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Observations on the Big GOP Debate Night

8-3-fs-pics-of-17-republican-presidential-candiates

Just my two cents on some of the major participants and what it all means for the 2016 election:

Ohio Governor John Kasich: 

This guy has got to be Hillary Clinton’s biggest nightmare.  Comfortable in his conservative beliefs but tolerant of those who differ; compassionate in his views about helping those in need.  Very strong moment for many moderates and independents, I think, when asked about his opposition to same-sex marriage and he said that, hey, he’s an old fashioned guy but how would he respond if one of his kids came out?  He’d love them.  Good answer!

Unapologetic about increasing Medicare subsidies in Ohio, he sounded a compassionate conservative theme I haven’t heard from a Republican in a long, long time.   He also has a smart political team.  The timing of his Presidential announcement gave him the precise buzz and bump he needed to get into the big 9 pm debate.   One of his major slogans right now to GOP voters is- “No Republican has ever been elected President without winning Ohio.  Ever.”

He also fills the “regular guy” role that was supposed to be Scott Walker’s specialty.   I honestly think Hillary Clinton beats every single GOP contender on that stage- except John Kasich.   The math gets really difficult for Dems without Ohio.

Brilliant move by Kasich to say Trump is touching a nerve with many and not belittling him.  Not only does he get Trump’s supporters at a later date but if Kasich gets the nomination, Trump will remember the kindness and maybe doesn’t launch the 3rd party bid.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio:

Pretty solid performance.  Really liked his take on the immigration issue when he pointed out the real problem no one talks about- the horrible, inane government bureaucracy that is so inept it turns immigrants who want to be law-abiding into criminals when they give up after waiting for years and years and end up sneaking in.   Rubio’s youth and energy could be a real contrast to Hillary the Grandmother.  And Dems like to win Florida too, and he wouldn’t be making that an easy task.   Not sure he currently has the Presidential demeanor.   I see Kasich as a Commander in Chief way before I picture Rubio.  But if the country really wants change- he’s an attractive, next generation alternative.

Donald Trump and Roger Ailes:

The Fox News President, I’m guessing, did his best to end Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination and probably succeeded with the first two questions that were asked in the debate.  Knowing full well what Trump’s response would be, the first question asked of “all” the candidates was to raise their hand if they would be willing to bolt the GOP and run as a 3rd party candidate.  Trump obliged, proving definitively, that he really does not give a rat’s ass what anybody thinks of him.  He is not a panderer.

Then Megyn Kelly asked about his insulting tweets about women.  Then Chris Wallace asked about his four Casino bankruptcies.

Was he diminished?  I think for some Republicans, the ones who care about the party, the luster has come off of the Trump infatuation.  But for many conservatives and for politically pissed-off people who don’t particularly care about the Republican party- he maintains and even gains a little.

Unless the post-debate Fox news panel with 21 Fox-selected participants reflects reality.  Fourteen of them went into the debate liking Trump only 3 remained loyal by the end of it.  They called him mean and selfish and bombastic.  And then later, a lot of Fox News analysts also were highly critical of Trump’s performance.   This is not subtle.  The Trump people are picking up on the conspiracy vibe.

Trump organization Executive VP and special counsel, Michael Cohen tweets the following:

A total setup by @FrankLuntz and #FOXNEWSDEBATE to try to lower #Trump2016 high poll numbers. American people will not fall for your tricks.

Are we on the verge of a Trump–Ailes war?  Because right now, it’s looking like the Donald walked into a gigantic trap.

Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker

He was sharp and well spoken.  He’s clearly crammed his little heart out on foreign policy.  He’s a guy with a family and a Harley.  He does “regular guy” very well.  He has certainly been consistently dissed and underestimated and just wipes out his opponents in every election he’s ever been in.  He’ll end up being a force to be reckoned with.  But I don’t think Kasich plays “regular guy.”  He actually is one and is a much more experienced political hand with a superior political operation.

Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush

Meh.  No flubs.  Selling himself as the voice of reason.  Dealt smartly with Trump and didn’t get into the mud in any way.  Stuck to his talking points on his accomplishments as Governor.  I don’t feel it for the third Bush.

