Trump Mocked for Partnering with Putin on Cyber Security as ‘Dumbest Idea’ Ever

Donald Trump just returned from his latest Embarrassing America World Tour. And even before deplaning in D.C., he has managed to aggravate his own party for some typically Trumpian idiocy.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

During the highly anticipated meeting with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, Trump reportedly raised the issue of election tampering. However, his approach completely failed to hold Putin to account. Trump tiptoed into the subject by phrasing it as something that concerns the American people. He never asserted that it was of concern to him. And, of course, it wasn’t, judging by his public comments on it. Once at home, Trump felt comfortable to post his latest feelings on Twitter:

Well, then. Since he pressed it twice. I’m pretty sure that’s how professionals in law enforcement handle these things. They ask the suspect twice if he committed the murder, and if he denies it, they let him go. As for Trump’s assertion that he has already given his own opinion, that’s true. He did so again a few days ago when he said:

“I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure.”

That certainly clears things up, doesn’t it? And now that the whole election hacking scandal is wrapped up, we can move on to other pressing matters. For instance, Trump announced that he and Putin have agreed to set up a cyber security operation to prevent future electronic intrusions. Trump tweeted that:

What a grand idea. Let’s collaborate with the guy who ordered the election hacking in the first place on scheme to keep others from doing it. In other words, let’s give the burglar the keys to the front door and the times we will be out walking the dog. Makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s so brilliant that even Trump’s colleagues in the Republican Party had something to say about it.

Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that “Partnering with Putin on a “Cyber Security Unit” is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit.'” Sen. Lindsey Graham said that working with Putin to combat cyber crimes is “pretty close” to “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” And Sen. John McCain snarked that “I’m sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort, since he is doing the hacking.” If that’s how Republicans are responding, needless to say the rest of the nation is at least equally dismayed. For instance, Twitter is afire with sarcastic analogies:

None of this matters to Trump. He’s still obsessed with why Obama allegedly “did nothing” about the Russian hacking that he still thinks is fake news. Trump’s PR offensive is fanning out to the Sunday news programs to spread illogical talking points. His Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, insists that “The President absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin.” Of course not. Trump asserted the same denial before ever talking to Putin. Then his U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said that “Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections” Well, everybody but Trump, who still claims that “Nobody really knows for sure.” Why is his top diplomat contradicting him?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This would all be great material for Saturday Night Live if it weren’t so dangerous for America’s future. Trump is now going beyond merely letting Putin off the hook. He’s inviting our enemy into the situation room so he can get a better look at our defenses. It would be generous to say that this only borders on treason. And Trump’s Republican Party appears to be in complete accord with this betrayal. The question is, what will it take for the GOP to stand up for America’s sovereignty? And will they do it before even more serious damage is done?

UPDATE: Trump posted another tweet on this subject:

So Trump spoke with the man who orchestrated the election tampering without making him pay any price for subverting democracy. And now we learn that he wasted much of that time on an idiotic plan to partner with Putin on cyber security that he didn’t even think was possible. This just keeps getting worse.

Fact Checkers Scorch Donald Trump’s Lie-Riddled Debate Performance

Last night’s debate on CNN showcased once again that the field of Republicans is jam-packed with whimpering, infantile candidates who are wholly unprepared to lead a bunny hop, much less lead a nation. It’s hard to imagine that, after watching that spectacle, anyone can picture any of these colicky brats with America’s nuclear missile launch codes.

Bawl-Apalooza

As usual, Donald Trump dominated the brawl with his trademark insults and incessantly repetitive branding (“Make America build a wall of guns for Jesus, losers”). At this point it would probably be easier to list examples of Trump saying something truthful than to enumerate the many outright falsehoods he spews. But it wouldn’t be as much fun. Here are some of the blatant lies, as documented by Factcheck.org, that are contributing to the ever-growing Trump Bullshitopedia:

  1. Ted Cruz nailed Trump in an exchange where Trump denied that he had ever said he favored a health care plan that would be paid for by the government. In fact, that’s exactly what he told 60 Minutes just last year when he said that “Everybody’s gonna be taken care” and that “the government’s gonna pay for it.”
  2. Marco Rubio got his shots in by revealing that Trump had lost a million dollar lawsuit over his hiring of foreign workers. Trump whined that Rubio was “totally wrong,” except that he wasn’t.
  3. Trump claimed that he could not release his tax returns because they are being audited. This lie has several layers. First of all, he has been saying for months that he would release his tax returns “soon” without ever mentioning any audits. It seems like a convenient fabrication someone just thought of to try to get people to stop asking the question. Secondly, there is nothing preventing him from releasing his returns even if there is an audit in progress. And finally, he claims that he has been audited continuously for the past twelve years, so this lame excuse could actually mean that he will never release his tax returns because the audits could go on for years to come. – – – As an addendum to the tax return/audit lies, Trump told CNN that he believes the IRS may be auditing him because he is a “strong Christian.” Really? He thinks the IRS has it in for Christians? And how did they know he was one twelve years before he ever said anything about his alleged faith?
  4. Another feather in Cruz’s tri-corner hat was earned when he challenged Trump’s assertion that he had “never discussed” Libya or advocated removing Gadhafi from power. He apparently forgot that time he discussed it on his own website saying that “I can’t believe what our country is doing. Gadhafi, in Libya, is killing thousands of people…We should stop this guy…Immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out.”
  5. Here’s an oldie that has been debunked many times. Trump is fond of lying that Americans and American businesses pay the highest taxes in the world. That just isn’t true. It’s not even close.

