least one of them must be an inhabitant of another state.

Is all of this part of some behind-the-scenes plan to hedge all bets and find a way to exclude the unpopular Harris? Who thought up the entire ordeal that Newsom just endured ?

We are a house divided and, while I agree that the placards carried the day for Florida over California, DeSantis’ sickly smile and poor debate skills couldn’t hold a candle to the much smoother Newsom. DeSantis kept trying to “diss” Newsom as “slick.” If you think back, that perjorative term was applied to Bill Clinton and, later, to Barack Obama. I’m perfectly fine with “slick” if it means competent, poised and articulate. The fact that Newsom is so poised is surprising considering his life-long history of dyslexia, which continues to the present.

Setting aside my reservations about Newsom’s poor judgment in selecting a Screaming Mimi as his first wife in 2001 and being married to her until 2005, there is also this.  He had an ill-advised affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of his good friend and Chief of Staff, Alex Tourk, a woman who worked for him. Newsom met and married film-maker Jennifer Siebel in 2007 and the couple has four children.

Chris Christie

Former New Jersey Governor and potential presidential hopeful (2024) Chris Christie.

The bench for successor to Biden is not currently very deep.  The GOP party is a shadow of its former self and Nikki Haley is looking like a more viable candidate than DeSantis, while preliminary reports are that Chris Christie may not even make the ballot in one state. (Who knows if he’ll make another debate stage?)

Whatever Democratic strategist gave the go-ahead for Newsom to take a thrashing, factually, but prevail in the personality department should be brought forth to explain to the rest of us what is really going on here.

Nikki Haley

GOP Debate of November 8th Is More Controlled Than Chaotic

 

Vivek Ramaswamy & Nikki Haley

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 23: Republican presidential candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy (L) and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley participate in the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum on August 23, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Eight presidential hopefuls squared off in the first Republican debate as former U.S. President Donald Trump, currently facing indictments in four locations, declined to participate in the event. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Nikki Haley was incensed by Vivek Ramaswamy for mentioning that Haley’s daughter is on Tik Tok. The remark summoned echoes of “Keep my wife’s name out of your mouth” spoken by Will Smith at the Oscars (followed by a physical slap). There is no love lost between Haley and Ramaswamy.

Ramaswamy also attacked the moderators, which was uncalled-for. It was especially lame when the moderators were Lester Holt, Kristin Welker of “Meet the Press,” and Hugh Hewitt. Viviswamy suggested that Tucker Carlson would have been better, which is ludicrous.

To me, the candidate who seemed spectacularly weak in his responses was Tim Scott. He seems to have forgotten that this country was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. He constantly promoted the anti-abortion movement, made questionable remarks about the Social Security age to retire, and basically kept talking about faith and a return to faith as the panacea for all things he disliked in the United States.

Chris Christie is usually one of the two best debaters on the stage (Haley being the other). My husband and I felt we could live with a President Christie. That is a very unlikely possibility, since Christie’s attacks on DJT have made him anathema to the GOP base, which seems increasingly unhinged these days.

Hogan Gidley, former deputy press secretary to Trump, made the valid point, post debate, that DJT needed to be here to debate, since he is the front-runner.

Ron DeSantis comes across as someone who doesn’t like to smile much and is smug as hell. He was better after the debate was over, when he seemed less like such a dim bulb and answered questions posed by the talking heads of NBC. His many dictator-style actions in Florida make him one of those politicians that you just know you are going to have to suffer through whatever he is saying when he is onstage. Remember when he chided teen-agers wearing masks during the pandemic? (Explains why Florida had one of the worst Covid death rates in the nation and was losing 240 people a day.) DeSantis has all the earmarks of a tin-pot dictator, and one gets the feeling that he is going to get worse before he gets better.

The moderators tonight did a better job than in the previous GOP debate. DeSantis did better than he has done in the past and Nikki Haley continued to do well, but she is female. It is difficult to imagine the GOP of today putting a woman at the top of the ticket. (The Democrats tried, and look how well that turned out.)

Mary Katharine Ham, a conservative columnist interviewed in the Spin Room, said that Nikki Haley’s 25-year-old daughter was grown and her parents were no longer in charge of her social media presence, so her Tik Tok usage should not have been mentioned by Vivek Ramaswamy. Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley seem to not like each other AT ALL. DeSantis and Haley are “separating themselves” from the rest of the pack, according to the spin room experts.

There is now a shot on my television screen of DeSantis trying to smile. He really does not look comfortable smiling. Ever.

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022. (Photo by Wade Vandervort / AFP) (Photo by WADE VANDERVORT/AFP via Getty Images)

Carlos Curbelo, a Republican former Florida Congressman, pretty much discounted Christie and Scott as potential nominees. He acknowledged that tonight’s debate was much more substantive. Curbelo and another spin-meister had no real answer for “Why did Viviswamy feel it was a good election technique to attack the moderators?” To me, Viviswamy, like DJT, just likes to stir things up. Chaos is their brand.

Ryan Noble in New Hampshire watched the debate with the first-in-the-nation voters and reported back to us on who had won, based on their reactions.

For me, Haley was the most appealing and got some truly good retorts (I liked her comment about her 5-inch heels), but Christie, to me, seems as though he has the necessary experience to do the job. While Haley might also be up to the challenge, I can’t imagine the GOP putting a woman at the top of their ticket. It was a daring enough move when the Democrats selected Hillary Clinton in 2016 and look how well that turned out.

