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Friday, March 11, 2016

What I did last night when I could have been watching "How To Get Away With Murder"

I used to think Sammy Davis Jr groping President Nixon at the 1972 GOP Convention was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen out of Miami. Well, that and the Brooks Brothers Riot for W in 2000. But all that was before last night's debate:

The Washington Post has an annotated transcript, and God bless the stenos who tried to keep up with the word salad Donald Trump spewed. I’ve been listening to presidential debates forty years, man and boy, and this was the first to give me a headache.

John Kasich only has a plan for the first hundred days as president because after that- perhaps well before- he will have run through all his Nineties nostrums. He believes in repetition like a car dealer believes in Eyewitness News at 4, 5 6, and 11. He grew up in a blue collar family. If it wasn't for immigration he’d be running for president of Croatia, he claimed, and probably telling voters there how he fixed everything in the 1990s, after the Berlin Wall fell, which he helped make happen, I claim.

If other nations act badly in international trade, John Kasich has a whistle, and he will blow it.

“America needs to be able to lock its doors at night. Rising tide lifts all boats. First 100 days. Lower taxes. I’ve fixed it all before. 400,000 jobs.” Education? “All I’m in favor of is high standards, and that’s what I did in Cleveland with the Democrat mayor” (last time it was “the African-American Democrat mayor and the unions”, and buying out the experienced teachers to hire more with no experience who were keen to work cheaper). He wants to start tracking kids into vocational courses early: “real world jobs.” He wants to pour 125 federal programs into four buckets and send them to the states and local governments. A week ago it was 104.

John Kasich had a plan for Social Security reform in 1999 and he wants to give younger people personal accounts they can manage themselves, which means giving it to Wall Street (did John Kasich mention he was an executive at Lehman Bros after he fixed all of America’s problems the first time?). “I’ve done all this before; $8 billion hole, $2 billion surplus; credit rating; 400,000 jobs.”

Foreign policy? We need to not diss Muslims. We need them to go fight ISIS for us and not be offended when President Kasich welcomes them to “the civilized world we represent.” What’s more, we need a “reapproach-mont” with Turkey. The Palestinians are digging tunnels into Israel. We gave the Israelis technology to block missiles. Now we need to give them our best mole-defeating lawn care secrets. “18 years defense committee. 9/11, in the Pentagon helping SecDef with his problems.”

John Kasich wants to cut off investment to Cuba until they promise to do whatever we tell them, like before 1958. We need to build a statue to the guy who faced down the tank in China in 1989, and that will tell China to straighten up double quick.

John Kasich wants universal free health care, guaranteed employment, and housing for every American, except all the ones who aren't veterans. We can drive wages up, which is good, but not by raising the minimum wage, which is bad, and that is what he thinks about violence at political rallies.

John Kasich had some new ideas about energy. Climate change is something that is happening some way but not such that we need to stop burning coal and piling up vast lakes of radioactive waste with nowhere to put it, but we should also have renewable energy.

Last thoughts: John Kasich says he will end to find some “responsible Democrats” to pass Social Security reform.

“Dead man walking,” the pundits say about Marco Rubio in his home state. Hugh Hewitt, the right-wing radio host (who ripped on Obama in 2008 for having a band called The New Decemberists” play at his Portland, Oregon rally, because of the Leninist associations the name conjured up) looked as much like an animatronic waxwork borrowed from Disney World’s Hall of Broadcasters as in his previous debate outings. I was impressed for about 64 minutes. Rubio slowed his speaking pace. He said some things that were sensible and not just memorized.

Well, of course, that all went to hell, but don’t let me get ahead of myself.

Marco Rubio is for free trade but only good free trade for us and screw the other nations because if they charge as much as he will to keep their goods out of here then we can't get our goods into there.  Good free trade is like the deal that made it possible for the Colombian flower industry to deliver lots of tasteful and cheap arrangements in Miami, creating “millions- hundreds of jobs.”