As an added bonus, here is an item that isn’t technically a lie, but is frighteningly repugnant. At a post-debate rally Trump reminded his cultish followers about how bitterly he hates the media. And then he disclosed what he would do to his enemies in the press given the opportunity:

“One of the things I’m gonna do if I win… I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money…With me they’re not protected because I’m not like other people…So we’re going to open up those libel laws, folks, and we’re gonna have people sue you like you’ve never been sued before.”

In other words, Trump intends to repeal the First Amendment and, through his power as president, threaten and attack the press. Thin-skinned crybabies like Trump may not like any negative attention they get, but it is a Constitutional right for the media to have the freedom to express themselves. And like most rightist Republicans, they only revere the Constitution (or the bible) when they can interpret it to coincide with their preconceptions. It is the way cultists operate. See Fox News…

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Death Of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Is Instantly Politicized By Callous Republicans

The sudden and unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has produced a flurry of reactions from across the political spectrum. Everyone offering a comment has begun with praise for his public service and intellect, and expressions of condolences for his family.

Antonin Scalia

Unfortunately, Republicans have wasted no time in turning this personal tragedy into a political opportunity. GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (also members of the Senate) added to their sympathies a demand that President Obama refrain from nominating a replacement and leave that to whoever is president in January of 2017. Others, including Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds the power to vote or not, have made similar demands. After offering her condolences, Hillary Clinton responded to the GOP by saying that their intention to leave the seat vacant dishonors our Constitution.

There are several problems with the Republican’s overt obstructionism, starting with the fact that it is the constitutional duty of the President to nominate a replacement when there is a vacancy. It would be wholly inappropriate for him to simply ignore that obligation for political purposes. The Senate could refuse to confirm the nominee, or even allow it to come up for a vote. Of course, that would be an abdication of their constitutional duty, but they could do it. The President, however, should not be complicit with that negligence. The Founders intended the Supreme Court to reflect the mood of the nation as represented by the chief executive — not the mood of the nation as represented by the chief executive unless he’s in the last year of his administration.

Another reason that the President should nominate a replacement as soon as possible, and the Senate should confirm, is that this year the Supreme Court has a particularly heavy calendar. There are many cases waiting to be heard, and some are critical issues that will have far reaching effect. The litigants ought not to be penalized by self-serving politicians. And there has never been a vacancy on the Supreme Court for a year, which is what the GOP obstructionists are proposing. Some of the decisions to be made by the court this term could…

  • Limit the ability of unions to collectively bargain (Friedrichs).
  • Further restrict the use of race in college admissions (Fisher).
  • Drastically limit the ability of people to band together in class actions to stop corporate wrongdoing (Spokeo, Campbell-Ewald, Tyson Foods).
  • Dismantle environmental regulations (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).
  • Expand the scope of forced arbitration (DIRECTV and Zaborowski).
  • Further undermine the voting rights of communities of color in urban areas (Evenwel).
  • Sanction far-right efforts to radically restrict women’s abortion rights and ability to obtain contraceptive medical coverage (Whole Woman’s Health and Zubik).

If a new justice is not confirmed, the pending cases would be heard by a short-handed court. And since this court has been divided ideologically with a five to four conservative advantage, there is a great possibility of frequent ties should this vacancy remain. In the event of a 4/4 tie, the ruling of the lower court would stand. From the Republican perspective, this might not be to their advantage. After eight years of the Obama presidency the district courts currently have a majority of Democratic nominated judges. Consequently, those lower court rulings may be more to the liking of liberals. So any effort by the GOP to obstruct the confirmation of a new nominee by Obama may have the opposite effect of what they intend. Senate Republicans also risk the possibility that they will not be in the majority next year and the next president, if Democratic, would have far more leeway in who they nominate.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The bottom line is that our government is supposed to work on behalf of the people, not at the whim of the politicians. By obstructing Obama’s constitutional mandate, Republicans would only further cement the impression of them as fomenting division and gridlock. In an election year where the public is fed up with political game-playing, that will likely hurt Republicans at the polls. On the plus side, it might finally elevate the appointment of Supreme Court justices as an election issue. That would be a good thing that should have happened long ago.