Ron DeSantis has shown himself to be a stubborn Know-It-All that even former Congressional colleagues did not like, when they served alongside him. He continues the tilt towards authoritarian leaders that Trump brought to its peak. He likes the idea of book banning, attacks on LGBQT, and restricting women’s reproductive rights. The man seems like he would not work and play well with others. (So much for working across the aisle). Maybe we should chip in and send him a shirt that says, “Does not work or play well with others. Runs with scissors. Hates Disney.” Still, I can definitely see the GOP voters I know switching from the complete sleaze that DJT is to DeSantis, especially when he says bold things about “shooting illegal immigrants stone cold dead” or some such blustery retort.

This country needs a leader who understands the meaning of the word diplomacy and is likeable. Which of the two GOP front-runners do you think best exemplifies that, DeSantis or Haley? We know, for sure, that Trump is a bully and will spend the rest of his life playing the victim and trying to get revenge for his real or imagined slights. If the Iowa and New Hampshire voters are as informed and aware as they are often said to be, they surely can’t miss the very real fact that Trump is going to be tied up in court for a very long time. That, alone, if not the 14th amendment drafted after the Civil War that prevents anyone who took part in an insurrection from running for office, should keep DJT off the ballot. Who wants to hear him whine about how mean the courts have been to him for the next four years? (Not I, said the Little Red Hen.)

DeSantis is now being interviewed in the spin room:  “I think NBC did a good job. The questions were substantive and there wasn’t a lot of screaming.” He is now saying that DJT is being kept off the stage by his handlers as a tactical political move. He remarked that DJT is a very different candidate than he was in 2020. “Voters are now going to pay attention. It is going to hurt him that he is not on that stage.”

The interviewer asks about DJT’s lead, up by 27 points to 42 points, which DeSantis says is because he is the most famous politician in the world. “We’re in this situation now with the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that the vast numbers of voters in those states do not want to nominate Donald Trump.” (I hope he is right.)

Gee. GOP voters don’t want to nominate a guy who has been indicted 91 times and basically convicted of rape in a civil case? They don’t want to nominate a guy appearing in court every day where his fraud as a businessman has been established and the only question is how big a penalty he will pay for lying “bigly” on financial documents? Gee. I wonder why not? Or, more to the point, I wonder, “Who ARE these GOP voters who DO want to nominate a sleaze like Trump?” Have you ever seen them interviewed at their gatherings? It’s frightening. The fact that the man is still the front-runner says a lot about the power of television, but it says something else about the failure to educate potential voters, either in school or through reliable reporting elsewhere. (Fox News strikes again.)

Does DeSantis need to be tougher on DJT ?

“I think I’m the only guy who can really play in that space of replacing DJT.” He mentions Mexico paying for the border wall. DeSantis is talking about taxing the remittances of moneys sent back to Mexico to raise the money for a wall. (One of the Sunday morning talk shows had a good conversation where those talking agreed that the wall that needs to be built is between Central America and Mexico.)

As GOP voters began to know more about DeSantis, he dropped 14 points. “What changed was the Alvin Bragg indictment.”DeSantis says DJT gets more media attention, but, in Iowa, he feels he can even the media difference out personally by personal campaigning in the state. “I think that Kim Reynolds endorsing me is a big moment for me.” (*As a side note, Kim Reynolds, in a recent poll, was said to be one of the least popular governors in the U.S. So much for how great Iowa thinks she is.)

Will the Real Ron DeSantis Please Stand Up

Policy question to DeSantis:  Abortion access powering Dems to victories? Does he believe in a national ban? “If you look at the practical reality of a divided country, pro lifers in particular have a big problem on this referendum. I think the Pro life movement has got to focus on these referendums and be more strategic. They have been getting their clock cleaned on the referendums. Good Republican candidates did well in the aftermath of Dobbs, but the Trump factor is voters who don’t like DJT breaking for the Democrats. When push comes to shove, we (GOP) should be cleaning house.”

Keane, NH:  Reaction to the abortion issue from an elderly woman:  “I am disappointed that so many women in this country vote with their emotions… I can’t believe so many women vote on the issue of abortion.” This struck me as a very uninformed remark. Women certainly have a right to be “emotional” on the subject of whether or not they will be forced to bear a child (and care for it for the rest of their lives) based on laws passed by old white men who are evangelical Christians (or worse).

Second voter, male: “The most well-managed debate. Riveting. I nearly fell asleep in the first debate.”

Third voter, female:  Most important issue? “I thought the idea that the world is on fire was pretty important and the question of whether we help these countries or not. I think that Nikki did a good job on the abortion policy. I would like to see abortion be a private issue for the women in the country and not be such a public issue.” This from a mature New Hampshire female voter who seemed head-and-shoulders above the first female commenter, mentioned above.

NIKKI HALEY IN THE SPIN ROOM

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – FEBRUARY 15: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley arrives on stage at her first campaign event on February 15, 2023 in Charleston, South Carolina. Former South Carolina Governor and United Nations ambassador Haley, officially announced her candidacy yesterday, making her the first Republican opponent to challenge former U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Tom Yamos and Holly Jackson:  (Nikki Haley) Tik Tok remark during the debate: “I’m a Mom. The minute you say something about my 25-year-old daughter you get my back up.” She added, “I think Ramaswamy has a dangerous foreign policy that would make America less safe. I don’t even give him the time of day. He has just proven that he has no business being President of the United States.”

