Jay Reding.com

The GOP Debates In Florida

Stephen Green suffered through tonight’s GOP debate, drinks in hand. I caught the first half hour of it, but decided that was enough. This part made my evening:

7:14pm To Romney: “Are these other jokers really tax cutters?” Again, Paul got stiffed. Again, Romney appears stiff. You know what bugs me about Romney? If his hair were even only slightly curly, you’d swear he was a Viagra-laced penis. The man is erect.

7:14.5pm Mormon Erectus. . . .

7:27pm Once you start to think of Romney as a six-foot-tall erect penis, you just can’t see him any other way. I mean, watch the guy with that in mind and tell me I’m wrong. “We’re the party of fiscal responsibility. Bulging, thrusting fiscal responsibility.”

Nobody else can turn such a deadly boring event into the perfect forum for some inspired dick jokes…

I did catch the first part of the debate, and as much as it sometimes pains me to say it, I’m starting to warm to McCain. I’m a currently uncommitted voter—I want some reason why I can support one of the candidates. John McCain, for all his faults (and they are legion!), gets it on the war. He gets it on spending. He’s reliably pro-life. I’m not convinced yet, but he’s the only candidate that gave me a reason to support him.

Romney (AKA Mormon Erectus) is more strongly conservative. What I like about Romney so far is that he’s a competent technocrat. He probably could do much to turn the government around. What I dislike him is that he’s a competent technocrat—and technocrats don’t tend to get elected in this country. He’s got some good ideas, but I honestly have trouble seeing him compete against Hillary and a lot of trouble seeing him against Obama. At the end of the day, do I want someone who’s closer to my beliefs but is less likely to win or someone with whom I have major disagreements but is right on some big issues?

What keeps me out of the McCain camp is that I don’t trust him on judges yet. And as a larval lawyer, judges are a top issue for me. McCain-Feingold was an unconstitutional piece of legislation that directly conflict with the most important form of speech in this country: political speech. A judge likely to see McCain-Feingold as constitutional is not a judge I want to see on the Supreme Court.

As for Rudy, I’d like to support him, but he’s toast. I’ve seen Rudy Giuliani speak more than once, and he’s damned good when he’s on. The problem is that he’s just not on right now. He’s dry and even when he’s got solid positions on the issues he just doesn’t inspire.

When Rudy tells the story about the burly construction worker giving President Bush a bear hug at Ground Zero, he brings the house down. Rudy Giuliani can communicate. What’s frustrating is that we’re not seeing it in these debates. Florida is Rudy’s firewall state, and I just don’t see him winning it. It’s too bad in way—I supported Rudy early on, and I still think he’s a smart and effective leader. He just hasn’t performed in this campaign. In some ways, he’s a lot like Fred. By ceding the early states he ceded the momentum needed to stay viable later on. His strategy had some potential, but now it appears to have not panned out for him.

Mike Huckabee: what more can I say? The guy is not prepared and not conservative. Did he really say that we need to add more lanes to I-95 to stimulate the economy? That fixing Florida gridlock is a key federal problem? That Saddam shipped his WMDs to Jordan?! What were they smoking in Iowa?

I will say this: Huckabee is on to something. There’s a lot of middle-class angst out there, some of it justified, some of it not. Whether or not it’s rational, the Republicans have to address it. Huckabee is doing that in a way that the other candidates are not. The other candidates needn’t follow his brand of silly populism, but it would behoove them to follow his lead in at least showing some simpatico with the middle class.

As much as I criticize Huckabee, I’d take him as the spokesperson for evangelicals above a Jerry Fallwell or a Pat Robertson. Even though he isn’t cut out for the Oval Office doesn’t mean that he’s politically irrelevant. The rest of the field shouldn’t be following his lead on policy, but they’d do well to pay attention to his rhetoric.

And then there’s Ron Paul. 80% right, 20% completely flippin’ bugnuts. What we need to do is scientifically figure out how we can remove the crazy anti-war conspiratorial Ron Paul from the libertarian Ron Paul and then you’d have something. Sadly, that isn’t possible. Instead we get a screeching paranoid who probably does more harm to the libertarian cause than good—and a cult-like peanut gallery that follows him around. I’m not sure who’s cynically using who, whether Paul is cynically exploiting the radical anti-war left or they’re using him to give themselves a forum. Either way, he’s ended up as a political bedfellow with 9/11 “Truthers”, John Birchers and isolationist paleocons. I’ll be greatly relieved when his irritating nasal whine and paranoid rhetoric goes away.

