I did not watch the Republican debate

It would be good to be politically informed, but I think the GOP and the media have colluded to produce noisy spectacle and pointless demagoguery, so I skipped the whole thing — we all have better things to do with 3 hours than watch out-of-touch prudes and bigots purse their lips and yell. Also, I knew I could get a better digest of what was said on the web today.

It turns out I was right, and didn’t miss anything important. I checked the big name news sites, too, and they’re pulling the same shit they always do: what are the rankings in the horse race? Who ‘won’ this debate? Who delivered the best zingers? I want to know what policies (they’re Republican, I can guess they’re all heinous) they’re pushing, not who got win, place, and show among the yahoos.

I did learn that Carly Fiorina’s magic solution to all problems is to increase the size of the military. And she was considered the ‘winner’.


  1. numerobis says

    Vox had the best analysis I saw: Fiorina hands down won the debate, because unlike her opponents she sounded confident and knowledgeable — she clearly studies the issues carefully. The only downside is that most of the facts she brings up are false.

  2. themadtapper says

    Ben Carson, from the article PZ linked:

    after hearing that a fence wouldn’t stop illegal immigration, he suggested a “double fence” instead

    The GOP are the gift that keeps on giving. Unfortunately, they give nothing but brain-damage and despair.

  3. ggw1 says

    What policies are they pushing? Let me guess: tax cuts for the wealthy, endless war, and and a few faux religious programs that have no real effect except to harm poor women but keep the base happy. I’m 52 and that sums up every Republican platform I have seen in my lifetime.

  4. themadtapper says

    What policies are they pushing?

    1) Wall off Mexico, because jerbs
    2) Tax cuts, because capitalism
    3) Stop Planned Parenthood, because babies
    4) Destroy Iran, because Muslims
    5) Stop the gay, because Jesus

  5. brett says

    It was annoyingly obvious that they were trying to generate conflict by pitting the other candidates against Trump with the phrasing of the questions. I was rolling my eyes a lot when they asked questions.

    Other than that, pretty terrible. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to whatever hot garbage they spouted off on abortion and Planned Parenthood, but I did watch the segment on immigration.

  6. scienceavenger says

    There was actually a decent exchange between Santorum and Pataki on the rule of law vs religous accomodation. Sadly, it was a rare oasis of substance in a desert of drivel and jingoism.

  7. scienceavenger says

    Santorum also had a high mark calling out the others on their “I want to grow the economy rather than raise the minimum wage ” canard. That Santorum had the high intellectual marks in the debate pretty much sums it all up.

  8. porlob says

    A real gem was when the moderator asked about the supposed link between vaccines and autism, and four panelists — two of them MDs — responded, with a wide spectrum of opinions ranging from “too many too soon” to “I’ve watched children with my get autism mere days after vaccination with my own eyes.”

    Ugh ugh ugh.

  9. porlob says

    (which is to say, Trump supposedly WATCHED with his own eyes… not that he did the vaccination with his own eyes. That’d be really gross)

  10. Bob Foster says

    I muted the TV and just watched them in silence for a few moments. It was like observing aliens going about some incomprehensible rite of succession. There was one with striking orange plumage and a florid complexion who was the most animated of the group. He would spit and snarl and glare menacingly left and right. The other aliens seemed intimidated by him. Whenever one of the others would move his lips he would suddenly interrupt by word or gesture and the offender would stiffen, smile weakly, lower his gaze and shut up until he was finished. There was only one female in the group and she seemed to goad and bother the angry one the most. It would be nice to understand what was being said. But even when I unmuted the TV I was still hearing nothing but alien gibberish.

  11. says

    Marco Rubio on gun laws:

    First of all, the only people that follow the law are law-abiding people. Criminals by definition ignore the law, so you can pass all the gun laws in the world, like the left wants. The criminals are going to ignore it because they are criminals.

    Rubio went on to connect gun violence to marriage equality and to President Obama’s “left-wing government.” Category of worst-segue-ever.

    You can’t have a strong country without strong people, you cannot have strong people without strong values, and you cannot have strong values without strong families and the institutions in this country that defend and support those families.

    Today, we have a left-wing government under this president that is undermining all of the institutions and society that support the family and teach those values.

    Rubio was anti-factual when it came to purported violence from North Korea:

    There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons and long-range rocket that can already hit the very place in which we stand tonight.

    The “dozens” part of that is wrong, and it is unlikely that North Korea has what it needs to deliver a nuclear weapon long distance — to California for example. It’s true that N.K. is a huge problem and a nuclear threat, but exaggerating the problem doesn’t help to solve it.

    Rubio also claimed that “we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.” Not true, not ever true. Not true in the past, not true now.