On Abortion access:  “I look at it from the perspective that this is personal for every man and every woman in America.” “If you’re gonna’ talk about a federal bill, at least be honest with them. You’ve got Republicans trying to push something that isn’t realistic.”

Israel and Hammas:  Can you destroy Hammas without destroying Gaza? “We’ve always focused on civilians first. But the reality is that if 1400 Americans had been brutally murdered that way, would Americans be okay with that? We had 33 Americans who were murdered. This is not just personal for Israel, it is personal for the United States. Hammas uses women and children as human shields.  If you do a pause, people die, because we’ve done this before. They refuel so they can attack again. They need to let loose of every civilian hostage they have before we negotiate.”

FROM IOWA:

Kyle, a young male voter in Altoona, says he is going to caucus for either DeSantis or Nikki Haley.

Checklist from Altoona male voter:  “Vivek doesn’t pay enough attention to the world order. I feel that we need really competent world leadership.”

Female in bar in Altoona who entered as a MAGA supporter:  “I’m probably still leaning towards DJT. There’s a lot that still could happen, My allegiance is still with DJT, but I really liked the way DeSantis came out in this debate. I still swing back to DJT who kept peace for 4 years, but I think that Ron DeSantis could do the same thing for us if he were elected.” (My heart hurts for someone who knows so little about what DJT did for four years and has done for over 7 decades and does not seem to know enough about the actions of DeSantis in Florida, either.)

All voters in Altoona raised their hands, saying that they felt Trump should have been onstage for the debate.

TIM SCOTT

Tim Scott

Tim Scott

Talking about raising the retirement age:  “Raising the retirement age for a blue collar worker by a year or two is devastating.” (?) All of our spending is bad, he says, despite many worthwhile improvements that the Biden administration has devoted funds towards, and he talks about going back to pre-Covid levels of spending. “We have to increase the economic activity in the private sector.” Scott spoke of a balanced budget amendment. Lots of talking about faith. It appears that his wife is an attractive white blonde woman, based on the family members seen flocking to see their favorite candidate after the debate ended.

On Iran: Further escalation? “What we’ve seen is 40 attacks on military personnel since October 7th. We need to cut off the head of the snake (in Iran). Hammas gets 90% of its funds from Iran. What we need to do is not just to strike warehouses in Syria but to strike the funders of terrorism in the region.” 1600 or 1700 Israelis were lost and 35 American lives. “You cannot negotiate with evil, you have to destroy it.” (Seems like quite a war monger; wonder if he got behind DJT’s idea to bomb drug dealers within Mexico?)

Asked about whether he will make it onto the next debate stage:  ‘I’m 100 % certain that 100 days from now in Alabama I’ll be on the debate stage.” (Really? Maybe ask them to donate to the deficit, instead? Seems like pouring money down a rat hole.) “Voters are just turning their attention to this election. I’m very optimistic about this election.” (Well, that makes one person, but he’s not an Iowa voter.)

RAMASWAMY’S ATTACK ON THE RNC

“Kind of weird” says the GOP former deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley about Ramaswamy’s attack on Rona McDaniel. He says that there is criticism amongst other GOP voters of the RNC. They don’t feel that the RNC is doing enough at the local level.

CHANGE FROM DEBATE ?

Chris Christie

Former governor of New Jersey and presidential candidate Chris Christie.

“In this moment, no, no change.” Christie, for one, the GOP moderator found to be lackluster. “You’re here to throw bombs. Why aren’t you throwing them?”

“Donald Trump has the luxury of not coming because he is so high in the polls, but as the field shrinks, there may be an opportunity for him to come in and shake things up. (From Hogan Gidley).

WHO DO REPUBLICANS WANT TO SEE RUN ?

Jen Psaki said that the voters were not really planning for any of these candidates. “I think that what they are focused on is the general election.” She highlighted abortion and the Republican party being the party of extremism as things the Democrats will emphasize during the 2024 election. (Good things to emphasize, since they are true.)

Any chance of Biden pulling out as a candidate?

Jen Psaki says no. “I was part of Obama’s team when people were saying, ‘There’s no way this guy can win.’ And then he won.”

 

I second that last bit of wisdom, from Jen Psaki, former Press Secretary for President Biden. I was named the Yahoo Content Producer of the Year for Politics in 2008 and vilified for reporting  that Obama was winning in Iowa. That article on Associated Content was hit 3 million times. As a result, I was invited to come to Denver and cover the 2008 DNC and the 2008 RNC in St. Paul, from which came two books, “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vols, I & II. Check them out.

“Remember This” Documentary at Nashville Film Festival Stars David Straithairn

David Straithairn as Jan Karski in “Remember This” at the Nashville Film Festival.

Academy Award nominee David Straithairn portrays Polish Underground hero Jan Karski in this 95-minute documentary from the Nashville Jewish Film Festival. Straithorne will be better known to audiences as Tom Cruise’s convict older brother in “The Firm” or as the Oscar nominee for 2006’s “Good Night, and Good Luck.” More recently Straithairn was the male lead opposite Frances McDormand in the Oscar-winning Best Picture of the Year, 2021’s “Nomadland.”

In this Jeff Hutchens and Derek Goldman directed tour de force one-man show, Straithairn is onstage with just a table and a chair and must carry the entire story of the Polish war hero and the Nazi genocide without benefit of anything but some accompanying music. It’s a tall order with Straitharn, an actor in his 70s, portraying over 30 characters. It is the spare black-and-white no frills approach that kept the budget to $500,000.

