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Friday Talking Points [269] -- The Debate Debate

[ Posted Friday, August 16th, 2013 – 17:22 PDT ]

We begin today with some awfully short memories, from both the Right and the Left, on the crossover subjects of presidential debates, television, and Hillary Clinton. It all stems from the news that the Republican National Committee has announced it will not sanction 2016 Republican candidate debates on CNN and NBC, because the two stations are both putting together movies about Hillary Clinton. The RNC feels that this will unacceptably prejudice the networks in the 2016 presidential race, in which Clinton is likely to be a Democratic candidate.

But in all the fulminating (both pro and con) over this decision, both sides seem to be suffering from memory loss -- specifically, the inability to harken back to the 2008 presidential race. On the Right, the hypocrisy stems from their previous support of a Hillary Clinton movie, and on the Left, the hypocrisy stems from not remembering when Democrats pulled out of a debate on Fox News.

We all know the term Citizens United, right? But how many remember that the case stemmed from a negative film titled Hillary: The Movie? At the heart of the court case where the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for money in politics was a film aired on DirecTV that portrayed Clinton in a very unflattering light. The Right, back then, fully supported not only the film, but the film's right to air during the campaign season. It was, they informed us, nothing more than the sacredness of "free speech." Now, the Right seems to be against the idea of Hillary Clinton films during a campaign. Haven't heard a single Republican stand up for the free speech rights of the filmmakers or CNN and NBC lately, have you?

But the Democrats have their own hypocrisy to face, as well. Sure, it's easy to slam the RNC for being afraid of holding debates on channels not to their liking, but it wasn't always the case. In fact, the two sides' positions were reversed, not so long ago. In February of 2007, Harry Reid announced his support for a Democratic presidential debate to be held in Reno (in his home state) to be hosted by Fox News. Here's a quote (all these quotes were taken from the book Bloggers On The Bus by Eric Boehlert, I should mention) from Harry: "This is more great news for Nevada. I'm happy Fox News will be a partner for the August [2008] presidential debate." What followed was an uprising online from the "netroots." By flexing their grassroots muscles, the online Left shamed the Nevada Democratic Party into reversing its stance and (helped by some extraordinarily bad jokes from Roger Ailes at a dinner speech), forced the Democrats to pull out of the debate by early March, 2007. Why allow Fox, after all, to host a debate for a political party they were so hostile towards? Fox pundits reacted by calling the grassroots effort "junior-grade Stalinism" and (from Bill O'Reilly) "propaganda techniques perfected by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of information." Roger Ailes himself bizarrely taunted: "The candidates that can't face Fox can't face Al Qaeda."

But the larger point remains: online bloggers and activists forced the Democrats to cancel a debate scheduled to air on Fox News. The Left cheered this as a victory. So it's a little hard to take seriously denunciations of the RNC's move this week to deny NBC and CNN debates. Once you've set the standard of "we get to choose which stations are friendly enough to us to air our debates," you can't very well turn around and denounce the other side for doing exactly the same thing.

Moving onward, there were a number of odd legal stories in the news last week. When torture victims from Abu Ghraib were denied their right to sue the contractor responsible for the torture, that was one thing. But, disgustingly, the contractor turned around and decided to sue the victims, for daring to sue them in court. That's right, they want $15,000 as "damages" from each of the torture victims. If that wasn't bad enough, the news that sexual assault cases in the military justice system are being dismissed because President Obama said he wanted such cases prosecuted was pretty shocking news as well. One final bit of legal news was a poll which showed that Americans overwhelmingly want to see the head of the National Security Agency prosecuted for perjuring himself in front of Congress on the whole "spying on our own citizens" thing, but I'm not exactly holding my breath waiting for that to happen, if you know what I mean. Haven't exactly heard the usual "rule of law" politicians clamoring for this to happen, either -- no surprise there.

To end our weekly wrapup on a more positive note, the police in Seattle, Washington deserve commendation for their tactics on the pro-pot "Hempfest" celebration. They've announced (are you sitting down?) that they'll be handing out Doritos to the crowd, with a message on the packets directing people to a web page titled "Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle." How cool is that? A department spokesman truly got into the spirit with the quote which ran in the article: "I think it's going to be a lot of fun. It's meant to be ironic. The idea of police passing out Doritos at a festival that celebrates pot, we're sure, is going to generate some buzz."

Heh. He said "buzz." Heh heh.