  12. says

    Republicans may have lost voters simply by having a 3-hour debate.

    And Donald Trump was silent for one twenty minute stretch. Surely the rabid base cannot go without a Trumpism for twenty minutes. They all shriveled up and died.

  13. says

    Donald Trump gave a speech on a decommissioned battleship the day before the Republican debate. I mean, he was in town, so why not give a fake foreign policy speech for a fake veteran’s support group.

    Rachel Maddow dug deeper into the fake veterans group for which Donald Trump gave his fake national security/foreign policy speech.

    Trump’s campaign personnel billed the speech as a major foreign policy address. There was no foreign policy in the speech. Unless you count this as foreign policy:

    We’re gonna make our military so big and so strong and so great and it will be so powerful that I don’t think we’re ever going to have to use it. Nobody’s gonna mess with us.

    That speech, the setting, and the supposed sponsor all add up to a fiasco for Donald Trump, a fiasco that should be covered more widely.
    More details on the Moments of Political Madness thread.

  14. doublereed says

    From what I gathered, it was just an excuse for CNN to fellate Trump.

    The only reason Fiorina “won” is because she’s literally the only one who successfully stood up to Trump. Everyone else bowed their head, including the moderators.

  15. Saad says

    From Lynna’s #11

    Marco Rubio on gun laws same-sex marriage/abortion:

    First of all, the only people that follow the law are law-abiding people. Criminals by definition ignore the law, so you can pass all the gun laws gay marriage and abortion bans in the world, like the left right wants. The criminals are going to ignore it because they are criminals.

  16. says

    Cross posted from the Moments of Political Madness thread.

    Carly Fiorina said that she wants to rebuild the Sixth Fleet, in part to handle Putin. Ezra Klein addressed Fiorina’s blatant bullshit (“blizzard of bull” as journalist Laura Clawson called it):

    The Sixth Fleet is already huge, and it’s hard to say why adding to its capabilities would intimidate Putin — after all, America has enough nuclear weapons pointed at Russia to level the country thousands of times over.

    Her proposal for more military exercises in the Baltics seemed odd in light of the fact that President Obama is already conducting military exercises in the Baltics.

    And the US already has around 40,000 troops stationed in Germany, so it’s hard to say what good “a few thousand” more would do. And pushing on a missile defense system in Poland is a very long-term solution to a very current problem.

    In total, Fiorina’s laundry list of proposals sure sounded like a plan, but on inspection, it’s hard to see why any of them would convince Putin to change course.


  17. Amphiox says

    The U.S. Military is already bigger than the next 9-10 nations combine, all but two of which are allies who would fight on America’s side, or at least be neutral. People are still “messing” with them. How much bigger do they think they need to get?

  18. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    at the end, there was, (repoortedly) a final quewstion for the cands, “As POTUS what should the Secret Service use for your code name?” Won;t list them all, but Trump’s was amusing, that he would suggest “Humble” to be his code name is arrogant show of fauxirony

  19. says

    The Republican candidates plan to revamp the Supreme Court to fit their ultra conservative view of the USA. IF one of them is elected president. Very scary. They do not think, for instance that John Roberts is conservative enough. But it was Roberts that provided the fifth vote in some crucial decisions:
    – gutting the Voting Rights Act
    – removing most of the limits on money in politics (Citizens United)
    – giving religious liberty rights to corporations (Hobby Lobby)
    – upholding late-term abortion bans
    – taking the teeth out of anti-discrimination laws

    Holy crap! Republicans think they need a Justice who is more conservative than Roberts? Ted Cruz said:

    I’ve known John Roberts for 20 years, he’s amazingly talented lawyer, but, yes, it was a mistake when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. He’s a good enough lawyer that he knows in these Obamacare cases he changed the statute, he changed the law in order to force that failed law on millions of Americans for a political outcome.

    And, you know, we’re frustrated as conservatives. We keep winning elections, and then we don’t get the outcome we want.

    And here is Mike Huckabee’s litmus test for people he would appoint to the Supreme Court:

    Number one, I’d ask do you think that the unborn child is a human being or is it just a blob of tissue? I’d want to know the answer to that. I’d want to know do you believe in the First Amendment, do you believe that religious liberty is the fundamental liberty around which all the other freedoms of this country are based? And I’d want to know do you really believe in the Second Amendment, do you believe that we have an individual right to bear arms to protect ourselves and our family and to protect our country? And do you believe in the Fifth and the 14th Amendment? Do you believe that a person, before they’re deprived of life and liberty, should in fact have due process and equal protection under the law? Because if you do, you’re going to do more than defund Planned Parenthood

    Jeb Bush also made noises about Justice Roberts not being conservative enough.