Update: President Obama offered his condolences. He also responded to the GOP’s irresponsible and callous politicization of Scalia’s passing, saying in part that…

“Today is a time to remember Justice Scalia’s legacy. I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. And there will be plenty of time for me to so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility and to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They are bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy.”

Rupert Murdoch’s Downright Delusional Twit-Tastic Debate Analysis

Rupert Murdoch is the corporate overlord of one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world. That empire provides him with a vast array of platforms from which to express his extreme rightist ideology. And yet the man who created Donald Trump (and is now his slave) cannot seem to stop himself from posting the sort of stunted half-thoughts that flourish on Twitter.

Donald Trump Rupert Murdoch

The morning after the ABC broadcast of the Republican primary debate in New Hampshire Murdoch was especially chatty. He unleashed a series of tweets that left an impossibly positive impression of his experience of the debate. You really have to wonder what debate he was watching, because his comments seemed astonishingly removed from reality. Let’s have a look.

The first Murdoch tweet was both a general compliment to all of the Republican candidates and a slap at the Democrats. He said “All candidates lifted game last night. Everyone seemed better than alternative Dems.”

This is the first indication that Murdoch has totally lost it. He’s talking about a debate that began with the most hilariously screwed-up introduction ever, wherein Ben Carson and Donald Trump appeared to have been cast into a trance that froze them in their tracks. And it just got worse from there. He didn’t bother to elaborate on why he thought the Dems were so unappealing, but since he is the chief honcho of Fox News we can just assume he’s on auto-hate of everything liberalish.

The next tweet was a bit more specific. He said “Trump better, somewhat contained and more presidential. Rubio inspirational speaker, a winner. But does he have real depth of knowledge?”

If this was Murdoch’s idea of Trump being “more presidential” than I would be curious to see what he regards as appropriate presidential demeanor. Trump was booed repeatedly for boorish behavior including shushing Jeb Bush and insulting the audience. Apparently Murdoch admires a leader who would shush visiting dignitaries and insult voters. As for Rubio’s “inspirational” speaking, that must have been when he masterfully repeated the same memorized catch phrase at least four times as if stuck in tape loop.

The next tweet covered another couple of candidates. Murdoch said “Cruz a great debater performed well, but why do all long-term acquaintances distrust him? Jeb Bush best yet. Easily visualise him in WH.”

Presumably Murdoch was praising Cruz’s debating skills such as when brazenly lied about how he sabotaged Ben Carson in Iowa by inventing a rumor that Carson had dropped out of the race. Or maybe it was when he couldn’t decide whether he loved waterboarding enough to actually use it. And if Murdoch doesn’t know yet why Cruz is so universally disliked, he really needs to come out from under that rock every now and then. As for Murdoch’s tribute to Bush, it was such empty praise that he couldn’t manage to provide an example of why Bush was so much better than ever before.

The next tweet was just more of the same substanceless blather. He said “Christie the tough bullying prosecutor. Not much on big issues. Kasich the safe moderate, everyone’s Vice President. Carson also best yet.”

It’s interesting to see Murdoch actually criticize someone. Especially Christie considering that he was personally lobbied to run for president in 2012 by Murdoch’s lieutenant Roger Ailes. Not surprisingly, Murdoch was soft on Kasich for the very reason he stated: Kasich is (allegedly) a moderate. And once again, He couldn’t explain what Carson did that was such a big improvement despite his obvious blunders. I guess he had already set the bar pretty low.

Finally, Murdoch went off an a tangential tweet to condemn all of the candidates for a shared failing. He said “All really failed to understand immensity of global Muslim problem. No easy answers, but Middle East just a forerunner to sub-Sahara Africa.”

This tells us where Fox News gets its rampant hatred of Muslims (i.e. from the top). Murdoch just hauls off at something he calls a “global Muslim problem” as if it were an outbreak of Ebola, and not a racist assault on 1.2 billion people, most of whom are peace-loving folks who have the very same hopes and dreams for themselves and their families as anyone else.

This Twitter rant exposes Murdoch’s obvious biases, both politically and personally. The fact that he can run a “news” network that is laughably described as “fair and balanced” without being ostracized from the ranks of honest journalists is testimony to how distorted the media has become. Of course, anyone who has paid much attention to Fox News already realizes that it is nothing but a propaganda outlet that seeks to disinform the already intellectually weak and frighten them into a state where they can be manipulated – just like any other cult.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.


A Cloud Behind Every Silver Lining: GOP Candidates And Fox News Slam Iranian Prisoner Release

The news this morning that up to six Americans incarcerated in Iran have been released ought to be met with gladness and relief. These people have suffered for more than a year as prisoners convicted of dubious crimes. Today their families got the news they have been hoping for and are gathering to celebrate freedom.