NBC had to try to make every question some silly “gotcha.” Moderate the debate, don’t try to push it. Charlie Gibson so far has done the best job, and no one else has come close. This wasn’t quite as bad as the Iowa debate, but it was close.

This uncommitted voter remains uncommitted, although McCain did move me a bit in the part that I saw. I doubt anything changed as a result of this debate, and the race seems to be a match between Romney and McCain with Rudy hoping to keep up.

The winner? Stephen Green for comparing Mitt Romney to a six-foot phallus. The loser? Anyone else who suffered through the whole insufferable debate.

8 responses to “The GOP Debates In Florida”

  1. Mark says:

    “Mike Huckabee….Did he really say that we need to add more lanes to I-95 to stimulate the economy?”

    True to form, the one sensible thing said in the entire 90-minute debate is what you choose to ridicule. Reinvestment in crumbling infrastructure is both a short-term and long-term means to economic stimulus, and would be far more effective than a ridiculous outlay of rebate checks that will either a) sit idly in the savings accounts of households making over $100,000 per year, or as Huckabee inferred, b) outsourcing economic stimulus to the factory towns of China who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of whatever consumer binge the rebate checks inspire.

    “There’s a lot of middle-class angst out there, some of it justified, some of it not. Whether or not it’s rational, the Republicans have to address it. Huckabee is doing that in a way that the other candidates are not. The other candidates needn’t follow his brand of silly populism, but it would behoove them to follow his lead in at least showing some simpatico with the middle class.”

    I’m interested to hear what that might be. For years now, you have openly ridiculed anyone who expresses economic angst and toss about a bunch of cold statistics chewed up by the Wall Street Journal editorial page but worthless to the American people, including a growing number of Republicans. You seem to finally be acknowledging that laughing off the hardship grievances of the sweating classes is not the path to victory, yet nearly every day you offer the same condescending smugness about this being the best economy of all time, coupled with calls for an even smaller social safety net than the one voters currently find unacceptable. How do you (and non-Huckabee Republicans) circle that square?

    “The loser? Anyone else who suffered through the whole insufferable debate.”

    Nah….the real loser is the country that gets stuck with any of these clowns as their President.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    True to form, the one sensible thing said in the entire 90-minute debate is what you choose to ridicule. Reinvestment in crumbling infrastructure is both a short-term and long-term means to economic stimulus, and would be far more effective than a ridiculous outlay of rebate checks that will either a) sit idly in the savings accounts of households making over $100,000 per year, or as Huckabee inferred, b) outsourcing economic stimulus to the factory towns of China who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of whatever consumer binge the rebate checks inspire.

    It might be a good idea to add some lanes to I-95, but it’s not a stimulus measure. For one, it doesn’t help the whole country, just those who benefit from that one corridor. Secondly, it doesn’t create very many new jobs, and the jobs it creates are temporary.

    I don’t think the “stimulus checks” are going to help much at all, but neither will a couple of federal projects giving a couple of thousand people temporary jobs doing unskilled labor.

  3. Lucien Begworthy says:

    So – we want someone who can campaign to fiscal AND social conservatives? Someone who has been decrying the mental torture political campaigns have become? Someone who can appeal to the middle-class, possibly because he or she grew up that way?

    JOHN KASICH!

  4. Mark says:

    “It might be a good idea to add some lanes to I-95, but it’s not a stimulus measure.”

    Why not? Aside from the workers that would be employed to construct the highway, raw materials would have to be purchased, those workers would need to take lunch breaks at the local diners, etc., etc., etc. And from a long-term perspective, a more efficient transportation network in this country will be desperately needed to accommodate the explosion of 18-wheelers transporting lead-filled Chinese-manufactured trinkets from the coastal ports to Wal-Mart Distribution Centers. If mass consumption of foreign-made junk is the future of America’s economy, as all free-trade defenders insist, providing the infrastructural means for that process to unfold is the most fundamental form of economic stimulus that a government can provide.

  5. Jay Reding says:

    Why not?

