Monthly Archives: May 2015

Lincoln-Douglas Debates Redux

I just finished reading the original Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. Both were running for the Illinois Senate seat. Douglas was the incumbent.  The debates half the time centered on the key issues of the day and half the time were used to attack the opponent as corrupt or dishonest.

Still, they discussed their different philosophies about slavery, the Dred Scott decision, the Missouri Compromise, the Wilmot Proviso, the Mexican War, the Fugitive Slave Act and the Nebraska question. As well as the original intention of the “founding fathers” regarding the spread of slavery. Heady issues of the times.

What was most fascinating, though, was the format. No “moderators”. No “gotcha” questions”. Just a timekeeper. Over the course of the seven debates the format was the same. One candidate was given a full hour to speak. His opponent was given one and a half hours for rebuttal. Then the first candidate was given half an hour to respond. Three hours total. Over the course of the debates Lincoln and Douglas each had ten and a half  hours to explain their philosophies and positions on the great issues of the day.

I wonder what a Lincoln-Douglas debate, using today’s typical format and analysis, would look like. Here goes.

Moderator: Welcome to the first and only debate between “Honest Abe” Lincoln and the “Judge”, Stephen A Douglas. This debate is sponsored by the FauxNews/ABC/CBS/MSNBC/ESPN/Hollywood/Shopping Channel consortium.  The format is as follows. Each candidate will get 30 seconds to answer a question, then his opponent will get a 30 second rebuttal. We hope to delve into the important Constitutional, social, economic, social and political issues of the day.

Moderator: First question to “Honest Abe”. Mr Lincoln, isn’t it true that you slept with a man for many years . Doesn’t this imply that you support gay marriage.

Lincoln: Well, while it may be true that I did sleep in the same bed as a fellow for a while, let me put that in context. At the time many young men without means rented cheap rooms at boardinghouses and shared accommodations as a matter of economic necessity.  This in no way….(BUZZER)

Moderator: Your time is up. Now, to the “Judge”. Senator Douglas. What do you think of Mr Lincoln’s support for homosexuality and gay marriage.

Douglas: First, let me thank the press and the fine audience here. I see many supporters and some detractors. I hope you will give both Mr Lincoln and I the courtesy of listening carefully to our arguments and positions. Now, regarding Mr Lincoln and…(BUZZER).

Moderator: Your time is up. Next question for the “Judge”. Senator Douglas, Kim Kardashian has recently called both you and Mr Lincoln racists. What is your response?

Douglas: Well, I don’t know who this particular person is (LOUD GASPS from the audience) but I have always said that the United States was formed by white men and for white men. If that makes me a racist, so be it. Any white man today would hold the same opinion.Furthermore…(BUZZER)

Moderator: Abe. Your response?

Lincoln: I am afraid that you have me at a disadvantage, sir. Like my friend the Judge, I have no idea what news organization this Mr Kardashian works for (more LOUD GASPS from the audience, and chuckles of disbelief from the moderator). I have always held that the Negro is a human being, but is , of course, inferior to the white man in every way. However, let me add…(BUZZER).

Moderator: Well, there you have it, the only debate between Lincoln and Douglas . Fascinating stuff. Now , to our analysts, Huck and Sarah. Tell us who won?

Sarah: You betcha I will. First, old Abe. A catastrophe. I don’t know who did his makeup but those ugly lines and big nose? Give me a break. His suit was way too small. His looks like a big ape . Gangly and awkward. Definitely not going anywhere in politics.  Judge Douglas. Well. Here cums da judge. Here comes da judge. Hahahaha. Dressed to a “T”. Great suit. Great tie. I would only suggest he wear lifts to make himself a little taller. A clear win for Senator Douglas in my book.

Moderator: And Huck, what is your analysis? Who won?

Huck: Well, I think the American people were the big losers today. Neither of these candidates is fit for high office. Lincoln sidestepped the gay rights issue. What is he hiding? And Douglas never did explain his ideas about white supremacy. What does he really believe? But the clincher was this. Neither candidate seemed to know who Kim Kardashian is? Really? You expect us to believe that? The most important political analyst-dancer-TV personality of modern times and neither of these candidates had a clue? Both are UNFIT for public office. Case closed.