  20. robro says

    The great thing about American political campaigns (for candidates) is that the candidates can say anything they damn well please to entice someone to vote for them. There is no requirement that they do any of the things they say they support or stand for, and there’s very little trackback by the next election. So Trump can claim he supports increasing taxes on the rich because he knows congress isn’t going to do any such thing.

  21. anteprepro says

    Watched the first 40 minutes, just laughing. We made fun of them for the fact that they are basically all children trying to pretend to be adults. Attention hogging, doing their best to get away with insulting each other, regularly failing to answer questions straight, frequently refusing to stop talking. Obviously Trump was the worst of them all, but they are such blatantly selfish and moronic little shits. I think the only real points that came up when I watched were:

    1. Washington insiders vs. outsiders: Insiders BAAAAAD, because gubmint must be destroyed. Also, the best qualification for running a country is running a business. Because of course.
    2. Foreign affairs: Even split between “FUCK THE IRAN DEAL BURN IT BURN IT” and “The Iran deal is horrible, but we should still talk to other countries, because that’s what Reagan would do!”.

    Part of me wishes I had seen more. The other part of me thinks that I would die from it.

  22. robro says

    I see that Trump and Carson are taking heat for their stupid comments about vaccines. It’s top of the tree on Google News. At least Carson refuted Trump for claiming a connection between vaccines and autism, but then he went on to assert that “that we’re giving way too many [vaccines] in way too short a time and a lot of pediatricians recognize that.” I assume he has no evidence for that, just harping a line to please some demographic. Carson did not question Trump’s assertion that “Autism has become an epidemic”. I guess you can’t counter every bit of overblown BS that comes out of his mouth.

  23. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    @Lynna, OM#14:

    Trump’s campaign personnel billed the speech as a major foreign policy address. There was no foreign policy in the speech. Unless you count this as foreign policy:

    We’re gonna make our military so big and so strong and so great and it will be so powerful that I don’t think we’re ever going to have to use it. Nobody’s gonna mess with us.

    That would be great if making our military “so strong and so great” didn’t already get us into so much trouble in the first place. You don’t spend billions on weapons and equipment and then just sit back and simply declare peace; our history of restless, intervention-prone post-WWII presidents combined with a consistently huge military budget has proven just the opposite.

    One historic example from the Cold War; the massive stockpile of nuclear weapons we built up, peaking at over 30,000 weapons in the mid 1960s. Every time we increased the stockpile, military planners adjusted strategy accordingly in order to justify its size. When it was 150 in the late 1940s, that was what was needed to destroy the evil Soviets. When they exploded their first atomic bomb in 1949, we then needed an H-bomb, and more fission weapons to boot, in addition to a peacetime draft that would last into the 1970s. The money spent and resources devoted in the years that followed, all in the name of fighting the Evil Empire, was enormous. And it diverted attention further away from nonmilitary investment that could have benefited actual Americans alive at the time, instead of some future population of nuclear winter survivors.

    I didn’t watch much of the debate yesterday, but did catch Trump’s part where he wished we had used “tremendous force” in Syria, which he believes would have somehow magically prevented the massive refugee crisis. Perhaps, in the truly heartless sense that many of them could have been killed instead (or simply ignored as “collateral damage”), or they would have eventually become refugees anyway, as happened with the Iraq War–though maybe the use of force there wasn’t “tremendous” enough either.

  24. blf says

    There was a Klown Konspiracy Konversation? Made no impact at all, other than to confirm there was a Komplete Konfusion Kockup by Konsiderable Klan Kooks of the Kontemptible Kill Kompletely division of Faux & Kochroach Bros., UnLimited.

  25. naturalcynic says

    Sounds like I spent my teevee time much more usefully watching PBS show a rerun of sage grouse huffing, puffing and blurting. Then Home naledi on NOVA. Except for that damn reflexive middle finger gesture when the name Charles Koch was announced at the beginning and end.

  26. Trebuchet says

    There was a Klown Konspiracy Konversation? Made no impact at all, other than to confirm there was a Komplete Konfusion Kockup by Konsiderable Klan Kooks of the Kontemptible Kill Kompletely division of Faux & Kochroach Bros., UnLimited.

    Are you from Port Townsend, WA? The Kinetic Skulpture Race is not for a couple of weeks yet.

    I not only watched both debates, but live-blogged them on the former JREF forum. My brain still hurts. The undercard was actually better than the main event, with Graham basically answering “WAR! WAR! WAR!” to every question. He’s SO proud of his military service. He was a friggin’ LAWYER in the Air Force.