New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie

He was pretty solid and articulate but kind of transparent in regard to his strategy of goading one of the other candidates into a brawl and so it was Rand Paul he chose to target.  I thought Paul held his own in the fiery debate between the two on the issue of national security versus privacy rights.  Christie came off tough alright.  Unfortunately for him, that mantle’s been taken by Donald Trump.  In the battle of the bullies, Christie gets Trumped.

Kentucky Senator, Ron Paul

His brand has been deeply tarnished over the months but I thought he put on a decent debate performance.  His libertarian views were pretty clear and consistent and he resisted pandering.

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee

What ever happened to the happy warrior who tells jokes and plays bass with rock n’ roll bands?  He seems so angry these days.  “Get off my lawn” kind of angry.  He stayed away from oven analogies- a wise choice.  He had a staged joke at the end criticizing a candidate that sounded like it was going to be Trump and it ended up being Hillary.  The Fox News hosts thought this was really funny.

Dr. Ben Carson

No surprises. Didn’t get much air time and stood his ground about it.  Fairly funny staged joke at the end saying that as a neurosurgeon there are things he’s done no one else on the stage has- like separate Siamese twins and operate on people with a half a brain which he compared to the half-brains in Washington.

Texas Senator, Ted Cruz

Got seriously short-changed on air time and answered every single question precisely as you would expect him to- extreme hard right.  It struck me that as the champion college debater he was, Cruz would be killer in a more traditional and structured debate setting.  But this was not that.  This is the age of Trump and politics as reality television.  This is the age of 17 candidates and not enough time for any of them, really.

Former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina

Voted Most Likely to Succeed in Leaving the Kid’s Table and Moving Up to the Adult Table for the next debate.   It seems to be very important to the Republican party that there be a woman who criticizes Hillary Clinton non-stop and either the rules will be changed or the good press she got will put her into the top 10, but she WILL be in the next debate with the top folks.  She’s also looking very Vice Presidential to me.   Kasich-Fiorina.

You got some work ahead of you, Hil.

The Donald Trump Presidential Debate: Victory for Entertainment

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment


It will have entertainment value. It will be a plus for the ION cable network few people have ever heard of. It’s a real plus for Newsmax, the conservative magazine and web site which is sponsoring the December 27th debate and is now getting lots and lots of media attention. It will, however, feature fewer candidates because at least so far, two of them are appalled at the prospect of Donald Trump moderating a presidential debate.

Here’s what’s odd about the whole thing. Donald Trump has indicated, somewhere down the road, he will be endorsing one of the candidates, making this debate a de facto audition before The Donald. And he’s also said that if he ends up not liking any of them he may run as an independent candidate himself, which would theoretically only hurt the Republican party in a general election. So what we have here in this Trump debate, basically, is a slightly longer version of the decision scenes at the end of Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice shows.

The head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, says he doesn’t have a dog in this fight. “It’s up to the candidates, I mean, I don’t make those decisions.”

Former Bush political advisor and unofficial spokesperson for the “establishment” wing of the GOP, Karl Rove, does have an opinion- a strong opinion expressed on Fox News’ morning show today:

So should a guy who’s going to endorse be the ‘impartial’ moderator of a debate? I think the Republican National chairman ought to step in and say we strongly discourage every candidate from appearing in a debate moderated by somebody who’s going to run for president…

This is no unimportant debate, by the way. Coming on December 27th, it’s the last debate before Iowa voters do their caucus thing on Tuesday, January 3rd.

Ron Paul’s people call the whole thing a circus:

“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity.

Former Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman will not participate either. Nor is he partaking in the ritual of candidates flying to Manhattan for an audience with Trump. He tells Fox News:

I’m not going to kiss his ring, and I’m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy.

And what is the value of a Trump endorsement anyway? Here’s a National Review Online article about a September poll from Fox News that finds that getting the nod from The Donald is akin to getting a kiss from Mafia don just before you go swimming with the fishes:

While 10 percent of Republicans are more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Trump, 18 percent are less likely to do so. (Seventy-one percent don’t care.) But if you poll all voters, 31 percent say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Trump while only 6 percent would be more likely.