Seriously, though, with every passing week marijuana is getting more and more acceptable by the mainstream of political thought in America. Sanjay Gupta not only said he had been wrong about medical marijuana, but actually apologized for his previous stance. And the demographic group of pot smokers which is growing fastest seems to be the Baby Boomer seniors.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

While we have plenty of caveats (which were outlined in a column earlier this week) to add, we have to admit that Attorney General Eric Holder certainly took a bold step forward in ending the abuses of the War On Drugs in a speech he gave on Monday.

For the first time since the days of Nancy Reagan, a Democrat publicly stated that parts of the Drug War should be scrapped. This is a big deal, in other words. Holder's main target was the problem of mandatory minimum sentences, which have led the United States to now have 25 percent of the world's prison population, despite being only 5 percent of the world's population.

Holder's speech was followed later in the week by the U.S. Sentencing Commission voting to review all federal drug sentencing guidelines with an eye towards getting rid of the mandatory minimum problem -- showing the impact and reach of Holder's new policy ideas.

Eric Holder still has a long way to go in terms of reviving sanity in Washington on the subject of the War On Drugs, but he has taken a valuable first step on that path. The next step he really needs to take is to announce how the Justice Department is going to react to the states of Colorado and Washington, who are currently implementing legalized recreational marijuana -- and about which, Holder has been mum for the past nine months (and counting).

But for now, for the first step he announced this week, our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to none other than Attorney General Eric Holder. Let's keep moving along this path, Mr. Attorney General, and not just stop at the first step.

[Since he doesn't provide direct contact information, you'll have to congratulate Attorney General Eric Holder via the White House contact page, to let his boss know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Sigh. He just won't go away.

Our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award this week is really self-explanatory. As the count of accusers grows to 15, the following headline really shoveled the last load of dirt on the political career of the current mayor of San Diego:

"Great-Grandmother Accuses Bob Filner Of Harassment."

There's really not a lot more that needs be said, with a headline like that.

[Contact San Diego Mayor Bob Filner on his official contact page , to let him know what you think of his actions (and, you know, suggest that he immediately resign).]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 269 (8/16/13)

Kind of a mixed bag this week. August is always a slow month, what with everyone being on vacation to escape the Washington miasma.

 

1
   The establishment GOP strikes back

Republican-on-Republican fear-mongering is such a treat to enjoy. In this case, establishment Republicans versus the Tea Party.

"I see that many Republicans are now arguing -- with their own party -- that a government shutdown over funding Obamacare is not just a bad political move, it could in fact cost them their control of the House of Representatives in 2014. Will Republicans go over the shutdown cliff? Who knows, at this point. But if they do, it's interesting that some of them realize that this would not exactly be popular and would, in fact, cost them a whole lot of votes next year. It'll be interesting to see whether saner heads will prevail among House Republicans next month."

 

2
   GOP fear-mongering itself (part two)

I wrote about this in much more detail earlier in the week. It's debatable whether Democrats should pile on this one or not, but I thought I'd offer it up anyway.

"Marco Rubio seems to be having a problem convincing the House Republicans to move on the immigration reform bill which passed with a large bipartisan majority in the Senate. He's now threatening them by warning that President Obama will just wave a magic pen and legalize all eleven million undocumented immigrants if his bill doesn't pass. He's telling his fellow Republicans that it would be far better for the bill to pass with all the things he and his fellow Republicans added to it, rather than do nothing and watch Obama give everybody amnesty anyway. I don't know if this will work, but Republicans are usually pretty good at fear-mongering, so hopefully Rubio's argument will be convincing over in the House."

 

3
   I guess Stalin and Goebbels are OK, when our side does it

It'd be pretty easy to research this one to mine plenty more quotes from the period (February/March 2007).

"When the Democratic party pulled out of a presidential primary debate to be held on Fox News, back in 2007, rightwing commentators went apoplectic. This week, the Republicans announced they won't be having any debates on CNN or NBC. Back then, people on Fox were calling the move, quote, junior-grade Stalinism, unquote, and Bill O'Reilly compared the move to 'propaganda techniques perfected by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of information.' So what, exactly is different now? Are the Republicans now exhibiting the characteristics of Stalin and Goebbels? Or were they just being blowhards, back then?"

 

4
   Fleeing the sinking ship

This one should really strike fear in Republican hearts, so feel free to point it out as often as possible.