The film is based on the play “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski” by Clark Young and Derek Goldman. As a play, it ran with Straitharn “live” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. The film was shot on a Brooklyn soundstage in July of 2020 at the height of the pandemic, and was completed in 2022. The play was originally prepared for the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University.

Karski was a Polish Catholic with a photographic memory; he was a true Polish patriot. Said Karski, “I am a 28-year-old machine.  I am an insignificant little man.” He volunteered to become a sort of human tape recorder, documenting the genocide of the Jewish population of Poland and Germany. Captured at various points in his perilous journey, he narrowly escaped death at many points, attempted suicide at least once, and maintained that he was an ordinary man until the end of his life. We see a short snippet of the real Jan Karski, and he breaks down while trying to recount his adventures.

Throughout the film about World War II a viewer cannot stop thinking of the Ukraine/Russia conflict that is ongoing. Repeated throughout the film is the question, “What can we do?” The only suggestion during the film consisted of hunger strikes to publicize the atrocities.

The seeming indifference of the top leaders of the Allied powers in the UK and the US is underscored, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Felix Frankfurter flat-out telling Jan during their meeting that he does not believe him. Likewise, President Roosevelt was being urged by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to do more for the beleaguered Jewish population. She wanted him to allow more Holocaust victims to flee to the United States, but he followed the lead of Sir Anthony Eden of Great Britain, who said only, “The matter will take its proper course.”

Meanwhile, as Karski is told by his Superior in London, Szmul Zgielbojm (Polish government in exile), “Tell them in London and the U.S. that we are dying.  Remember this.” Repeatedly Karski is told, “Perhaps this will shake the conscience of the world.” The message that echoes throughout: “Governments have no souls.  They have only their interests.  Individuals have souls.”‘

While Straithairn does what he can with the part, this is no “Schindler’s List.” The filmmakers did insert some sound effects and music that aids a bit, but it is truly up to Straithairn to convey the horror of a systematic attempt to wipe out three and one-half million Jewish residents of Poland and 6 million throughout Europe. The numbers of Jewish survivors in Poland are reduced to a few thousand survivors.

The letter to Roosevelt and Churchill that laid it out quite baldly said, “The surviving Jews of Poland beg you to find a way to save them.  The greatest crime in human history.  Force the Nazi murderers to stop the systematic extinction of our people.”Karski also had meetings with the top diplomats of the U.K. and the U.S., including Roosevelt  I recently completed Robert Dallek’s biography of FDR entitled “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A Political Life.” That comprehensive history of FDR’s years in office confirms the stories that Jan Karski tells about the slow pace of world leaders; those leaders would later claim that they had not been told of the full extent of the Holocaust.

One of the most telling historical stories depicted in the film is that of Szmul Mordeko Zgielbojm, the member of the Polish government-in-exile in London to whom Jan Karski reported.  Zgielbojm was a Polish Socialist politician and Bund trans-union activist. He and Karski sought every avenue to publicize to the world the atrocities being committed in Poland, Germany and throughout Nazi-dominated Europe. On May 11th, 1943, after the brutal crushing of the Polish Warsaw Rebellion by units under the control of SS-Brigadefuhrer Jeugen Stroop, Zbielbojm committed suicide to protest the inaction of the western Allied powers.

The testimony is important for history, especially in an age when there are still Holocaust deniers. Straitharn does what he can with a bare bones production. Checking out some of the original recordings of Jan Karski (the Shoah Project) is a worthwhile pursuit. You can find some links at RememberThisKarskifilm.com.

GOP Second Debate on September 27th, 2023, Ends Up As Shout-Fest

Will the Real Ron DeSantis Please Stand UpI just watched the second GOP debate. I feel like I need a shower and a stiff drink. Maybe some ear plugs, too, since at least four of the seven candidates for the Republican nomination for president were usually talking at once.

We watched the debate on Fox “live,” as it was held from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California because I’m in Nashville for the film festival, which starts tomorrow, and the daughter’s set has mainly streaming services. We finally located it “live” on YouTube.

A British guy named Stuart Varney started this cluster-f*** off by totally mangling the name of his Hispanic co-host, Ilia Calderone of Noticias Univision. How Ms. Calderone got on this panel is a good question; she did bring some interesting questions to the candidates, including one on LGBQT people that saw Mike Pence move from a statement about protecting all Americans to one saying he would ban all transgender efforts in the United States. It’s quite a stretch from asking how you would protect LGBQT Americans, who, Ms. Calderone noted, are far more likely to be violently attacked, to vowing to attack them yourself using legal means. (Yikes!)

The three hosts were Ilia Calderone and Dana Perino and the British badly balding Stuart Varney. Not the “A” team.

Not only did Varney basically mutilate Ms. Calderone’s name in a fashion that we hadn’t heard since John Travolta  mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name as Adele Dazeem at the 2014 Oscars, but Varney had absolutely no control over the combatants, although he kicked off the evening by saying, “Keep it civilized.” (Ha!)

I switched between a YouTube Live showing of the contestants and what we used to call Twitter (now “X”). Several “X” users had posted pictures of Vivek Ramaswamy’s mile-high hair next to pictures of Beavis or Butthead. (I can never tell them apart; not a regular fan.) One other “X” user had posted a picture of Vivek’s mile-high hair next to an Afro wearer, mentioning that Ramaswamy was really trying hard to get the Black vote tonight.