Moderator: So you have it. An in depth look at the issues and candidates. Stick around for the next two hours as we air our special ” When  Sasquatch Goes to the Mall”. And don’t forget to vote. It is your duty. I think voting this year is sometime in November…or is it October..? Google it.

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Filed under candidate, Conservatives, Constitution, debates, Dred Scott, entertainment, liberals, news, slavery

Contestant #8: The Huckster: Praise Jesus and Pass the Collection Plate

Eighth in a series of biased reviews of the people who claim they want to be president. It  keeps getting weirder, if you can believe that.

Mike Huckabee. Former governor. Talk show host. Peddler of the “Diabetes Solution Kit”. Minister of the word of God.  This guy does it all!

A look at the “issues” section of  his website: http://www.mikehuckabee.com/issues

The Huckster has plenty of issues. They include: Record as Governor; Israel; Energy;Undecided Voters; Seniors;Education; 2nd Amendment;Tax Reform; Veterans;Spending Debt; National Security; Health Care; Border Security; and, Family Values. Unlike some candidates, Huckabee has a good list of important issues. So, let’s see where he stands.

Let’s just pick a few.

Tax Reform. His Fair Tax Plan (not explained) will lower EVERYONE’s taxes. Bring investment to the US. And abolish the IRS. So, I guess if I decide not to pay any taxes there will be no agency to collect from me. Brilliant! Mike notes that he cut taxes “nearly 100 times” as governor of Arkansas. Doing a little research I found the website for Huckabee’s “Fair Tax Plan”. It eliminates ALL income taxes, including payments to SS and Medicare. Replaces it with a national “sales tax”. Then gives “prebates” to everyone to pay part of the sales tax that they will now be paying. . I cannot figure out how this raises any revenue. The numbers just don’t add up. Oh, well.

Health Care. He opposes the ACA. Calls it a disaster. He would replace it with…he does not say. He would repeal it . Then what? He would use “common sense”. He says that the ACA has taken $ 700 billion from Medicare. A claim that has been shown to be a falsehood  but is often repeated. (Factcheck calls this claim a “Whopper”, their highest honor for falsehoods).

Education: He opposes the federal government controlling education (It doesn’t). He says educational decisions are best left to “Mom and Dad” (Anyone can homeschool). He demands accountability in the classroom…and opposes accountability schemes like Common Core. Also, college costs too much. (Why can’t Mom and Dad just offer B.A degrees from home?)

Family Values. Life begins at conception. According to Huckabee this is not just a “Biblical” view but a “scientific” one. (He does not quote a Biblical passage or a scientific study that supports this). He also supports “traditional” marriage . (Who doesn’t it?). As governor he signed a “Fetal Protection Act” . (While it is not on his website it should be noted that Huckabee has been endorsed by the Dugars family… Nineteen kids and counting. Just think if every family was as prolific. Old Huck would win in a landslide!)

OK. Huckabee DOES have a political record to look at. So, he has a list of his accomplishments as governor of Arkansas.

Record as Governor. Tax cuts. Tax cuts on capital gains. Tax cuts for families. Average family income INCREASED by 50%. WOW! Cut 50% of poor folks off welfare ! Executed 16 people.  (I presume many were criminals, he doesn’t say). Refused to commute sentences. Appointed a “home schooling ” parent to the state Board of Education. Issued a “Home School  Day” proclamation. Passed an abortion ban and a “marriage protection act”.

What does Factcheck have to say about some of these financial accomplishments?

While Huckabee did CUT some taxes 94 times, he also INCREASED taxes 21 times. The overall impact? A $ 500 million net INCREASE for the people of Arkansas. Household incomes did increase by 50%…but 41% of that was INFLATION. Actually median incomes rose by 9% from 1996-2007 when he was governor.

Bottom line. Huckabee is running as the “Christian” candidate. He emphasizes the Bible and religion as central to his candidacy . Even mentions that god gave Abraham the land in the Middle East as the basis of his foreign policy. He is very aggressive in the areas of “right to life” and “traditional marriage”. Code words for ending Roe v Wade and gay marriage.