You’d think GOP candidates would be staying far, far away from Trump. You’d think. But new Republican frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, heads to the Big Apple today for his Trump photo-op (previous visitors count Rick Perry, Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney). And Newt is the first candidate to confirm participation in the Newsmax/Trump debate. As he puts it:

I would want to go just for the entertainment value.

It’s not like there are any important issues to discuss or contemplate. Let’s get back to some of the tried and true Donald Trump oldies but goodies like the President’s phony birth certificates and college grades, and how we should bomb Iran and steal Libya’s oil. After all, that’s what’s been lacking in the campaign so far: seriousness.

Moving Mayhem- Dust Bunnies & Memories


I took a few days to relocate within the DC area over the weekend, moving from Chinatown to Arlington- my 8th relocation in 10 years and I’ve pretty much had it with this process. I mean how many times in one day can you possibly forget where you put your keys and your cell phone?

One of the fun things about apartment renting is always the exit; the pre-inspection inspection and then the actual inspection inspection. Everything was good for the pre-inspection inspection as there was still furniture. Post-move, I’ve never seen so many dust bunnies packed into 900 square feet; how does that happen? Thanks to Jiffy Maids, I’ll yet retain my dignity.

And I got indirectly serenaded during my last night in Chinatown. It was the final night of Police Week in Washington and law enforcement people from every corner of the country had gathered for various observances, ceremonies and, apparently-parties. No doubt, for this one week, I lived on the safest block in America. I’ve never seen so many cops in one place.

Saturday night- they blew it out big time. It was actually 2am Sunday, and I couldn’t sleep anyway, but the unmistakable strains of bag pipes permeated the whole neighborhood. It was, in fact, one of the nicest renditions of Amazing Grace I’ve ever heard on bag pipes. And when the guy finished, you could hear the inebriated roar of a crowd that must have counted 200. Extremely inspiring.

Ah, Chinatown- I’ll miss you, you big lug. Over my year and a half living next to the Verizon Center and overlooking an alley next to one of the most raucous clubs in DC, I’ve heard everything from knife-fights and arrests to blaring car horns after every Caps home-playoff victory (that would be 4 times over two years). I’ll miss Chinatown Express; the best, greasiest Chinese food ever. That’s the restaurant with the guys in the windows making noodles next to the hanging dead ducks and chickens.

While I entered the great moving vortex, I see I missed some important current events. They found Osama bin Laden’s “huge” stash of porn and I just learned Donald Trump has decided not to run for President. Smart move, Donald. And as for Osama- who knew the world’s #1 terrorist was pretty much a hypocritical, dirty old man? Nice legacy, bin Laden.

So all is right with the world, I’m moved in- I have cable and access to the world wide web. On to the boxes.

The Least Racist Man in America

“I am the least racist person there is.” Donald Trump today on Fox News Channel’s morning show. Admirably clever sentence, but honestly, at this point, I highly recommend some media training might be in order.

And it might go something like this:

Media consultant: So Mr. Trump, I understand people have been unfairly labeling you as a racist.

Donald Trump: It’s the damndest thing. I don’t understand it. I have a great relationship with the blacks, as a matter of fact….

Media consultant: W-w-ait, one second, sir. Did, did, you just say “the blacks?” You haven’t actually said that in public have you?

Donald Trump: Sure did. Went on a radio show a couple of weeks ago-and it’s true, I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.

Media consultant: I see. I would suggest a slightly different turn of phrase, perhaps something more like, “I’ve always had a great relationship with the black community.”

Donald Trump: Hey, that’s good. The blacks do kind of have their own little community. Yeah, I like that.

Media consultant: Are there other things you’ve said in the media on the subject of race relations?

Donald Trump: Oh yeah. I was on with Fox and Friends this morning. I have my own little corner of the show. I told them the truth too. Told them I was the least racist person there is.

Media consultant: You used the word, “least,” did you? May I recommend an outright denial? Something like: “I am NOT racist.” “Least” racist sort of implies everyone in America is a racist and that of all the racists; you are the most tolerant of them. It’s kind of a mixed message.

Donald Trump: Huh.