One analyst commented on Tim Scott’s dumb take on the UAW strike, saying something to the effect that they (the auto workers) should get fired like the air traffic controllers were fired under Reagan. Citing $86 billion in aid for union pensions, (which Scott claimed was “the1 st bill under Joe Biden,”) Scott criticized the auto workers desire for shorter work week but more pay and added, “Joe Biden shouldn’t be on the picket line. He should be on the Southern border.” Apparently Tim Scott has missed out on hearing about the phenomenal salaries that the Big Three CEO’s are pulling down, while, because of the financial crisis in 2008/2009, auto workers gave up many perks of their jobs at that time to help save the car companies and now would like a fair share of the record profits they are raking in. The GOP haranguing against unions is nothing new, however. I was surprised that they didn’t attempt to drag teachers’ unions through the mud with mis-statements, once again.

As the MSNBC analysts pointed out, to hear these candidates tonight, the very worst thing that Donald J. Trump has done is to not  show up for the GOP debate. No mention of his planning and executing a coup. No mention of his recent suggestion that General Mark Milley be executed or his willingness to let his VP be hanged on January 6th.  This ignoring the elephant in the room seems to be the norm of the new Republican party. Tonight Trump took heat from several of the candidates, including Ron DeSantis, who had meticulously avoided criticizing Trump by name until tonight, but only for his failure to appear to shout over the others. No harsh words for the man about his 91 criminal indictments or how he was recently found guilty of decades of fraud in his business practices, other than wondering why he couldn’t be here this night to join in the general chaos and talk over the other candidates, which he most certainly would have done. (My daughter wanted to know when civility and behaving in a polite fashion while debating went out of style, and my answer was, “When the GOP elevated a con-man like Donald Trump to the top spot in their party.” Which, by the way, he still occupies, even if his hold on the party is tenuous as the charges against him mount.

IMHO, it was very difficult to understand Ilia Calderon. And Stuart Varney just seemed out of his element. Dana Perino seemed to perform the best of the three moderators, but all were underwhelming.

There was a lot of criticism of the failure to control immigration at the border, with very little acknowledgement of how longstanding a problem this is. It is not just Joe Biden who has dropped the ball on immigration reform. The system is broken and Congress needs to act to fix it, but never let the truth get in the way of a good debate.

Both Mike Pence and others threw shade at Ramaswamy for doing business with China as an entrepreneur. If I heard correctly, Ramaswamyy had done business with the same organization that Hunter Biden is accused of doing business with. Pence, mentioning that Ramaswamy had withdrawn from the business deal with China in 2018, asked if that was the year Vivek began voting for president. Ramaswamy took a lot of incoming; he seemed in high spirits throughout. Ramaswamy and Chris Christie laughed at the chaos unleashed by the complete disregard for civility that these debates seem to have devolved into, with Christie literally lounging against the lectern with a big smile on his face when things were going down the tubes.

Most of the specific mentions of policies were one candidate attacking another, as when Haley attacked DeSantis or Scott attacked Haley over a gas tax. (I liked Nikki Haley’s remark of “Bring it” and how hard she worked to correct the misinformation about a gas tax in her state.)

Some mentioned that the Hispanic moderator brought up some facts that Fox viewers do not normally get to hear, like the fact that 90% of illegal drugs are sought by purchasers in the U.S. and are caught at the border (so much for the tough talk on  how tough each would be on the drug cartels) or how LGBQT people are more likely to become victims of vicious attacks.

One of my favorite moments was when Chris Christie looked directly into the camera, saying that he knew DJT would be watching, and then said, of Donald J. Trump, “He’s divided people all over this country.  He needs to be voted off the island and be voted out of this process.”

Neither Christie nor Burgum got much of a chance to contribute, tonight, even when the topic was something that Burgum of North Dakota claimed expertise in, energy security. This despite the fact that Nikki Haley said, “Energy security is national security.” Pence, who looked extremely tired this evening, noted that, during his stint as Vice President under the man who plotted to overthrow our national election, we (the U.S.) became a national exporter of energy for “the first time in 75 years.” Pence did not seem to give much credence to the fact that our dependence on fossil fuels has contributed to the wacky weather that we have all experienced this past year, (including the hottest day on the planet in July). The Biden administration’s attempts to move us off fossil fuels and onto other alternatives, plus the efforts to get the United States car manufacturers making electric vehicles (which China is way ahead of us on doing) is directly linked to the global warming that human mistreatment of the planet, including using coal and oil instead of wind or nuclear or solar power], has created.

I hope that someone more dedicated than me investigates whether Floridians did or did not get to vote on fracking before DeSantis’s actions on fracking and drilling. There was a heated debate between Nikki Haley and DeSantis on that very point; she seemed to be winning. DeSantis, in the manner of politicians from forever, fielded a question about the cost of college by pivoting to his own educational achievements and his military record (“I’ll be the first person since 1988 who has also served.”) It was absolutely not answering the question asked and smacked of a self-serving stroll down memory lane

I wish that Cassidy Hutchison’s insights into the January 6th riots had been viewed by as many people as viewed tonight’s so-called “debate” because they were far more relevant to selecting the right people to run our country in 2024.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Gone

“No Labels” Third Party May Really Be A GOP-Ploy to Re-Elect Trump

Rep. Brad Schneider is pictured.