Fox News Alert

Sadly, that celebration is not being shared by Fox News or the Republican candidates for president. Their lock-step determination to find fault with President Obama no matter the circumstances takes precedence over actual events or the national interest of the country. These “patriots” will never miss an opportunity to run down America or make it look bad in the eyes of the world.

So despite the fact that Fox News has been using the Iranian prisoners for months to accuse President Obama of weakness, they are now framing the release as a hostage swap that benefits the Iranians. Fox reporter Catherine Herridge described it as “short-term elation, but long-term pain.” Fox contributor John Bolton called it “a diplomatic debacle for the United States.” In reality, it’s just another example of the Fox News lose/lose approach to reporting on the President. If he were to cure cancer they would complain that it was a socialist attack on pharmaceutical companies that cost hard-working oncologists their jobs.

And the circus of GOP aspiring presidential clowns could not rush to a microphone quickly enough to criticize the freedom arranged by the Obama administration. From their reactions you might have thought that the news was reporting that Americans were captured rather than freed.

Ted Cruz: We don’t know the details of the deal that is bringing them home. And then it may well be that there are some very problematic aspects to this deal.

Marco Rubio: We should not be involved in swaps. These things should never happen is my point. […] I think this has created incentives for more governments to do this around the world.

Donald Trump: I will tell you, it’s a disgrace that they’ve been there for so long. It’s a disgrace. Remember that. A total disgrace.

Mike Huckabee: They should’ve been released before we ever sat down at the negotiating table.

Chris Christie: We shouldn’t have to swap prisoners, these folks were taken illegally in violation of international law and they should have been released without condition.

Jeb Bush: I would say … if you do not release them, that there’s going to be military action, that that’s an act of provocation, an act of war.

Clearly these folks would have preferred a full-on war with Iran rather than diplomacy. They would have opted to send more Americans to fight and die in a Middle East quagmire. And the fact that the Obama administration successfully negotiated the freedom of our Americans in Iran is greeted with rancor instead of praise. It was the same reaction they had to the sailors who were held briefly after drifting into Iranian waters. The right-wingers considered it an act of war and were rattling their swords in hysterics. Obama resolved the matter with a phone call and the sailors went on their way in few hours. Just imagine if one of those cretins were actually president during these incidents.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

At the very least the Fox News/GOP knee-jerks could have joined the families this weekend to appreciate their long-awaited reunion with loved ones, and returned to their partisan vitriol on Monday. But that’s not how Republicans, or Fox News work.

Republicans Hate Obama/Clinton So Much It Makes Them Stupid

Last night’s Republican debate was so tightly managed and rehearsed that it revealed almost nothing about any of the candidates. That is, unless you weren’t already aware that they hate President Obama, Hillary Clinton, immigrants, taxes, healthcare, Muslims, and generally believe that America is weak and in danger of being destroy forever by some desert rats. Other than that…

Clinton Beats GOP

The severity of the GOP contempt for all things Democratic and progressive was in abundant display. So much so that it was causing the debaters to articulate a cacophony of utterly asinine rhetoric aimed at the absent objects of their disaffection. And as a public service, News Corpse has compiled a few of the worst mind farts of the evening.

Chris Christie starts us off with a chilling threat for the President saying that “We are going to kick your butt out of the White House come this fall.”

I’m sure Obama is shaking in his boots. Even though he knows that he will be living in the presidential abode until next winter. And when he leaves it will be because his second term has expired and not because of anything that Christie or his GOP goons might do. What’s more, there is a better than even shot that the next resident of the White House will be another Democrat, but a decidely long shot that it would be Christie.

Donald Trump is next and, as usual, gives us a rich buffet of stupid from which to choose. For now I’ll go with his answer to the question “Are there any circumstances that you think we should be limiting gun sales of any kind in America?” Trump said abruptly “NO!”

So The Donald is cool with the the unlimited sales of assault weapons, semi-automatics, automatics, grenade launchers, howitzers, etc. Additionally, his answer stipulates no limits on either guns or sales. So purchasers can be felons, or domestic abusers, or mentally ill, or terrorists. This is the sort of answer that can only come from someone who hasn’t bothered to think through the question. And wouldn’t that be a great attribute for a president?

Jeb Bush exhibited a unique form of delusion saying that “The idea that somehow we’re better off today than the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated president of the United States is totally an alternative universe.”

Does Jeb have the ability to recall that day seven years ago? The economy had just suffered its worst decline since the Great Depression. The stock market lost almost half its value. Unemployment soared to 10%. And some of the nations biggest financial and manufacturing concerns had to be bailed out by the government or disappear. Since then the stock market has more than doubled (even with the declines that occurred this week). Unemployment is down to 5%. America’s auto industry had its best year ever in 2015. Osama Bin Laden is quite dead, along with hundreds of other Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders. And yet, Bush seems to wish that we could return to the precarious position that his brother put the nation in due to his shoddy economic policies, tax cuts for rich, and embarking on two wars.

