Tag Archives: debates

The Not So Great Debate

Again I watched and listened to the Democratic debate. Well, hardly a debate. A few years ago I read the transcripts of the Lincoln-Douglass debates. The format was this.

Lincoln spoke for an hour. Douglass spoke for an hour and a half. Lincoln spoke for half an hour. Each side was given 90 minutes to talk. Explain. Extrapolate.

No moderators. That was a debate.

Last night I watched something that was called a debate, but was actually one of a series of  made for TV soundbite shows. OK. OK. With 6 candidates you can’t have a real debate, but that does not necessitate the ridiculous system now controlled by networks and moderators.

The discussion , which should elicit in depth, comprehensive explanations of views and policies, instead only encouraged “gotcha ” questions and hostile statements. I ask: What did anyone LEARN about the positions of the candidates? Not much, if anything.

Before I honor you with my solutions, let us re-enact the discussion.

Start Moderator # 1 (because, to be honest, the discussion is more about the “cleverness” of the moderators than the substance of the candidates): Mayor Bloomberg. You run a 60 billion dollar empire and have been around since Jesus walked the Earth. We now have 3 anonymous women who say you told a dirty joke in 1986. Since we now know you are a misogynistic, racist pig who rapes little girls, why are you even on the stage, and not in prison? You have 75 seconds to respond.

Star Moderator # 2: Senator Sanders. You are a communist through and through. You want to give everyone a communist health care plan that will destroy the very fabric of American society. You also had at least one heart attack. So, do you really think America is ready to elect a sickly, disgusting Mao-loving communist who will take away all their rights? You have 75 seconds to discuss all your plans and explain why you love Stalin.

Star Moderator # 3: Vice President Biden. You suck. We all know you are too old and you suck. And what about your son? You are trying to ride Obama’s coattails. Because you are old, a crook and suck, why should people vote for you? Hell, why am I even talking to you, you loser. You have 75 seconds to explain all of your work as vice president.

Star Moderator # 4: Senator Klobuchar. When you were a prosecutor in Minnesota you put black people in prison for crimes. Also, you cannot name the youngest daughter of the Vice President of Guatemala. In view of this history of racism and anti-Latino sentiment, please answer the following. Why are you a racist and why do you hate Latinos and why should any person of color even consider voting for such an obvious hater? Please limit your response to 75 seconds, you racist bitch.

Star Moderator # 5: Senator Warren. You are behind in the polls. You want to do better. You have these very hard to understand plans that no one cares about because they aren’t going to happen. You have been very unladylike today . Do you think being a strident , screeching female who thinks she is so smart will make men turn off to your campaign. I mean, what man wants to hear you talk like you know more than they do? Have you always turned off men or is this a new phenomenon? You have only 60 seconds because you talk too much.

Star Moderator # 6: Mayor Pete. You little cutie pie. Are you insane? You are gay. You are young. You are a smarty pants. You were in the military but no one cares about that. What the hell makes you think you have any right to run for president? I don’t care what your views are. Bottom line. Other than your “husband” and others in “that community” do you really think anyone else is ever going to vote for you? Please answer in 75 seconds and don’t play the lame “military” and “gay” cards.

As the discussion comes to a close the 6 moderators all congratulate each other on their insightful questioning.

Questions not asked by the insightful moderators. Questions which might have elicited intelligent , thoughtful responses.

Explain your health care plan, what it would cost and how you would pay for it.

Mr Trump has turned the Constitution upside down. Explain two ways you would bring us back to be a nation with respect for the law.

Immigration reform has been talked about for years. What is your plan for protecting the border, dealing with the Dreamers and developing a comprehensive plan for legal immigration?

To what extent should we be involved, with troops on the ground, in the Middle East? Explain.

Of course, questions like this cannot be answered in 75 seconds.

So, my suggestions.

1.Give each candidate 4-5 minutes to answer any question, uninterrupted.

2.Ask the exact same question to every candidate.

3. Do not allow candidates to ask each other questions except in the context of their own allotted time.

4. Make sure each candidate gets the same amount of time as the others.

Now these rules would mean that the moderators would no longer be the stars of the show. They would have to bury their egos. Actually, you would need only one moderator who could just ask the questions and keep time.