    Well, let’s see why not…

    Aside from the workers that would be employed to construct the highway,

    Which would be how many? A few thousand at most, if that. That wouldn’t put a dent in the unemployment numbers. Plus, under Davis-Bacon (a bill designed to keep black-owned contractors from bidding on federal projects), only the richest private contractors would be able to bid on the job—meaning that the people who most need the jobs would be priced out the chance.

    raw materials would have to be purchased

    Except it doesn’t take that much in terms of raw materials to build a highway—and guess what they use to make asphalt? How much of that raw material would have to come from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, or other countries we don’t particularly like?

    Unless you want to get that raw oil from a place like ANWR—but we all know how popular an idea that is…

    those workers would need to take lunch breaks at the local diners, etc., etc., etc.

    Which assumes that they wouldn’t just pack a sandwich…

    What you’d be doing is hiring a bunch of temporary workers to do unskilled labor at high cost. That’s not a stimulus, and it would at best be a temporary and small-scale help to the economy.

    It’s like saying that we should bomb Iran so that defense contractors can hire more people to make bonbs… except that wars actually do provide some economic stimulus (see the post-WWII boom).

    And from a long-term perspective, a more efficient transportation network in this country will be desperately needed to accommodate the explosion of 18-wheelers transporting lead-filled Chinese-manufactured trinkets from the coastal ports to Wal-Mart Distribution Centers. If mass consumption of foreign-made junk is the future of America’s economy, as all free-trade defenders insist, providing the infrastructural means for that process to unfold is the most fundamental form of economic stimulus that a government can provide.

    Except that assumes that one particular form of infrastructure is better than another. Why not spend money on rail? On airports?

    Spending on infrastructure isn’t a bad idea at all, but turning that spending into a make-work program won’t provide any economic stimulus in the short term. In fact, it could end up as a counter-cyclical inflationary factor.

    Transportation projects are budgeted over very long periods of time. I’m not opposed to transportation spending, but given that the last transportation bill was stuffed to the brim with pork, the argument that a lack of money is the problem doesn’t sound particularly justified by the facts.

  6. Mark says:

    “Plus, under Davis-Bacon (a bill designed to keep black-owned contractors from bidding on federal projects), only the richest private contractors would be able to bid on the job—”

    Humorous how you pretend to be against illegal immigration, even though lifting Davis-Bacon prevailing wage standards guarantees that the low-bid contractor (likely a Halliburton subsidiary) will employ an all illegal immigrant workforce just as Halliburton did in the reconstruction of New Orleans when Bush attempted to exempt the project from Davis-Bacon until public outcry forced him to (God forbid!) abide by the law.

    “Except it doesn’t take that much in terms of raw materials to build a highway—and guess what they use to make asphalt? How much of that raw material would have to come from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, or other countries we don’t particularly like?”

    I may not be an expert on highway construction, but I do know that freeways (say, for instance, I-95) are made of cement, not asphalt….but I definitely have to give you an “A” for effort on that spin job.

    “What you’d be doing is hiring a bunch of temporary workers to do unskilled labor at high cost. That’s not a stimulus, and it would at best be a temporary and small-scale help to the economy.”

    The history of the 20th century is not on your side here, Jay. I invite you to go to Carthage, Tennessee, and tell the old gents in the local cafe how ineffective public works programs are.

    “It’s like saying that we should bomb Iran so that defense contractors can hire more people to make bonbs”

    Considering that the war profiteering corporate and military benefactors of the Bush administration were on video talking about how profitable the war in Iraq was gonna be before the invasion, reminding us all of that isn’t sweetening your argument any.

    “Except that assumes that one particular form of infrastructure is better than another. Why not spend money on rail? On airports?”

    The highways are publicly owned while railroads and airports are privately owned entities whose upkeep is in the hands of the companies who own them. Unless of course you’re advocating an upgrade of government-run Amtrak, but I kinda doubt you are.

    “but turning that spending into a make-work program won’t provide any economic stimulus in the short term”

    If the infrastructure improvements need to be made, and most people on all sides of the political spectrum believe they do, it’s hardly a “make work program”.

  7. Jay Reding says:

    Humorous how you pretend to be against illegal immigration, even though lifting Davis-Bacon prevailing wage standards guarantees that the low-bid contractor (likely a Halliburton subsidiary) will employ an all illegal immigrant workforce just as Halliburton did in the reconstruction of New Orleans when Bush attempted to exempt the project from Davis-Bacon until public outcry forced him to (God forbid!) abide by the law.

    Except for the little part where none of that is even remotely true. Davis-Bacon was a Jim Crow law passed by white lawmakers to prevent black contractors from bidding on federal projects. It still has the effect today.