Marco Rubio is among the right-wingers who believe that there is nothing to fear but let’s all be afraid anyway. He fretted that “There is a war against ISIS, not just against ISIS but against radical jihadists terrorists, and it is a war that they win or we win.”

This is the same nonsense propounded by the rest of the GOP field. They actually think that under some bizarre circumstance ISIS could defeat the United States and compel our surrender. That is just ludicrous. Sure, they can do serious harm to individuals with terrorist tactics, but that’s a long way from a military defeat. The combined forces of Germany, Italy, and Japan could not beat the U.S. Only a an idiot would think that ISIS can.

Ben Carson didn’t add much to this debate. But he did preface his first answer by saying that “I’m very happy to get a question this early on. I was going to ask you to wake me up when that time came.”

The good doctor should know better than to open with a joke about falling asleep when the single most ridiculed part od his persona is that he seems to be on the verge of slumber at all times.

Ted Cruz seemed to think it would be a good idea to insult everyone in New York saying derisively that “I think most people know exactly what New York values are.”

Not only does that demean some twenty million Americans, it gave Trump an opening to play the 9/11 card. But this attitude isn’t new. Republicans have been openly hostile to much of America just because of political differences. They also hate Hollywood, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Austin, Chicago, Boston, and more. It’s a peculiar brand of selective patriotism.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

These are the candidates that Republicans have to choose from. For the time being being they seem to be leaning toward the goofiest one in the bunch. And they don’t seem to care that Trump has based his entire campaign on self-exaltation, insults and lies (see the Trump Bullshitopedia). Maybe Republican voters are simply settling for Trump because the rest of the roster is equally ridiculous. They have resigned themselves to the fate that, if we’re gonna be stuck a preposterous candidate, why not go for the gold?

GOP Debate Lowlights Featuring Donald Trump’s ‘Sarah Palin Moment’

Fox Business Network is patting itself on the back for pulling off the most boring primary debate to date (transcript). They led the candidates through what amounted to a two hour Republican infomercial. The moderators were so detached that when Donald Trump flew off on a tangent about China in response to a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, they failed to inform him that China was not a party to the deal. Rand Paul stepped in to correct the record, but they never followed up to get a straight answer from Trump.

And speaking of Donald Trump, he contributed some of the most hair-brained comments of the evening. Most notably, Trump may have delivered what will become his “Sarah Palin Moment.” He was asked what he would do in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Trump said “I got to know [Vladimir Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes.” That’s about as delusional as Palin’s belief that her geographical proximity to Russia gave her insight into the region’s labyrinthine complexities.

The Republican Foreign Policy Dream Team:
Donald Trump Sarah Palin

Furthermore, Trump never actually met Putin who taped his 60 Minutes segment in Moscow. Trump was interviewed in his Manhattan penthouse. So what he meant by being “stablemates” is incomprehensible. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that he was being deliberately misleading.

In addition to his fudging a close relationship with Putin, Trump came out against raising the minimum wage because he thinks that people “have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum.” He continued saying that if wages were higher it would make the U.S. less competitive. In other words, he expects American labor to compete with the slave-wage earners of China and other nations that abuse their working class. That should make a good campaign bumper sticker.

But a Trump rant wouldn’t be complete without his descending into rancid bigotry. And Trump didn’t disappoint. While answering a question about his utterly ludicrous proposal to round up and deport eleven million undocumented residents, Trump sought to validate his approach by comparing it to a program implemented by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. And as if to put a sunny disposition on the controversial program, Trump introduced the comparison with a reminder of Eisenhower’s chummy campaign slogan, “I like Ike.” What Trump left out is that Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback (yes, that was what it was called) resulted in dozens of fatalities and a taint of racism. Approximately 1.2 million people were deported to rural areas of Mexico with none of their possessions or other resources necessary to survive. Trump is calling for ten times as many deportations and still won’t explain how he will do it.

Now we don’t want to pick on Trump exclusively. Ben Carson also indicated his opposition to raising the minimum wage saying that “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.” Once again, Carson is pulling data out of a human body part far removed from area that he generally operated on. There is ample evidence that raising the minimum wage has no negative impact whatsoever on job creation. But not satisfied with merely misstating reality, Carson went on to actually call for lowering the minimum wage for some workers.

Marco Rubio weighed in on the matter of wages and education. Apparently he is not too anxious to encourage Americans to seek higher education. Consequently, he advocated for vocational training as opposed to college. Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with vocational schools, which may be superior alternatives for some students. But Rubio reduced the argument to “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” However, Rubio’s argument is not based in reality. The median salary for philosophy professors is almost $64,000. The median salary for welders is about $37,400. And philosophy majors (who often go into many other lines of work where an understanding of people and society is required) command higher average salaries throughout their careers. We need both welders and philosophers, but no one should be persuaded based on dishonest applause lines from self-serving politicians.