Marco Rubio had a good patch when he took on Donald Trump’s jabber about how every Muslim but the really great ones he knows hates America and wants to murder us all. Rubio pointed out that when one is president, words have consequences, even though, for his example, he pantingly pandered to evangelicals with a tale of American religious missionaries in Bangladesh who feel less safe these days. He pointed out one sees plenty of crescent moons on headstones in American military cemeteries, and anyone willing to wear the uniform, fight the wars, and die for this country, loves it. Period. He rebutted Trump’s claim that he was being honest, not politically correct, answering that he, Rubio, wasn’t concerned about being politically correct. He was concerned about being correct.

Damn, I thought. Where has he been? We got a glimpse of a real Rubio, not just a rube.

But it passed, and in a sec he was claiming we have the best military in the world but it’s no good because Obama has deliberately gutted it. We have the smallest military since World War II, he fretted. Well, duh! We haven't really needed twelve million men under arms since then, have we? And the air force the smallest since 1916- shortly after the Signal Corps bought one airplane?

There was a long desiderata over Israel and the Middle East, and I am skipping it because that is nothing but a pig wallow for demagogues. Marco Rubio indulged a little local dog whistle talk in a play for orthodox and conservative Jewish votes, talking about “Judea and Samaria.” Ted Cruz- busy making sure there was no breath mint in the corner of his mouth- missed a bet not reminding people how he will move the US embassy to Jerusalem just after he rescinds all the Obama executive orders and before he tears the Iran deal to shreds. Or maybe he did. I had to go pee. I can say things like that during a Republican debate. Everything was just fine down there, I promise you.

Marco Rubio says everything bad in Cuba is still bad after fifty years of a policy that didn't make it a bit un-badder, so we should stop talking to the Cubans and come home and go back to the policy that doesn’t work but is beloved by many elderly voters of Dade County.

Well, friends, then Marcomentum turned into Marcomeltdown at 10.18 pm. Asked if the Republican mayor of Miami- who has endorsed him- is wrong asking what the GOPsters plan to do about climate change as his city slowly sinks (new slogan- “the Venice of the Caribbean”?) Rubio snarked that of course the climate is changing. The climate is always changing. He stopped for the applause but got a growing wave of laughter from the audience. And we do something to weather by living in it but we can’t stop it except to send billions to places that flood for mitigation (unless it's the northeast and there’s a hurricane). In two consecutive sentences he complained of bureaucrats in Washington “forcing down our throat” their malign plans to kill the economy to bid the weather change, and then that they have already “rammed down our throat” said plans.

Anyway, he said, it won’t work because “America isn’t a planet. It’s a country.” And China will just go on polluting. And so will India.” You could tell the chips were overheating because he started talking really fast again. And he attacked Disney, throwing in a bit o’ mansplainin’, Loooocy: “What I’m 'splaining to you is…”

Marco Rubio let his cooling fans run for a couple of rounds of questions and then, asked if he was concerned about the violence at Trump rallies and the things Trump says to encourage it, said he is concerned about violence everywhere, but mostly when it happens to police officers, and it’s the fault of every major institution in America. They have been failing us for twenty-thirty years, he said.

He never really got back on track. Marco Rubio ran on backup power the rest of the debate, announcing that he embodies everything that is great about America to an elderly man who defies doctor’s orders to rest after surgery and sits outside an early polling station waving a Marco Rubio sign and this is what keeps him running his zombie race to nowhere. Oh, and you can be flexible about ideas but not principles. I’m not going to try to parse that.

Ted God, the nightmare won't end, and we aren’t even to The Donald yet.