This would change the entire feel of the discussion. It would have depth. It would be BORING. Nothing but facts, ideas, plans and explanations. So people who wanted more information about these candidates could get that information.

But then, that would be bad TV.

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When Is the First Debate?

Tonight is supposed to be the third debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A debate between 2 people who want to take on the job of most powerful and influential human being on the face of the Earth for the next 4 years.

I am still waiting for the first debate.

So far, all we have heard about is sex , lies and emails. Insults.  Smirking. Sniffling. Name calling. Promises of prison. Just a bad reality TV show. Not a debate. A spectacle encouraged by an unprepared press. Seeking ratings, not truth.

When is the first debate? Where is the moderator who will ignore sex. Ignore emails. Ignore polls. And just ask substantive questions. And then DEMAND substantive answers.

There was some of that in the first two shows, but hardly enough to learn anything about what the candidates actually would do. This is especially true for Donald Trump. A man who specializes  in used-car-salesman assurances and generalities rather than hard facts.

So, let’s have a moderator who asks , then demands straight answers. And one who factchecks and calls out the candidates when they are simply wrong about the facts.

Try these on for size:

What would you do to  try to bring jobs back to the US? What kinds of jobs would you try to help create? What is the proper role of the federal government is helping create those jobs?

What is your overall  tax policy. What should the rates be for various income levels? Do those rates generate the needed revenues to pay for the increases in spending you are calling for?

What are some areas in which you would hope to increase spending and decrease spending? By how much? Why are you focusing on those areas?

In terms of foreign affairs, what should the US role be in the Middle East? In regards to Russia? In regards to nuclear proliferation? In regards to the Palestinian – Israeli problem? In regards to the refugee situation in Syria?

What is your approach to illegal immigration? What, specifically do you see as the problem and what, specifically do you see as a solution?

As you know the President can do nothing without a Congress that is willing to compromise. What makes you think you can get Congress to work with you? To what extent are you willing to compromise to reach agreements?

What is the proper role of the Supreme Court? What kind of justices would you appoint? To what extent would you depend on the American Bar Association and other legal groups for vetting? Is there a litmus test for your judges? What is it?

So, will the moderator ask questions and hold the candidates to answers? Will he push them for specifics on policy?

Chris Wallace of Fox News. Fair and Balanced? Will he direct the candidates to policy and substance or focus on trivialities?

I am still waiting for the first debate.

 

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Filed under Conservatives, debates, Democrat, Elections, GOP, government, Hillary, Immigration, liberals, Politics, POTUS, president, Republicans, Supreme Court, Taxes, Trump, United States, US

The Economy or The People?

Watching parts (I have a weak stomach) of the GOP debate on the “economy” I think I finally figured out the problem. I am slow, I admit.

The first question by the Fox Business/ Wall Street Journal panel exposed the issue pretty clearly. Should the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour? Which is about $31,000 per year according to the panelist.

The answer, across the board, was NO. It would hurt “the economy” to raise the wages of people now making maybe 7 or  10 or 12 bucks an hour. It would devastate the economy to have poor working people making a little more to spend.

Trump, by is own admission a billionaire, sees nothing but ruin if a fast food worker were to get a few more bucks. And Carson agrees.  The end of the US “economy” as we know it. Catastrophe.

Another question asked by the panelists was about the great disparity between a CEO average pay and that of one of his workers. It used to be 20 to 1. Now it is 300 to 1. I don’t think any candidate ever actually responded to that one. The non answers were clear. No problem.

So, what seems clear to me now (as I said, I am slow) is that the GOP candidates have a completely distorted world view of what an “economy” is and what an “economy” does. Or is supposed to do.

Simply put, an economy is how goods and services are organized and distributed in a given society. The purpose of an economy should be what? To be organized so all members of a society have a chance to benefit from the wealth of that society. If not, then we must assume the “economy” has, as it’s central purpose, the organization of goods and services to benefit only a portion of the society.