Rand Paul’s breakout moment in the debate came during a discussion on income inequality when he said that “If you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor.” Not surprisingly, this is another Republican distortion of the truth. Of the ten states with the worst income inequality gaps, six are run by Republicans. Do these people ever get tired of being wrong?

Apparently not. Because Carly Fiorina joined the parade in a rant against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She inexplicably said that “We’ve created something called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a vast bureaucracy with no congressional oversight that’s digging through hundreds of millions of your credit records to detect fraud.” What Fiorina considers a “vast bureaucracy” is a relatively small agency with fewer than 1,000 employees. For comparison, the IRS has about 90,000. What’s more, it has the same measure of congressional oversight of almost every other federal agency. It’s director must be confirmed by the Senate, and it is subject to budgetary constraints imposed by Congress. Finally, you’ll have to ask her what she finds so offensive about uncovering fraud and protecting America’s consumers.

To give credit where it’s due, there some questions that where genuinely probing and worthwhile. Sadly, not one of them got a direct answer. The candidates exercised the old debate strategy of not answering the question you are asked, but the question you wish you were asked. And the moderators did nothing in the way of follow ups to attempt to get a responsive answer. Here are three outstanding, and unanswered, questions:

Gerard Baker, Wall Street Journal: Now, in seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you’ll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?

Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business: [Hillary Clinton] was the first lady of the United States, a U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state under Barack Obama. She has arguably more experience, certainly more time in government than almost all of you on stage tonight. Why should the American people trust you to lead this country, even though she has been so much closer to the office?

Baker: Income inequality has been rising in the United States. Fifty years ago, for example, the average CEO of a big corporation in this country earned 20 times the average salary of one of his or her workers. Today, that CEO earns about 300 times the average salary of a worker. Does it matter at all that the gap between the rich and everyone else is widening?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This debate was a peculiar creature from the start. The Fox Business Network has program ratings so low that Nielsen doesn’t even publish them. The only explanation is that it was a gift from the Republican Party to Rupert Murdoch and the Fox News family. As it turns out, it was a generous gift in that the debate drew a record number of viewers (13,500,000) for the tiny network. Although it was still the smallest audience of any of the debates held so far this election cycle. The next debates are scheduled for November 14 (Democrats on CBS) and December 15 (GOP on CNN).

What We Learned From The GOP’s Trainwreck Debate On CNBC: Republicans Hate The ‘Liberal’ Media

In the best of circumstances, a political debate should be illuminating in a manner that allows voters to assess the fitness of candidates for public office. However, the best that can be said about the Republican primary debate on CNBC (transcript) is that it illuminated the rabid opportunism of the candidates and the penchant for provocation on the part of the moderators.

CNBC GOP Debate

While there was an attempt by the moderators to inject some substance into their questions, they inexplicably capped their queries with an inappropriate zinger that only left them wide open for criticism. For example, John Harwood constructed a perfectly legitimate question for Donald Trump that called on him to explain how his wall building, tax slashing, immigrant deporting policies could be achieved without wreaking havoc on the economy. But then Harwood finished off with “Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?” Regardless of the aptness of the imagery, the only conceivable purpose for that framing would be to give Trump something to complain about. This pretentious strategy was repeated throughout the debate.

And the complaints veritably gushed from debaters who were eager to hear some reasonable questions and avoid answering them (which they did all night). The backlash directed at the media and the moderators easily became the dominant feature of the debate, and it was almost the only thing that was discussed in the post-debate analyses. The most replayed moments included Marco Rubio tagging the mainstream media as a SuperPAC for the Democrats, and Ted Cruz lamenting that “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.” Consequently, the only takeaway from this debate was that Republicans hate the media, something everybody already knows.

Cruz went on to argue that the media treated Democrats differently, “fawning” over “Which of you is more handsome and wise?” That characterization of the Democratic debate is wholly inconsistent with reality. From the transcript of their CNN outing, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Democrats the following questions:

  • [To Clinton] Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency. […] Will you say anything to get elected?
  • [To Sanders] A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?
  • [To O’Malley] Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what’s going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?
  • [To Clinton] Russia, they’re challenging the U.S. in Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, they’ve lied about who they’re bombing. You spearheaded the reset with Russia. Did you underestimate the Russians?

Those were not fawning, softball questions by any stretch of the imagination. But Republicans only retain information that comports with their preconceptions. Therefore, the liberal media is invariably portrayed as fiercely pro-Democrat and virulently anti-Republican. What’s more, the conservatives never apply the same standards to their benefactors at Fox News, to whom they still suck up despite the tough questioning they got when Fox hosted their debate.