One would have to think that his primary goal in running for POTUS is to fatten up his retirement account with donations sent in by the faithful. A religious conman?  A family values kind of guy ? Well, he did forget to mention that he has appeared on stage with that icon of civility and family values, Ted Nugent.

Parise the lord and pass the hat, the Huckster is back in business.

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Filed under abortion, Arkansas, Christianity, Churches, Conservatives, death penalty, Elections, gay rights, governor, huckabee, president, Republicans, right to life

Contestant #7: Carly, We Hardly Know Ye and Never Will

Part of an ongoing series of biased reports about the increasingly humorous group of people who think they have the qualifications to be President of the United States. This is not a joke. Really. They do.

Carly Fiorina.

Let me start with this. Most. Actually ALL the other candidates have well organized websites. You can click on a link to their “issues” section. And even if they are vague and sometimes silly you can actually read what their ideas are.

Not so with Carly. While she did run a computer company (into the ground) her website lacks the most basic political information. Like. What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What do you want to do?

Since she has never held public office we have no record of her votes, speeches in Congress, etc. So, we depend heavily if not exclusively on her own website.  Nada. Nothing. See:

http://carlyforamerica.com/meet-carly/

Well, you can MEET Carly. You can DONATE. You can VOLUNTEER. And there is a “NEWS” section. But nothing on her goals, ideas, plans, etc. In her “news” section she does criticize those who have criticized her. And she tries to make a case that she was a great CEO. Even though she was fired. So, I guess we will go with that.

Carly says that in her tenure at HP she created thousands of jobs. Others say she fired or laid off between 15,000 and  30,000 employees.

Carly says that when she took over HP had revenue of about $45 billion and she DOUBLED it’s worth to almost $90 billion.

Carly says that when she started at HP there were 84,000 employees and they almost DOUBLED to over 140,000 employees by the time she left (was fired).

So. That’s it. That is her SOLE qualification for being President of the US. For dealing with ISIS. Russia. The vast social services bureaucracy. That, and the fact that she was chairman of CPAC, the radical right wing fundraising organization.

OK. Let’s look at her claims. The first year at HP she actually cut jobs. But, in 2002 there was a 60,000 person increase in employment ! Almost doubled in ONE year. And the revenues DID increase  to almost $90 billion by the time she left.  Sounds like she is a WIZARD! A real job creator, par excellence! So, why did they fire her?

Something peculiar happened in 2002. HP bought another company called Compaq. So, those new “jobs” were simply the additional Compaq employees. That new “revenue” was simply what happens when you combine two massive companies. These increases had nothing to do with management..they were BOUGHT. It was not the result of good old American know how…it was the result of a good old American MERGER.

So, Carly is being a bit devious when she touts her management skills. So, why DID they fire her.

According to figures from a book about her”success”:

“After the 2002 merger the company’s results suffered. Yes, Fiorina did double HP’s revenues by buying Compaq, but at what cost? Let’s take a look at the numbers. In 1999 when she arrived at the company, HP had $42 billion in sales and $3.1 billion in net earnings. When she left in 2005, HP had $87 billion in sales but only $2.4 billion in earnings.”

(Read more at http://wonkette.com/584307/did-carly-fiorina-run-hewlett-packard-into-the-ground-or-did-sexism-do-it#OcKe28B8eRJUr2le.99)

So, she took a company earning $3.1 billion a year, bought another company, and managed to make only $2.4 billion in profits by the time she left. A financial genius. This is her sole qualification to be the President of the United States.

Of all the losers on the GOP side Carly is the “losingest”. No issues. No experience. Fuzzy math. The only thing she has going for her is that she was a CEO . A failed CEO.

Contestant #7. GONG! You’re out.

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Filed under candidate, Carly Fiorina, CEO, Conservatives, cpac, Elections, Republicans

Contestant #6: The Doctor is In…Sane

The next in a series of biased reports about the men and women who want to be President of the United States.