Media consultant: What else did you say on this Fox and Friends show?

Donald Trump: Here’s the beauty part. Complete total proof I am the least racist person, ever. Randal Pinkett won, as you know, on The Apprentice a little while ago, a couple of years ago. And Randall’s been outstanding in every way. So I am the least racist person.

Media consultant: You said that? And Mr. Pinkett is an African-American?

Donald Trump: Oh yeah. He’s one of the blacks I know.

Media consultant: I see. What do you think started this whole racism thing?

Donald Trump: It started about the same time I asked the President of the United States to provide a birth certificate to prove he’s one of us- you know, American.

Media consultant: Why would you do that? Didn’t the White House already post his birth certificate some three years ago?

Donald Trump: That was a short-form certificate of live birth. Not the same thing as a long-form certificate. But I am very proud of myself. I made the President produce his birth certificate…the real one.

Media consultant: So the birth certificate matter is over for you?

Donald Trump: Well, yeah. But now there’s the matter of the college records I want released. I hear the President was a lousy student and no one really knows how he got into Harvard.

Media consultant: Mr. Trump, at this point let me offer some historical background. There was a time in this country when people of color, had to offer certain proof of things that others didn’t. Like that they were smart enough to do things like- vote. Sometimes they were made to take literacy tests. Others, to this day- people who look a little different than the rest of us, are asked for certain papers to prove they’re actually U.S. citizens. There’s a certain historical sensitivity about minority individuals having to provide extra proof about things.

Donald Trump: Damn. These are great ideas.

Media consultant: Some may take it wrongly or out of context, that you’re implying the President got academic opportunities other didn’t, just because he’s African-American.

Donald Trump: Yeah, well….in my family, the way it’s done is you, like, buy a college a library or a gym or something like that. Two, two and half a million dollars in a “charitable contribution” can go a long way, you know. It’s not fair people can get into colleges without making extra donations, if you know what I mean.

Media consultant: Well is that it?

Donald Trump: Yeah, well, there’s the basketball thing.

Media consultant: The basketball thing?

Donald Trump: Yeah, I said that with people really hurting in this economy, while they’re paying four dollars a gallon for gas, maybe the President ought to spend a little less time on the basketball court.

Media consultant: You didn’t.

Donald Trump: And on my Celebrity Apprentice show last night….I don’t know how this happened…but I ended up firing two black people, Star Jones and LaToya Jackson. And a third one quit, that woman with Housewives of Atlanta, or whatever it’s called. But there’s still one left!

Media consultant: One what?

Donald Trump: One of the blacks. One of the blacks is left- the little rapper guy.

Media consultant: Mr. Trump, it really has been nice meeting you. At this point, I’m going to turn you over to someone else in our PR firm- someone who specializes in damage control….you know, containing issues that could be publicly embarrassing.

Donald Trump: Damage control? Did I damage something? What? Did I embarrass somebody?

Notes and disclaimers: Though many of the Donald Trump quotes are actual responses to questions he’s given over the past month or so, some of these are purely fictional. He has not come out in support of literacy tests for voting purposes and I have no idea how Trump got into the Wharton school, though his son-in-law was admitted to an Ivy League university shortly after a $2.5 million donation from his father. It’s outlined in detail in the book, The Price of Admission , by Wall Street Journal education writer, Daniel Golden.

Donald Trump & Birth Certificates

March 29, 2011 1 comment

Donald Trump says it took him all of a half hour to find his own birth certificate. Maybe he should have taken the less than 15 minutes it took for me to find Barack Obama’s.

Politically, I understand why Mr. Trump is putting his celebrity stamp on the “birther” cause; appearing on one TV talk show after another as if it was 2008 and he just discovered a huge conspiracy.  Factually, it’s disingenuous. This has been settled for more than three years now.

We’ll leave aside the point that The Donald’s birth certificate comes nowhere near the standards being demanded of the President’s proof of birth. Trump does not provide a legally legitimate birth certificate and perhaps that’s why it took him less than an hour to get it. He has a copy that was sent to him by his hospital- it has no seal, it is not even an official copy- and it is simply not a legal document in any way, shape or form.