A group of House Democrats with ties to No Labels is turning on the centrist group after it attacked one of their founding members.

 No Labels texted people who live in the district of Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), criticizing the congressman for scoffing at their idea for a unity presidential ticket and claiming it could result in Donald Trump’s return to the presidency.

The information (above) is something I sought out after listening to the Sunday, August 27th, episode of “Meet the Press.” During the waning moments of the show (which I always tape) there was a spirited debate between one of the founders of the No Labels movement and an individual responsible for a Democratic largely reader-written blog that is currently being sued by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for reporting on some of his positions and appearances, “Daily Kos.” (Even RFK, Jr.’s family is upset that he is running, because of his tendency to embrace fringe theories.)

Since polls have found that somewhere around 65% to 75% of Americans do not want either of the leading candidates—Trump or Biden—to run, the No Labels group claimed to be attempting to field other candidates for President. Chief among those mentioned were Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Governor Chris Sununu. The spokesman on “Meet the Press” said that they would be interviewing candidates in March/April and making an announcement after that.

What the No Labels group claims it is doing is offering candidates to the public that they actually want to vote for.

What they may, actually, be trying to do is to act as a ‘spoiler’ group, assuring that no candidate gets to 270 Electoral College votes. That would send the choice of the president to the House of Representatives, which is currently GOP dominated. There hasn’t been a successful third party challenge of the magnitude of Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party for decades, although the next-closest attempt occurred when Ross Perot attempted the feat in 1996.

Perot ran an independent campaign in the 1992 U.S. presidential election and a third-party campaign in the 1996 U.S. presidential election as the nominee of the Reform Party, which was formed by grassroots supporters of Perot’s 1992 campaign. Although he failed to carry a single state in either election, both campaigns were among the strongest presidential showings by a third party or independent candidate in U.S. history (the most successful since Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party).

Former GOP stragegist and Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson argues that No Labels’ “centrist do-gooder” position is deeply misleading. “What could possibly go wrong?” he asks. “The thing that could go wrong is the election of Donald Trump.”

“Mother Jones” did a run-down of who is financially behind “No Labels” here: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/06/no-labels-exposed-heres-a-list-of-donors-funding-its-effort-to-disrupt-the-2024-race/

Five False Facts From the August 23, 2023, GOP Debate

  1.  “What the Democrats are trying to do on this issue is wrong, to allow abortion all the way up to the moment of birth.”

(Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida)

“We cannot let states like California, New York and Illinois have abortions on demand up until the day of birth.”

(Senator Tim Scott)

THIS IS FALSE.

Roe v. Wade was the law of the land for over 20 years and the American public still wants the right to decide their own fate in regards to whether a woman is forced by the GOP  to bear a child to term because religious zealots have made it very difficult to secure an abortion that is safe and medically supervised. The sanest voice in the room seemed to be Nikki Haley—-also the only female—who felt that this should be a matter decided by a woman in consultation with her family and physicians. Abortion has always been about the male desire to retain power by keeping women down and in their place. The Democratic proposal that did not pass the Senate allowed states to ban abortion after fetal viability, roughly 24 weeks, except when the mother’s life was threatened. There are good reasons to allow an abortion, but no one in the Democratic party has lobbied for a late-term abortion. This question was answered by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in a back yard in Muscatine, Iowa, in 2004, when he was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president. A physician, he had actually checked records in Vermont and testified that there had never been a documented case of a late-term abortion in Vermont history.

2)  “We will back law enforcement because we remember who we really are.  And that’s also how we address that mental health epidemic in the next generation that is directly leading to violent crime across the country.”

(Vivek Ramiswamy)

This is unsupported by factual evidence. There is no direct correlation between people with serious mental illness and responsibility for violent acts. Ramiswamy had a bad night on the “factual” level, constantly making random remarks that were not supported by any factual evidence. He also voiced the sentiment that Ukraine and Israel should not be supported by the U.S.

3)  “We need to acknowledge the truth, which is that these subsidies are not working.” (Nikki Haley)

THIS IS FALSE.

President Biden in Independence, Iowa on the Fourth of July, 2019.

Early data suggests that President Biden’s subsidies for renewable energy are proving to be more popular with companies and consumers than initially forecast. Job creation and investment have been rising. The possibility that subsidies could spur greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than originally estimated have been put forth.  (Governor Doug Burgum).

THIS IS FALSE.

In 2021, the Director of the CIA, William J. Burns, traveled to Moscow, informing Putin about American intelligence concerning Russia’s war plans and cautioning him about the consequences of such an attack.

4)  “The reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change.” (Vivek Ramaswamy)

THIS IS FALSE.

No deaths have been linked to the growth of renewable energy or to the Biden administration’s attempts to reduce the use of fossil fuels to address global warming.  Between 1970 and 2021, however, according to the United Nations, 2 million people died from extreme weather events. Right now, we are sweltering under a heat wave and rising global temperatures have caused more than 700 deaths, 67,500 emergency room calls and more than 9,200 hospitalizations.

5)  “Joe Biden’s Bidenomics has led to the loss of $10,000 of spending power for the average family.”  (Senator Tim Scott)

THIS IS FALSE.

Economists agree that the $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package did contribute to inflation, but it was not the sole cause of rising prices. There was also the stimulus passed under Donald J. Trump and the monetary stimulus by the Federal Reserve, along with disruptions to supply chains caused by Covid-19.