Ted Cruz climbed into a pair of big boy pants Jeb! left behind in Greenville at the Warmongers at the Peace Center Debate, and tried to play Ward Cleaver. His shorthand for every issue is a detailed, sometimes very detailed, plan on his website. Just go and see. But to see his plans you have to fling open your computer like a Shanghai whore giving a group rate to the entire Chinese Army’s internet hacking regiment, so he can feed his giant database digesting machine.  He cheesepared how he was against the TPA- one trade agreement, before he was for the TPP- its companion agreement. He’s worried that service industries like Goldman Sachs will be hurt by free trade, and that might hamper his revolving line of campaign loans through his wife’s job. Not to mention her health care coverage. He explained his protectionist trade policies as being just the opposite, and Ferris Bueller fans were doubtless thrilled to hear the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act explained. “The question is, what is the solution?” Cruz intoned, and it would have been sweet if he had just left us to ponder that.

But no. He is going to cut off federal funds to cities that give sanctuary to sanctuary movements, and deny illegals welfare (him, not the cities). In between the illegal unconstitutional regs repeal, and the tearing up of the Iran deal into tiny little shreds, he is going to tell the Department of Education to eliminate Common Core, and then he is going to eliminate the Department of Education so they can’t change their minds. Ted Cruz is for every form of education except public schools. It's a fast, easy way to resegregate.

He wants to bribe old people to vote for him by promising not to do anything about Social Security until Florida gives him a second term. Young people, well, you’ll find out what happens to your retirement later, and it 'll be good for you because you will have more freedom and less job-killing bureaucrats killing your jobs when you're ready to retire and find out you can’t, and so need a new job. Ted Cruz, who channels Joe McCarthy in so many ways, has a list of the job-killing bureaucrats, and he is going to find them and fire them.

Ted Cruz, who longs to make the sand glow in the Middle East (hands tied behind their backs, Bush 1 major air strikes, Obama’s pussy drones dropping M-80s three times a week), oddly, considers Trump’s language about how all the Muslims hate us, every one, “incendiary.” In a Whitmanesque moment of displaying his contradictory internal multitudes, he embraced US support of liberal democracy in Israel and totalitarian military rulers in Egypt. He hearts both. He finessed calling for Bush War III himself by saying he will do whatever the generals tell him is necessary to defeat ISIS. More glowing sand. Billions given to Iran, and all their own money, unfrozen? WTF? Cut off Cuba again: listening, Dade County?

At 10.15 everybody started feeling the burn, I guess, and started getting snarky. Ted Cruz started snarking Trump. Marco Rubio’s circuit boards started sizzling. Ted Cruz says the violence at Trump rallies is Obama’s fault. Obama was barely in office when he sent “the Churchill bust back to England” and then went on an apology tour, and so no one trusts us anymore. This is seriously dumbass talk, and shows that Ted Cruz can memorize lines as well as Rubio. Here’s what he said in Iowa January 25: “One of the very first acts President Obama did upon being elected was sending Churchill’s bust back to the UK, and I think that foreshadowed everything that was to come the next six years.” The Washington Post has a debunking of this bilious nonsense. You could look it up. Anyway, the gist of this was to lead into Ted Cruz's Wayback Machine soundbite about how Jimmy Carter was followed by Ronald Reagan and he will follow Damn Obama as the new Ronald Reagan, and that’s why Little Felito did so well on his SAT’s analogies module.

Maths isn’t so good with the Cruz, which is why I will gloss over how he argued Trump has a hundred more delegates and has won 13 primaries to his eight but Cruz is gonna win. He has the shrewish Carly Fiorina dragging her 1.2397% of GOP voters and her cache of imaginary abortion tapes to his side. And Senator Mike Lee, who is the only senator who will eat lunch with Cruz in public. That’s how, he said. Trump reminded everyone he has Mike Tyson and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who will star in the Trump remake of A Touch of Evil.

No right-handed salutes are being demanded by the sententious Ted: he wants to pledge to the people, not like Damn Obama (“for the last seven years, blah blah”). The only right-hand raising he wants to do is on January 20, 2017 with his left hand on the Bible, taking the oath to turn America into a theocracy. He is willing to consider making Donald Trump “president” of the Smithsonian, and where that came from, God knows, but he hasn't revealed it to Ted Cruz's dad yet.

And so to The Kindler, Gentler Donald Trump. He did a good job for about seventy minutes. Measured tones, no sneering, no insults, no interrupting and shouting down.