"Republicans lost the African-American vote decades ago, with their Southern Strategy. They lost the gay vote back in all the "marriage protecting" of the 1990s. They've lost the Latino vote in the past few elections. They've been doing their damnedest to drive women away from their party in the past few years, with the ongoing War On Women. But the final nail in the coffin may now be showing itself -- Republicans seem to now be losing one of their last demographic bastions: seniors. A recent poll showed that pretty much across the board, seniors' support of the Republican Party is fading fast. Seems all that talk about cutting entitlements is having a big impact. If I were a Republican, I would be extremely worried about this trend, because if it continues, the Republican Party is never going to win another national election again."

 

5
   The deficit keeps falling

Obama is (one year late, but still...) about to fulfill a big campaign promise he made. So point it out!

"Republicans are going to return to Congress next month and try to argue that the federal budget is getting worse. In fact, what is happening is the annual budget deficit is coming down at a record rate. This fiscal year's deficit is now on track to do exactly what President Obama promised he would do out on the campaign trail -- halve the federal deficit. He inherited a budget which had a record-high $1.4 trillion deficit when he entered office. If the next few months happen as predicted, the 2013 budget deficit will be less than half that. This is something to keep in mind when Republicans start their usual rending of shirts over the deficit while pushing unpopular austerity measures -- because the deficit is already falling at a record pace."

 

6
   Let the sun shine in

This one's just a feel-good story, really. Or a monument to wasted time, perhaps.

"I see that the White House is getting outfitted with solar panels. Of course, this isn't the first time solar panels were installed on the building -- because that happened under Jimmy Carter. Let's hope this time that some Republican won't come along later and rip them out in a fit of pique, the way that Ronald Reagan did."

 

7
   Pass the munchies, man

Give credit where credit is due.

"I think the police department in Seattle deserves recognition this week for their brilliant public relations move. The cops not only participated in the first Hempfest in Seattle since Washington state legalized recreational marijuana use, they did so with a public awareness campaign which pointed people to a website which clearly explained how the new laws will work, and what is allowed and not allowed. But it wasn't just a good idea to spread the word, the real brilliance was in how they went about doing so. They passed out bags of Doritos with the website's information on them. This should be taught in the future as a textbook example of good PR -- how to both have fun with a subject while spreading public awareness as widely as possible. Whoever in the Seattle police force came up with the idea of a 'pass the munchies' campaign deserves a hefty raise."

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

20 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [269] -- The Debate Debate”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    Let me start out with a plus...

    Good call on the hypocrisy thing. Frankly I am torn on the whole Hillary Movie/RNC Debate thingy...

    I can see the points from both sides of the issue and they are all good points..

    So, I am gonna have to punt..

    But, as always, your perspective shows the hypocrisy on BOTH sides of the political spectrum.. Thereby showing once again how there is little difference between the Left and the Right...

    If that wasn't bad enough, the news that sexual assault cases in the military justice system are being dismissed because President Obama said he wanted such cases prosecuted was pretty shocking news as well.

    Actually, that's not so shocking.

    It's called "Undue Command Influence" and it's patently illegal in the US Military.

    As hard as it may seem to be, Obama should have just kept his mouth shut..

    I am somewhat disappointed not to see any mention of the Obama Rodeo Clown.. I have been holding my water til Friday, hoping to see your thoughts on it.

    Do you think it's as ridiculous as I do??? The NAACP wants to have the DOJ investigate A CLOWN!!!???

    The Democrats want ALL clowns to go to sensitivity training!!!!????

    Are you frakin' KIDDING me!!!!?????

    My gods, this is simply ridiculous!! We have some real and pressing problems facing this country and the Left is up in arms about a frakin' CLOWN!!???

    Whew.... OK, got that outta my system... :D

    They've been doing their damnedest to drive women away from their party in the past few years, with the ongoing War On Women.

    Again, I have to say how funny it is for the Party of Clinton and Filner to talk about the Right's alleged "War On Women"... :D

    It's not a "war" on anyone. It's just spin... One could easily spin about the Democrats "War On Newborn Babies"....

    The deficit keeps falling

    And the National Debt has remained EXACTLY the same for the the last 3 months....

    Something is rotten in Denmark...

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    It's not a "war" on anyone. It's just spin... One could easily spin about the Democrats "War On Newborn Babies"....

    ...and for twenty years they absolutely have. frankly, it's about time the left finally caught up. furthermore, the war on women has substantially more evidentiary support than accusations of hostility toward "babies." the left have not lobbied for reductions in maternity services or child care, for example.

    the right on the other hand absolutely have tried to restrict contraception, to limit rape and domestic abuse prosecution, to be more permissive of gender-biased pay and sexual harassment in the workplace, to mandate medically unnecessary and highly intrusive gynecological procedures while railing against the intrusions of "big government." and that's even before we get into the comments of folks like todd akin.

    so yes, the war on women is a way of politically spinning a series of facts and events. but the facts and events themselves are undeniable, which is the main reason why the meme has been successful.