 

GOP Debate Is Fox News Love Fest

So, I’ve been watching the Republican debate. (Just shoot me now.)

First, on a positive note, the woman singing the “Star Spangled Banner” was outstanding.

Second, Ron DeSantis did not answer a single question asked of him. He simply answered something completely unrelated every time.

Chris Christie, bearer of truth, saluted Mike Pence’s actions on January 6th and reminded us that Trump is a flawed candidate.

Vivek Vivaswamy:  The man refused to admit that climate change is real and does not support Ukraine or Israel, among other faux pas. He is young, yes, so perhaps that can be his excuse, but his pledge to pardon Trump was bad and most of what he said was fairly ignorant of the facts.

Nikki Haley got in a plea for abortion rulings being between a woman and her family and doctors and seemed

one of the saner members of the group.

So far, Christie and Haley and Hutchinson seemed the most stable. Pence seemed overly reliant on his religious convictions and also seemed very disgusted by the Indian candidate’s brash smile and ignorance of the facts. Hutchinson had some good moments. DeSantis seemed angry and defiant

We attempted to find out if the Trump interview was airing anywhere that it could be watched, but that did not seem to be the case. I went out on Twitter (now “X”) and looked around, but didn’t find much there except claims that Trump had put an end to Fox News, which is a debatable statement.

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

DeSantis is now talking about how he kept Florida’s schools open. He fails to mention that Florida had more deaths than any other state. He is now attacking critical race theory and gender education and sounds like an angry, opinionated Know-It-All.

The two quietest candidates are the Black candidate (Tim Scott) and the Governor of North Dakota, Ron Berglum.

Viviswamy is talking about ending teachers’ unions and re-establishing Civics as a subject everyone should have to pass. He’s now attacking the “epidemic of fatherlessness” and singing the praises of the nuclear family (shades of Ron Reagan).  Doug Burglum (Governor of North Dakota) is talking about education differing state by state, which seems apropos of nothing. He is now touting how he built a company from scratch. Also, that he grew up in a town of 300 people. Not sure how those two accomplishments make you the right candidate for President of the United States, but okay. He wants to get rid of the Department of Education.

The Lightning Round is on and Chris Christie just got the UFO question. It is causing some humor in the ranks.

There is a concerted effort to attack Teachers’ Unions, which seems ill-advised. Apparently, we underpaid teachers are the only group not deserving of representation in our jobs.

The Round-Up at the End:

 

Governor Ron Berglum:  blah, blah, blah. Nothing memorable.

Asa Hutchinson:  “The solution is new leadership that can bring bold ideas to America.” Citing Reagan. Critical of Trump.

Senator Tim Scott:  South Carolina Senator. Brought up “mired in poverty.” (used that phrase a lot), Talked about his mother working 16 hour days. Making accountability a thing. Wants Iowans to caucus for him.

Chris Christie:  “The only way that’s going to happen is if we beat Joe Biden.” Beat a Democratic incumbent.  Stands for the truth. 8 years in NJ as governor being cited. “I’m the one who can win this race and if you give me the chance, I will restore our country by winning it.”

Nikki Haley:  Mentioning her husband going off to war. (She is the former South Carolina Governor) “If they are willing to protect us from there, we should be able to protect us from here.” Pro law enforcement. Make sure we have an America that is strong and proud.

VP Mike Pence – Joe Biden has weakened America at home and abroad. Afghanistan. Energy. Border. “I know we can bring the nation back.” The GOP owes the American public a choice. “I have faith in the American people. God is not done with America yet.”

Vivek Ramaswamy – “We are really all just the same.” This is our moment to revive our national spirit. Pro fossil fuel. Nuclear family promotion. Pro Constitution, but doesn’t mention how pardoning Trump would be completely counter to that.

Ron DeSantis:  Ended fairly strong, but sounded angry.

During the “Hannity Live from the Spin Room in Wisconsin” Reince Preibus and Kelley Anne Conway held forth and basically praised Trump. Nobody wanted to address the elephant in the room (91 criminal indictments).  Hannity has just revealed that his mom was a prison guard. Why does this not surprise me? (He said his mom always thought he’d end up inside the prison; same comment).

Ramaswamy is now libeling and slandering both Joe and Hunter Biden in the spin room interview.  (Said they were “selling off” America to foreign countries, when evidence indicates that we have seen more of that from the 4 Trump years, with the sweet Saudi Arabia deal with Jared Kushner.)

Senator Tim Scott, talking to Hannity. Scott says he felt really good and wanted to tell people that America could do for them what it did for him. He is talking about 3 million new jobs, for reasons that are not clear, since he never mentioned this during the debate. He is supporting gas and coal, despite all of us sweltering in 115 degree heat because of the overuse of fossil fuel and global warming. Hannity is talking about the expense of a gallon of gas, rather than the fact that climate change brought on by fossil fuels has put us in a pot of hot water that is nearing the boiling point. Hannity is promoting the idea of the DOJ persecuting the likes of Trump. Scott says the first thing he would do is fire Merrick Garland. While I think that Merrick Garland has been entirely too wishy-washy and perhaps should be fired for that, he certainly is not responsible for the faltering confidence in the justice and in the Supreme Court. In fact, Merrick Garland should have been Obama’s appointment to the Supreme Court, but for Mitch McConnell’s campaign to keep Obama from being allowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice, like every other President in history.