Otherwise, it was the same old Trump Tourette’s Syndrome in full bark. China and Japan, devaluing currencies. America losing everywhere. Bad deals. Terrible deals. Iran worse deal ever. Israel, peace, hardest deal ever but I can do it, and if I can’t, well we will see what happens.

I can cure the corruption in America because I am the most corrupt candidate here. HB1 visas are terrible for American workers and I use them all the time; I should feel sorry, but it’s the law, and I have to do it. OK, so Common Core was developed by states and local school boards like I said it wasn't, but then Washington took it back and turned it into the biggest bad thing. I know this because I spent an hour with Ben Carson and he’s gonna endorse me tomorrow, and he’s really got a handle on this education thing, and there’s a big role for him and it’s gonna be great. There is “such an outpouring of love for my campaign” and the only thing I am different on from all the Republicans is trade (China, Japan, currency devalues, bad deals, terrible deals). We need to let local school groups decide what they want to teach (I so wanted someone to ask about Woodland, NC, where a retired teacher testified against a solar panel array because it would suck up all the rest of the sunlight and the plants would die and she’d suffocate, but my hopes were in vain).

There is so much waste fraud and abuse in government, when I get through getting rid of it, Donald Trump says, and making America rich again, and bringing home jobs and ending deficits, and doing “things” to raise the GDP, well, we won’t need to change Social Security. Never mind that fixing payment errors in Medicare will only reduce the future funding gap by $3 billion out of $150 billion. 22 years is a long way off, and it’s gonna be great. We need a military even more yuuge than it is already but we need to make deals so that we don’t display it anywhere. The Germans, the South Koreans, I used to think Merkel was strong but now she’s terrible, and we’re gonna make new deals and bring the money home.

In addition to knowing how to play the corrupt immigration system better than anyone, Donald Trump knows who to play the currency manipulation game better, too. He will run America like his companies.

Donald Trump says his 45% tariff on American companies shipping product in from overseas plants will not be real, just a suggestion, but if they don’t take the suggestion it will be real. And if that means no more Carrier AC units, someone will build a factory and, after years of patient misery as the weather gets hot, because weather changes all the time, a grateful and stinking American public will shell out for American air conditioning using only American air. None of this will apply to his clothing lines or campaign hatters.

Oh, that stuff about killing terrorist families? We have all these damn laws, and we have to follow them. After we rewrite them to make them bigger, we can do all the stuff the terrorists do. They don’t have any laws. And Cuba. We need to stop that. We made a bad deal and now the deal is done, they will sue us for $400 billion or a trillion for things we did to them. I read it in a newspaper the other day. We always lose on these deals.

Donald Trump says when he says the things China does to repress democracy movements, and the stuff Putin does because Putin are the marks of “strong leaders” he isn’t using the term in a good way or a bad way, just a fact-y way. He says people who come to his rallies are angry, filled with passion over higher taxes, and lost jobs and love of country and as they flock to him in their millions these passions can be expressed best by beating up black people. “We have problem people, some bad dudes who come to my rallies, you know, we’re talking 25,000, yuuge crowds. It’s not me.” It’s the local cops who do these things, and they deserve more respect. Like a Nazi salute? No, that was just fun. We have more fun at my rallies. That’s why more people come to them than to Ted’s.

Donald Trump was getting tired and started mocking Ted Cruz in a sing-song voice about how he is the only one who can take down The Donald but can’t actually do it.  He said if he has the most votes but not a majority in Cleveland he should win. He hasn't decided whether to self- fund a general election campaign. People press money on him. $275 mil, at least, he’s turned down. And like currency manipulations and visa scams, he can fix campaign finance because he has bought more pols, for more money, over a longer period than anyone. "And everyone loved me."

I skipped the closing speeches. I don’t think a shower will help this time. I need to go through the entire decontamination protocol in The Andromeda Strain. This debate was a cesspit. Big noxious bubbles popping throughout. Methane. Abolish the EPA.

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