    And the National Debt has remained EXACTLY the same for the the last 3 months....

    believe it or not, that's substantial progress. any deficit at all would cause the debt to grow, no matter how small. the only way to shrink the debt is to create a budget surplus (like clinton did) and not piss it away (like bush did). easier said than done.

    i'm first in line to criticize obama for things i think he's gotten wrong, but the federal budget is an area where he seems to genuinely be improving.

    JL

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    ...and for twenty years they absolutely have. frankly, it's about time the left finally caught up. furthermore, the war on women has substantially more evidentiary support than accusations of hostility toward "babies."

    Again, that's just spin...

    the left have not lobbied for reductions in maternity services or child care, for example.

    No, they just lobbied to give abortion services to teens and pre-teens w/o parental consent..

    It's all in the spin...

    believe it or not, that's substantial progress. any deficit at all would cause the debt to grow, no matter how small. the only way to shrink the debt is to create a budget surplus (like clinton did) and not piss it away (like bush did). easier said than done.

    I find it next to impossible that the Federal Debt hasn't changed ONE SINGLE PENNY in almost 3 months..

    And it's stuck RIGHT below the debt ceiling limit..

    Yea, I know.. The Left claims that "creative accounting" is responsible.. Let's have them take their tax forms to the IRS and tell them they used "creative accounting"...

    Let's see how that flies... :D

    Whew.... OK, got that outta my system... :D

    Apparently, I haven't, cuz something new just caught my eye...

    The Left wants the DOJ to investigate this clown... wait for it.... wait for it.... a HATE crime!!!

    Get that???

    A clown...

    HATE crime....

    ONLY the Democrats could come up with something so completely and utterly moronic!!

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Again, that's just spin...

    no, it's a political position supported by evidence from more than one issue. the right has made no effort to help fetuses after they're carried to term, only to prevent abortion. therefore, the evidence underlying the spin on that side stems only from one narrowly defined issue, which also happens to be inconsistent with that side's purported goals on other, related issues. the evidence underlying the war on women meme comes from many different issues and impacts many different areas of society, some (but far from all) of which i outlined above.

    I find it next to impossible that the Federal Debt hasn't changed ONE SINGLE PENNY in almost 3 months..

    is that actually the case? if so, perhaps that's not creative accounting but due to growth in revenue. don't take my word for it, ask that bastion of liberalism, the wall street journal:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324085304579008922578996940.html

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    is that actually the case?

    That's what I hear...

    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1020436?ref=feeds%2Flatest

    don't take my word for it, ask that bastion of liberalism, the wall street journal:

    I am assuming you forgot the {/snark} tag?? :D

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like Egypt is going to become another Syria....

    And to think everyone thought Obama's foreign policy was his best accomplishment.... :^/

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    the right has made no effort to help fetuses after they're carried to term, only to prevent abortion.

    Well, gee whiz, maybe that's because it's the PARENTS who should be doing that, eh??

    It's a sad day in this country when it's citizens expect the government to take over parenting...

    THAT is what's wrong with our society. Allegedly mature adults looking out for their OWN fun and play and letting the government, TV, Video Games etc etc raise their kids..

    Whatever happened to "personal responsibility"??

    Oh, that's right. This country is run by Democrats now.... :^/

    One only has to look at Detroit (ruled by Democrats since '62) turned out... :^/

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    On another note..

    A great big galactic Happy Birthday to The Great Bird Of The Galaxy...

  9. [9] 
    akadjian wrote:

    It all stems from the news that the Republican National Committee has announced it will not sanction 2016 Republican candidate debates on CNN and NBC

    No loss. It does surprise me a little bit that they're taking on CNN though. The network who is bending over backwards these days trying to outFox Fox.

    -David

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    The network who is bending over backwards these days trying to outFox Fox.