Ben Carson. A great surgeon. Proof that a person can excel in one area and be a total incompetent in other areas.

A look at Mr Carson’s website: https://www.bencarson.com/issues/

Ben has no experience in governing. Which is fine. But he has no record of voting on issues.  So his website is especially important. It allows us to see the depth of his understanding of political issues and the practical solutions he puts forth.

His site lists 10 issues. They are: A Balanced Budget Amendment; Education; Keep Gitmo Open; Keep Faith in Our Society; Health Care; Protect Innocent Life; Russia;2nd Amendment; Israel; and, the Tax Code.

Ben wants an amendment to the Constitution to balance the budget. He makes no recommendations on what he would cut to do so. Voodoo.

Education. Schools are failing. He wants to improve schools by having more “local control” and less big government interference. He would stop common core. Evidently Ben does not know that our educational system is the ONLY area in our lives where “local control” dominates and has done so since book learnin began. . Maybe that is why schools are failing in some communities? He also evidently does not know that common core is not mandated .

Ben wants to keep prisoners at Gitmo without trial. Evidently he does not believe that evidence should be required to detain folks.  (To his credit he does not claim to support the Constitution).

He wants religions to be able to practice their faith. I am not sure who opposes this.

He wants to end the ACA and fund health care through individual “Health Savings Accounts” which will drive down health care costs. Does not explain how this keeps costs down. I guess if you tell your doctor that you are paying with a HSA he will cut you a deal? And on a minimum wage salary it should be easy to sock away a lot of loot into your family’s HSA.  Yep. That will work.

He wants to protect innocent life. Don’t we all?

He thinks Russia must be dealt with. And he supports Israel. So far, so good.

He thinks the 2nd Amendment should stay on the books. Hard to argue that.

And he wants to change the tax code and eliminate the IRS. Not sure how taxes get collected?

All in all, his “Issues” amount to vague generalities, code words and general ideas. To put it bluntly. This guy is full of crap.

One example is from his “Keep the Faith” explanation. He wrongly asserts that the US was based on the Declaration of Independence as the “bedrock” document. It wasn’t . The Declaration lead to the Articles of Confederation, which was a massive failure. The “bedrock” document of the USA is the Constitution, which fails to mention any religion.

There’s more. And I quote:

“…However, we need to reverse the recent trend of secular progressives using activist, federal judges to drive faith out of our society. Anyone who wishes to practice their faith, for example by praying privately, can and should be able to do so. Equally, the rights of someone to abstain from private prayer should also be jealously protected…”

He cites no case in which judges have DRIVEN OUT faith. (Is he not aware of Hobby Lobby?). And he says people should be able to pray privately. Who , in god’s name, is STOPPING THEM  from praying privately?

I have to stop. The shallowness of his thinking, the lack of understanding of US history, the use of code words. I can’t decide if he is the most devious, dishonest candidate to date or if he is actually dumber than Sarah Palin . (Now that WOULD be an accomplishment.)

Last note: He forgot to mention Prison Reform on his website. After all, “Dr” Ben is the guy who insisted that prisons create gays.

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Filed under ACA, Ben Carson, Budget, Conservatives, Constitution, economics, Elections, gays, GOP, prayer, Republicans

Contestant #5: Sanders the Socialist

5th in a series of biased analysis of announced candidates for the office of President of the US.

From Bernie Sanders Issues website: https://berniesanders.com/issues/

The senator from Vermont, a native of Brooklyn, is a self-proclaimed socialist and independent.  Since everyone knows what a socialist is, there is almost no need to go into detail. A socialist is one who hates America, wants to eat babies and tries to destroy all that is good in the world. Someone from, let’s say, Sweden.

That said, Bernie’s website has the usual vague generalities on some topics, specifics on other topics and simply ignores other topics.

For example, he pretty much ignores social issues like gay rights, abortion, etc.

He opposes Wall Street bailouts. He wants to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure. He wants women to have equal pay as men for equal work. He wants tax reform. He thinks the middle class has been screwed. All noble concepts. But the devil is in the details, and he is short on details.