Here, however, is Barack Obama’s legal birth certificate. And you can link to it yourself here.

In a rush to release the documentation in 2008 to counter the rumors about a missing certificate, the Obama campaign staff intially redacted the certificate number as explained by then spokesman, Shauna Daly: “[We] couldn’t get someone on the phone in Hawaii to tell us whether the number represented some secret information, and we erred on the side of blacking it out. Since then we’ve found out it’s pretty irrelevant for the outside world.” The actual certificate on file in Hawaii has the certficate number and a picture of it is below.

Here is a picture of Factcheck.org’s, Joe Miller, actually holding the document in his own hands:

This is the signature stamp from the official with the state of Hawaii who authenticated in 2007 that this was a legal copy of the birth certificate:

This is a picture of the raised seal on the back of the birth certificate that further authenticates it:

This is the legal certificate number on the document that also authenticates it:

This is a copy of the birth announcement published in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper on Sunday, August 13, 1961:

All of the above items are what the Department of State says is needed as proof of American citizenship. Case closed.

—————————————————————–

I once had to come up with my legal birth certificate in the process of settling my mother’s estate about ten years ago. I had a copy of it, mind you, but that is not a legal document. I had to go through the state of New York, provide notarized proof of my legal identity, and then wait for about three weeks. They give you an authenticated copy because the actual original lives in a vault somewhere.

So it came in the mail and I’ll never forget it because of the postmark on the envelope: September 11, 2001. That’s right. The New York City Health Department, on the day it was beginning to handle hundreds and hundreds of death certificates for the victims of 9/11, had somehow found the time to send me the legal copy of the document authenticating my birth.

There is one thing that deeply disturbs me about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. It indicates that for the first time in my life- a President of the United States is younger than me.

Now, that hurts.

Update:  Donald Trump has located his legal birth certificate and his red-faced staff is now distributing it everywhere.

Koran-Burning Off and the Circus Continues

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Rev. Terry Jones (left), Goose Gossage (right)

This is getting too weird for me.  The Rev. Terry Jones has called off his Koran book-burning claiming that the Imam in NY planning on building an Islamic Community Center/Mosque near Ground Zero has decided to stop the controversial construction project.  The Rev is flying to NYC to meet him, even.

And now Donald Trump is getting involved.  He’s offering to buy the so-called Ground Zero Community Center/Mosque property for 20% over its going price so the Imam can claim a tidy profit and move on.

First of all, I don’t believe the Rev. Terry Jones.  I seriously doubt the New York Imam has cancelled his project.  Second of all, I’m not sure the Reverend is even going to successfully board an airplane if he doesn’t remember to stop wearing his side arms.  And third of all, if you see the picture above, it’s entirely possible he could get arrested for attempting to impersonate former New York Yankee relief pitcher, Goose Gossage.

As for The Donald- there is nothing more attractive than a publicity-starved mogul taking it upon himself to save America from inappropriate displays of religious freedom.  His sincerity and love for America deeply touches my heart as does his evident philosophy that money “trumps” the 1st amendment each and every time.

And in keeping with that notion:

Dear Mr. Trump,

For $1,275,334, I will discontinue this blog immediately.

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LATE UPDATE: There is no deal to call off the so-called Ground Zero Community Center/Mosque project.

Here’s the official word:

New York, NY, September 9, 2010: Sharif El-Gamal, Developer of Park51, issued this statement today in response to media reports on the movement of the Park51 community center.

“It is untrue that the community center known as Park51 in lower Manhattan is being moved. The project will proceed as planned. What is being reported in the media today is a falsehood.”

About Park51: Park51 is a nonsectarian community, cultural and interfaith spiritual center along with a Muslim prayer area and a monument to honor all those we lost on 9/11. Park51 enriches lower Manhattan in body and spirit, with ecologically conscious design and operation. Our goals are pluralism, service, arts and culture, health and healing. A group of downtown Muslim-Americans envisioned a sanctuary where everyone is welcome to learn, experience the arts and culture and explore their relationship to faith. In the near future, Park51 will offer green, world-class recreational and educational facilities, and a friendly and accessible platform for conversations across our identities.

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