One of the more shameful exchanges of the CNBC debate was when Becky Quick posed this query to Trump: “You had talked a little bit about Marco Rubio. I think you called him Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator because he was in favor of the H1B.” Trump interrupted to insist that “I never said that. I never said that.” So Quick quickly apologized. The problem is that Trump actually says exactly that on his own website. When the debate came back from a commercial, Quick noted that fact but never challenged Trump’s denial. And to make matters worse, this segment of the debate was discussed on Fox News the next day and host Jon Scott falsely asserted that it was Quick who was wrong, saying that “it seems that the research was not necessarily done.” This was after he already knew that she was correct and had cited her source during the debate.

In addition to that, the debate featured a couple of statements that were highly significant, but are not likely to garner much attention. First, Carly Fiorina said that “There is no Constitutional role for the Federal Government to be setting minimum wages.” Apparently ignorant of the Commerce Clause, Fiorina boldly came out in favor of ditching the minimum wage. Secondly, Carl Quintanilla directed a question to Trump with the preface that the site of the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon “was a gun-free zone,” Trump readily agreed. But not only is that untrue, there were actually people there with guns who did not engaged the shooter.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So aside from all of the misinformation, the inter-party hostilities, and the failings of the moderators, the one thing that will persist as the defining characteristic of this debate is the intense loathing that Republicans have for the media. It is that rancorous acrimony that will supplant any useful knowledge that might have been gained about the candidates. And since everyone already knew that Republicans hate the press, the whole affair was a complete waste of time.

Tempest In A Tea Bag: Marco Rubio’s Traffic Ticket Troubles And Right-Wing Hypocrisy

The “liberal” New York Times is taking heat for having published an Internet blurb detailing the rap sheet for the Rubio family on file with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. It seems that the senator, and aspiring presidential candidate, and his wife racked up some seventeen tickets for speeding, careless driving, etc. The Times’ item was posted on Friday at a time generally reserved for “news dumps.”

It is unlikely that anyone at the Times regraded the story as an earth shattering bombshell and, absent any assistance from self-serving demagogues, it would probably have rolled off the media radar in half an hour or so. And that’s where the self-serving demagogues come in.

Fox News Marco Rubio

The conservative media regulars snapped to attention and immediately began castigating the Times for having reported a true, albeit trivial story. The effect of their accumulated outrage was to turn an online throwaway into a three day (and counting) event. Participating in the bash-fest were…

  • Fox News: Bias Alert: NY Times under fire for ‘scoop’ on Rubio traffic citations
  • Daily Caller: Marco Rubio And His Wife Have Gotten A Bunch Of Traffic Tickets
  • NewsBusters: NY Times ‘Scoop’ Exposes 17 Traffic Tickets for Marco Rubio
  • Breitbart: Media: Never Mind Hillary’s Scandals, Let’s Talk About Marco Rubio’s Wife’s Driving Habits
  • Townhall: Impeach: Rubio and Wife Have Received 17 Traffic Tickets Since 1997
  • RedState: Breaking: Marco Rubio Does Not Abuse his Influence
  • National Review: Marco Rubio — Traffic Violations Like Everyone Else
  • Washington Times: NY Times Goes After Rubio, Wife — For Traffic Tickets

There were, of course, many more, and Fox News has repeated the story numerous times. But perhaps the most offensive contribution to the Times thump-a-thon came from BreitBrat Ben Shapiro, who Tweeted a photo of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s car submerged at Chappaquiddick forty-six years ago. Talk about straying off-topic. Kennedy is not currently a candidate for president and he is, sadly, not here to defend himself. Maybe Shapiro would like to comment on the guy that Laura Bush killed in a tragic car accident. That would be just as relevant. Even more so, since her brother-in-law is running for president and she is around to comment on the matter. [This just in: Greg Gutfeld of Fox News also joked about Kennedy as he dismissed Rubios’s poor driving by saying that “At least he didn’t drive anybody off a bridge.” This even caused his co-hosts on The Five to groan disapprovingly]

Most noticeable in this orchestrated defense of the Rubios, however, is the typical wailing of wingnuts who have been caught doing something wrong. Their first response is always to cry “media bias” and to lament their victimization at the hands of the cold-hearted press. It’s the very same reaction that is currently being deployed by the despicable Duggar family’s defense of their pedophile son Josh. These people think that the media reporting on alleged crimes is worse than the the crime itself.

Unfortunately for them, the facts don’t fit with their fantasy narrative. If the media is demonstrating some sort of bias by reporting Rubio’s traffic tickets, then what were they demonstrating when they reported Barack Obama’s parking tickets back in 2008? As published in a story by the “liberal” Washington Post…

“Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got more than an education when he attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s. He also got a healthy stack of parking tickets, most of which he never paid.

“The Illinois Senator shelled out $375 in January _ two weeks before he officially launched his presidential campaign _ to finally pay for 15 outstanding parking tickets and their associated late fees.”