    I may not be an expert on highway construction, but I do know that freeways (say, for instance, I-95) are made of cement, not asphalt….but I definitely have to give you an “A” for effort on that spin job.

    You’re not only not an expert, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. Roads are made from asphalt, which is a mixture of concrete and oil products. You can’t build a road out of cement because cement is too brittle.

    Apparently you’ve never even been around someone who’s worked construction jobs…

    The history of the 20th century is not on your side here, Jay. I invite you to go to Carthage, Tennessee, and tell the old gents in the local cafe how ineffective public works programs are.

    Of I could read a textbook on economics. That’s why I argue from facts while you argue from opinions (combined with pure BS… sort of like the way you combine concrete and oil products to make asphault…)

    Considering that the war profiteering corporate and military benefactors of the Bush administration were on video talking about how profitable the war in Iraq was gonna be before the invasion, reminding us all of that isn’t sweetening your argument any.

    Odd how you make this claim, yet can’t seem able to post a link to back it up…

    The highways are publicly owned while railroads and airports are privately owned entities whose upkeep is in the hands of the companies who own them. Unless of course you’re advocating an upgrade of government-run Amtrak, but I kinda doubt you are.

    And here we go again… you make a claim that takes all of 30 seconds to demolish…

    In the US, all of the airports are operated directly by government entities or government-created airport authorities (also known as port authorities). Only Indianapolis International Airport, which is owned by the City of Indianapolis and leased to BAA Indianapolis, Inc., a subsidiary of BAA, and Stewart International Airport in New York’s Hudson Valley, are entirely operated by a private entity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airport#Airport_ownership_and_operation

    And in fact, railroads provide another example of why privatization works. When railroads were deregulated in 1980 the effect was to reduce costs of transportation from 14% of GDP to only 11%.

    See what wonderful things you can learn when you actually do some research rather than spouting nonsense?

  8. Mark says:

    “Except for the little part where none of that is even remotely true. Davis-Bacon was a Jim Crow law passed by white lawmakers to prevent black contractors from bidding on federal projects. It still has the effect today.”

    Bottom line….in your utopia of lifting Davis-Bacon and awarding Halliburton subsidiaries with every reconstruction contract, the lack of prevailing wage rates will assure us that the workforce for ANY construction project will be illegal immigrants. Nice to see that for all your frustration about illegal immigration, you still find it preferable to American workers being able to work at wage rates above the poverty line.

    “You’re not only not an expert, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. Roads are made from asphalt, which is a mixture of concrete and oil products. You can’t build a road out of cement because cement is too brittle.”

    First of all, I said cement and I meant concrete.

    Secondly, have a look at this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete

    Pay particular attention to the third paragraph and then scroll down to the second batch of photos, especially the first one showing freeways made of concrete. Asphalt is used to make two-lane highways, but concrete is used on freeways. I-95, Jay, is a freeway.

    “Odd how you make this claim, yet can’t seem able to post a link to back it up…”

    Watch “Fahrenheit 9/11”. Whatever your opinion of the film’s message may be, energy executives were caught on tape cheering on the war and the huge profits that it would bring them.

    “And in fact, railroads provide another example of why privatization works. When railroads were deregulated in 1980 the effect was to reduce costs of transportation from 14% of GDP to only 11%.”

    Anyone dependent on inefficient railroad service would stridently disagree. As always occurs in the event of privatization and deregulation, a couple huge railroads quickly gobbled up a supermajority of the market share and stretched their own infrastructure beyond their capabilities in the process. The Chicago Northwestern Railroad got high marks for customer service until the Union Pacific absorbed them in 1995. Immediately, customer service declined and has never returned to 1994 levels, as any frustrated elevator operator (or in the case of my dad, Union Pacific employees frustrated with their employer’s inability to take on the orders they signed on for) would be glad to tell you. Drive by just about any grain elevator around harvest time here in the Upper Midwest and you will still see mountains of grain waiting for weeks for the fat and lazy Union Pacific operation to transport it from Point A to Point B.

    “See what wonderful things you can learn when you actually do some research rather than spouting nonsense?”

    Yep, I’ve learned that those who claim to have all the answers don’t even bother to read your rebuttals in proper context before they start regurgitating their “now would be a perfect time for tax cuts” and “privatization works” talking points.