    You must be watching the Vulcan version of CNN... :D

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Well, gee whiz, maybe that's because it's the PARENTS who should be doing that, eh??

    yes, that is the right wing point of view, that the government does not have the responsibility to provide any assistance to new parents who are struggling, and they should be required to solve all their problems on their own. that is one point of view, but it's inconsistent with the other right wing point of view. ostensibly all the government intrusion into a woman's decision to have an abortion is to protect "babies" from poor parental decision-making.

    one cannot hold both points of view simultaneously and be internally consistent. either prospective parents get to take the responsibility and make their own decisions without government intervention, or the government has the right and duty to intervene in both pregnancy and child-rearing, OR the left are correct that fetuses and babies are absolutely not the same thing. any other combination cannot logically cohere.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    yes, that is the right wing point of view,

    I submit that it is a common sense and mature point of view reflective of an acknowledgement of personal responsibility...

    ostensibly all the government intrusion into a woman's decision to have an abortion is to protect "babies" from poor parental decision-making.

    Again, that is spin..

    It could ALSO be said it is government protection of human beings who simply cannot protect themselves..

    Something the Left ALSO espouses, when it suits their agenda..

    Don't get me wrong. You are preaching to the choir on the issue of abortion..

    I simply point out that ONE possible explanation for a Party's actions is not the *ONLY* possible explanation..

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    You are preaching to the choir

    If you'll forgive the expression... :D

  14. [14] 
    akadjian wrote:

    You must be watching the Vulcan version of CNN... :D

    Rather the Jeff Zucker version of CNN :)

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/13/us-usa-florida-shooting-television-idUSBRE96C05D20130713

    -David

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    OH yea, I read about that..

    But I don't see the connection between focusing on the Zimmerman trial and trying to be more Fox than Fox...

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    White House Had Advance Notice on Heathrow Detention
    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/19/white-house-had-advance-notice-on-heathrow-detention/?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

    Imagine the outcry from the Left if this had happened under the Bush Administration...

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    And another "what if it had happened under a Bush Administration" question...

    Obama administration asks Supreme Court to allow warrantless cellphone searches
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/08/19/obama-administration-asks-supreme-court-to-allow-warrantless-cellphone-searches/?print=1

    Ya'all simply don't realize the pretty pickle ya will be in under a future GOP POTUS...

    All the things ya'all loved to complain about and condemn during the Bush years will be off limits under the next GOP Pres...

    It's gonna be interesting to see the dynamics that will be at work.

  18. [18] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [1] -

    On Undue Command Influence, I must admit I'd never heard of it before, but then I am ignorant of most of the UCMJ, so you'll have to forgive me.

    On the clown thing, he got fired, lefties said some silly things (according to you, but I'll take your word for it), righties said some silly things, and it died down. I refused to take the bait, because in August if you highlight silly stories sometimes they grow beyond all recognition, and I didn't think the story merited that treatment. I could be wrong, I did indeed consider tossing it in there, I will admit...

    It's not a "war" on anyone. It's just spin...

    [Hypothetically conceding your point for the sake of argument]... ah, but it's such good spin! It is Friday after all, and microscopically examining spin is what we do here.

    :-)

    See, it was more fun for me to answer that then to argue the whole "spin" thing, wasn't it? Heh.

    Michael [8] -

    The Great Bird of the Galaxy? Do tell...

    The closest I can come is the Bird in Robert A. Heinlein's "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" but I just know that can't be right...

    -CW

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    On Undue Command Influence, I must admit I'd never heard of it before, but then I am ignorant of most of the UCMJ, so you'll have to forgive me.

    It boils down to a Commander indicating what he WANTS to happen, rather than what SHOULD happen based on the evidence.

    If Colonel David Miller (Bradley Manning's CO) we're to be asked what should happen to Manning and Miller answers, "I think we should throw him in jail and lose the key!" that would be a textbook example of Undue Command Influence.

    On the clown thing, he got fired, lefties said some silly things (according to you, but I'll take your word for it), righties said some silly things, and it died down. I refused to take the bait, because in August if you highlight silly stories sometimes they grow beyond all recognition, and I didn't think the story merited that treatment. I could be wrong, I did indeed consider tossing it in there, I will admit...

    OK, OK... But there is "silly" and there is downright ridiculous...

    And wanting the clown prosecuted for a "Hate Crime" (Clown... Hate... get it?? :D) is utterly and unequivocally ridiculous...

    [Hypothetically conceding your point for the sake of argument]... ah, but it's such good spin!

    Touche'..

    And yes, it's great spin.. :D

    The Great Bird of the Galaxy? Do tell...

    For shame!!!

    10 hours in the Agony Booth* for you!!!

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Great_Bird_of_the_Galaxy

    *-Of course, we're more humane in Weigantia than in the Mirror Universe.. In Weigantia, the "Agony Booth" is a sealed chamber with a computer screen that shows nothing but Michale comments...

    OK... Maybe NOT so more humane :D

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:
Comments for this article are closed.