Did any of the usual right-wing suspects noted above come to Obama’s defense and condemn the Post for smearing him? Was there any expressed outrage over how the media resorts to trivialities when there are much bigger problems facing the world? Was there any forgiveness from the right because Obama at the time was a poor student and these were just parking tickets, not moving violations like Rubio’s.

Nope, none of that Christian mercy that conservatives are so fond of flashing was on display. That’s because, they don’t really care about the substance of these issues.

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Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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Instead, they are singularly interested in furthering the spread of their favorite fairy tale that the media is hopelessly liberal and that this unwarranted attack on Rubio is just another example of it. That’s how they can justify stretching this trifling news bite into a multi-day tribulation. It feeds their manufactured stereotype of the media and they will continue to chomp on it until the flavor is gone.

Sunday Funnies: Marco Rubio And Chris Wallace Reenact Iraq Version Of ‘Who’s On First’

Last week the nation marveled to the spectacle of Jeb Bush fumbling what must have been the most highly anticipated question that he could possibly have been asked in his nascent campaign for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America: Knowing what is known now, would you have authorized an invasion of Iraq?

Bush responded that he thought his brother George had made the correct decision given the available intelligence. That, of course, was not the question he was asked. So in the days following the flub, Bush claimed to have misheard the question, but still gave multiple different answers before finally admitting that he would not have ordered an invasion if he knew what he knows now.

Marco Rubio

For Marco Rubio, that ought to have been an object lesson in tackling this otherwise softball question. But for some reason, the freshman senator managed to do in three minutes what it took Bush five days to do: make an utter ass of himself. In an exchange on the decidedly friendly territory of Fox News Sunday (video below), Rubio engaged in a painfully comical routine with host Chris Wallace wherein he repeatedly failed to grasp the nature of the question he was being asked. Here is just a portion of that train wreck:

WALLACE: Was it a mistake? Was it a mistake to go to war with Iraq?
RUBIO: It’s two different — it wasn’t — I —
WALLACE: I’m asking you to —
RUBIO: Yes, I understand, but that’s not the same question.
WALLACE: But that’s the question I’m asking you. Was it a mistake to go to war?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to decide to go into Iraq, because at the time, he was told —
WALLACE: I’m not asking you that. I’m asking you —
RUBIO: In hindsight.
WALLACE: Yes.
RUBIO: Well, the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein is not there.
WALLACE: So, was it a mistake or not?
RUBIO: But I wouldn’t characterize it — but I don’t understand the question you’re asking, because the president —
WALLACE: I’m asking you, knowing — as we sit here in 2015 —
RUBIO: No, but that’s not the way presidents — a president cannot make decision on what someone might know in the future.
WALLACE: I understand. But that’s what I’m asking you. Was it a mistake?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to go into Iraq based on the information he was provided as president.

Well, that clears that up. Is Rubio really that dense or was he he just desperate to avoid criticizing George Bush? Wallace gave him ample opportunity to craft a response that included support for Bush as well as the obvious acknowledgement that no president should invade a country without airtight justification. Rubio kept trying to answer a question that Wallace had not asked, despite Wallace repeatedly restating his actual question. And it isn’t as if this were a surprise, gotcha question (like what magazines do read read?). It is a question that has been in the news for a week.

Why is it so hard for Republicans to concede that wars should not be started unless there are provable threats to our national interest? This sort of obtuse defiance of common sense is what makes people convinced that the GOP is a party of war mongers who will launch into battle on the slightest whim. It reinforces the widespread impression that they are lackeys to the defense industry and others who profit off of war, including those whose profits are political rather than financial.

Elsewhere in the interview, Wallace raised Rubio’s campaign theme of “21st century ideas” and asked him to talk about them. That would ordinarily be a perfect opportunity to drop a campaign ad into an interview. However, Rubio dodged any reference to new ideas saying only that “the balance of power in the world has shifted” because of “autocratic governments in Russia and China” and “rogue states like North Korea and Iran.” Right, because none of them were around in the 20th century.

When Wallace pressed him to reveal his actual new ideas to address those allegedly new problems, Rubio eventually complied saying that “we need to cut [tax] rates” and improve the education system. Those, of course, address only domestic problems that have no bearing on the foreign affairs he had just raised. Not to mention that neither of those “ideas” can be coherently described as “new.”

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

If this is a taste of what Rubio’s campaign will be offering in the coming months, it can be safely assumed that he isn’t going far. But then Bush has already flubbed some of the same questions and the rest of the GOP pack has even less foreign policy experience than these two flounders.

This election cycle promises to be an entertaining romp with plenty of twists and turns. It should be serialized as a reality TV show a la The Amazing (Presidential) Race. I, for one, can’t wait for the debates to see who is voted out of the clown car next.