The GOP concept of an “economy” seems to accept the second concept, that the economy should be organized to help only portions of society.. The economy to them seems to mean only one thing. How much profit is generated for the investor class. While they talk about “job creation” they are really talking about cheap labor so that investor profits will be higher. Not job creation so workers can have a decent life. Or participate in the overall economy in the broadest sense.

Now there is nothing wrong with investors making a profit. That is how the capitalist system (flawed though it is)  works. Since investors are allowing others to use their money  they deserve a reasonable return. But what is not reasonable is defining the “economy” ONLY in terms of investor profits. It skews the argument and is not a realist view of what an economy is all about.

When the GOP candidates say that a higher wage for workers hurts the “economy’, what they mean is a higher wage for workers cuts into investor profits. Which is true. Of course, taken to it’s logical conclusion one could argue that slavery is the best system for the “economy” because it reduces all labor costs for the investor. Hence, a slave economy, by definition, would be the “strongest” economy under the GOP world view. Tried that once, if I recall.

The GOP candidates, with real concern for the plight of poor Americans, pointed out that 1 in 5 kids now live in poverty. But their solution to this is NOT to raise the minimum wage so these children and their parents can escape poverty. Somehow, this system of keeping poor people underpaid is “good” for the economy. And it is, if you define the economy as the GOP does. A system designed to promote investor profits.

For the Democrats the challenge is simple. Help folks understand that the GOP definition of the economy is narrow and incomplete. Not evil. Not anti- poor.  Not racist. But simplistic and wrong. An economy is more than profits for investors. It is a system that is supposed to work for ALL members, not just a few.

A productive economy is one that is balanced so that workers who provide the labor to create profits benefit from that labor. And they benefit to such an extent that they can take advantage of the wealth they create. Investors also benefit by making a reasonable rate of return on their investments. A balanced system that recognize both halves of the equation.

Back in the days when the CEOs made only 20 times as much as the average worker the economy was better than it is today.  Investors made good profits and paid their fair share of taxes. Guess what? The economy worked for most people. Yes, some were poor. But the investor class did ok.  Not a single member needed food stamps.

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Questions for Debate

The GOP is mad because the moderators of the last debate asked “gotcha” questions. Of course, the Fox moderators did the same thing but they were not criticized (except for The Donald, but then he criticizes everything so it doesn’t count). Of course, similar questions, devoid of substance, were asked at the Dem debate. The difference? The Dems, for the most part, refused to be drawn into squabbles .

Bu what if they WERE asked real questions. Not political questions, but questions that any high school grad should be able to answer or at least have an opinion about? Wouldn’t that be a joy to behold.

Here are some questions I would like to see them ask ALL the candidates from both parties.

Each candidate has 5 minutes to give a fairly thorough, though limited, response.

  1. Explain the theory of evolution and whether you think it explains the diversity of life on Earth.
  2.  Should the Bible, Quran, Mahabharata or any religious text be used as a governing tool?
  3. Is it more important to spend money on the military or on social programs?
  4. What is your position on the Affordable Care Act? If you oppose it what would you replace it with or how would you improve it?
  5. Is climate change real or a hoax? Can you cite any data to back up your position?
  6. Under what circumstances should the US send troops into a war? Be specific. The vague statement “our interests are threatened” is not acceptable. Give some concrete examples.
  7. Will you support a law that makes it mandatory for all federal elected officials to move all their investments from the private sector into government bonds  while they are in office?
  8. Since the primary purpose of government is to keep its citizens safe, what would you do to make sure that every child in America can play in their own front yard without fear of being killed by gang warfare?
  9. Discuss why we have so many illegal immigrants and explain your short and long term solution to the problem.
  10. The US incarcerates more people than any western nation. By far. Are Americans inherently a lawless people or is there something wrong with the legal and criminal justice systems?

No questions like: You are now 7th in the polls, why don’t you drop out of the race? Or: Some people say that your uncle on your mother’s side was a drug addict. Do you love illegal drugs? Or: Please use one word to describe all the personality characteristics of all your opponents. Etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what these people are actually thinking? If they are capable of thinking? And perhaps give honest answers that are not memorized 20 second soundbites?

It might be fun to watch. It might be enlightening. It might be painful. But wouldn’t we learn something very important about each of them?

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