 

 

 

Trump Is Ineligible to Be President, Say Legal Scholars

According to a recent publication by two Constitutional scholars, Donald J. Trump is ineligible to be President of the United States, because of the Constitutional prohibition under Section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from elected office who has “engaged in” or “given aid or comfort” to an “insurrection or rebellion.”

The scholars—William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas—argue in a law review article that Trump’s attempted coup d’etat “automatically” disqualifies him.  The scholars say that “every official, state or federal, who oversees elections has the authority to bar Trump from the ballot.

Baude and Paulsen are not Biden-loving partisans, according to Matt Ford in “The New Republic.” They belong to the Federalist Society, the powerful right wing organization that helped stock the Supreme Court with conservatives.

Section 3 addressed the problem of Southern states sending Confederate official to Washington D.C. after the Civil War.  The terms “insurrection” and “rebellion” should apply to “only the most serious of  uprisings against the government.”

Baude and Paulsen’s “powerfully argued” case reaches the “obvious conclusion” that Trump tried mightily in several extra-legal ways to overturn an election he had clearly lost.  Thus, he “engaged in insurrection and rebellion and gave aid and comfort to other who did the same.”

Legally, the argument is “very compelling,” said Zack Beauchamp in “Vox.” However, MAGA Republicans might well react with violence to a Supreme Court that might agree with Article 14, Section 3, making January 6th into a prelude to more disaster.

Republicans Died of Covid More Than Democrats, Say New Statistical Studies

Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis opposed Covid vaccinations, as a Conservative Republican and even, in one well-publicized bit of video, urged schoolchildren wearing masks to take them off.

Now, the statistics are out and they show that, in the wake of DeSantis reopening all bars and restaurants and schools, the Delta wave in July 2021 killed Florida residents at a much higher rate then it killed residents of other states. Florida has only 7% of the United States population, but accounted for 14% of the U.S. deaths.

Most of the 23,000 Floridians who died during those months were unvaccinated or did not complete a two-dose regimen. Nine thousand of those who died were younger than 65.

The facts above were reported in the August 4, 2023 “This Week” magazine.

On “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd this past Sunday, July 30th,  the Data Download portion of the program was about whether more people died in states that supported Trump or in states that supported Biden. The facts for “Meet the Press” were gathered both before the Covid vaccination was available and after it was available. The statistics mainly focused on Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio.

The statistics were gathered by a national group that has set about toting up the truth about whether or not being vaccinated was a “good” idea or a “bad” idea. We’ve all heard of the rare cardiac inflammation of some young men; the GOP really played those anomalies up, when they occurred (as they are likely to occur with any new drug). I have one staunchly Republican friend who is convinced that increases in breast cancer cases can all be laid at the feet of Covid vaccinations. (This is a stretch, Folks. And I would have a keen interest in such data.) We could perhaps all vote for RFK, Jr., who is convinced of many such vaccine conspiracies.

This week the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, published a study that supported a theory many had suspected: The pandemic didn’t hit all Americans the same — and Republicans, who lagged behind in accepting the Covid vaccine, paid a steeper price.

I scribbled furiously while old Chuck Todd was putting the figures up, so I simply wish to refer you to the link, itself, and let doubting GOP stalwarts read the JAMA (Journal of American Medicine) for yourselves. (If you don’t want to be vaccinated, yourselves, at least GET YOUR KIDS vaccinated. TYVM).

https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/data-download/uneven-toll-coronavirus-pandemic-rcna97107

The 2024 GOP Presidential Primary Race Is Getting Pricey

The 2024 presidential primary race is shaping up to be a pricey one.

According to the GOP Primary Ad Spending reports, Florida’s Governor Ron SeSantis is spending literally twice as much as Donald J. Trump, who is said to be the front-runner in polls.

DeSantis has committed $4.4 million dollars to the primary battle, versus Trump’s $2.2 million.

Other leaders in the race are represented as follows:

Senator Rick Scott:  $3.5 million

$3.5 million (PAC group)

Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota:  $2.6 million

Anti-Trump PAC:  $1.7 million.

Other candidates to oppose the Democratic candidate in 2024 include Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Vivek Ramaswamey and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Trump is not going to come to the Iowa gathering, probably because the organizer is an outspoken Trump opponent.

In New Hampshire, the spending is as follows:

Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota:  $2.8 million

Trump Super PAC:  $2 million

Senator Rick Scott:  $2 million

Senator Rick Scott Super PAC:  $1.9 million

Florida Governor Rick DeSantis Super Pac:  $1.3 million

In South Carolina, the DeSantis Super PAC is spending $3.7 million.

The Anti Trump forces are investing $1.7 million

In Nevada, the DeSantis Super PAC is spending %631,000.

So, as I sit here on the Illinois side of the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities, it looks like the state of Iowa will rake in big bucks and the primary campaign will cost roughly $20 million dollars.

The entire tactic of doing well in Iowa and using it as a launching pad for the nomination was pioneered by Jimmy Carter in 1974, when he began campaigning ahead of the 1976 presidential race. That was nearly 50 years ago.

In the wake of Watergate, 17 Democratic candidates came out of the woodwork to capitalize on the Ford pardon of Nixon and the stigma of Watergate.  Carter took an early lead in Iowa and New Hampshire despite having almost no national profile. He was able to secure the Democratic presidential nomination with close to 40% of his party’s primary vote. Ever since Jimmy Carter pioneered the technique of winning early in Iowa and New Hampshire, it has continued to be the path to victory.

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