His main area of concern is for working families. He is very specific on raising the minimum wage (to $ 15.00). He wants a one payer health care system. And he wants to make it easier for workers who want unions to unionize. These are areas where he has been consistent throughout his long career.

Most telling, he has opposed all the free trade agreements, going back to NAFTA. That is one area where he differs from most other candidates. He has a record of fighting to keep jobs in the USA. Unique among the candidates. Ever.

He does not seem to have used his political office for personal gain and has no outstanding scandals. But I am sure Fox News is working to create something as we speak.

All in all, a tried and true socialist. Can he win a major election with those credentials? Is it possible ? Does  a socialist have a chance of winning the highest office in the land?

About as likely as a socialist being elected to the US Senate. Or a black guy winning the presidency. Twice. We shall see.

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Filed under Bernie Sanders, CAFTA, candidate, economics, Economy, Free Trade, minimum wage, NAFTA, PNTR, socialism, socialist, unions

May Day 2040

May 1st. May Day. A celebration of the working people of the world. A celebration of worker’s rights. Passing largely unnoticed. A peek into  the future…Here is May Day, 2040.

Little Bobby and Little Suzie: Tell us a story Grandpa. A story.

Grandpa: Well. Today is May Day. So let me tell you about it. Once there was a time when unions and….

Bobby: (interrupting)..what’s a union?

Grandpa: A  union was an organization of working people. They got together to try to get good wages and working conditions and things like that.

Suzie: But isn’t that illegal, Grandpa?

Grand: NOW it is. But then it wasn’t. You see in the Bill of Rights every person had the right to “free association”. That meant that he could form unions. So workers did just that. Back then it wasn’t illegal.

Bobby:  But workers aren’t persons, Grandpa. I learned that in my “America is For Christians” History class.

Grandpa: That is true. But, once upon a time workers WERE considered to be persons. Then the Supreme Court said that corporations were persons. Then another Supreme Court said that ONLY corporations were persons. So that’s why workers are no longer persons.

Suzie: Grandpa. were YOU ever a person?

Grandpa: Oh yes. I was a person for a long time. And I worked as a union member until they were made illegal by President Rand Cruz.  And I paid Social Security…

Bobby: Social what, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Social Security. It was a little bit of money you paid every paycheck and then when you retired you would get some money to live on. But that is all gone now. Many corpora..er..persons…had religious objections to paying any tax. So that ended.

Suzie: What’s “retired”?

Grandpa: Retirement? It used to be that when you were 55 or 60 or 65 you could quit working and just live on pensions and social security. back when people were persons.

Bobby: But grandpa you are almost 90 and you are still working. When will you retire?

Grandpa: No one retires any more, Bobby. It is bad for corporate investment. When they eliminated the minimum wage they eliminated retirement. BUT, in the good old days, people could relax a little as they got older. Those days are gone.

Bobby: But Grandpa, our history teacher told us that only lazy people retire and want money for working. Anyway, she said that only persons have rights, not people.

Grandpa: Well, Bobby, she is right that people are no longer persons under the law. The  Supreme Court has ruled that there are only 3 categories of legal “persons”. No one else has any rights.

Suzie: What are the three categories, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Let me see if I remember. Who now has rights…Corporations, of course…and Born Again Christians…and the third…I remember now…fetuses and embryos. No one else has rights.

(Dad, Bobby and Suzie’s father enters.)

Dad: Okay kids, time to let Grandpa go to bed. He has a 10 hour shift tomorrow.

(Grandpa trudges off to his cot in the basement.)

Suzie: I like Grandpa’s stories.

Dad: Well, honey, remember Grandpa doesn’t always remember things correctly. He was what they used to call a “socialist”. He still thinks that people should be persons. He thinks that ppeople are more important than corporations. But he is old, so, we can humor him.

Bobby: Can we stay up late and watch the hologram?

Dad: Nope, You both need to study. I looked at your test schedule and there is a very important Science test tomorrow. You know what that means, don’t you?

Bobby and Suzie in unison: Memorize Leviticus.

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Filed under economics, May Day, pensions, retire, Social Security, workers