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Friday, August 7, 2015

Fox News Debate: Kids Table Bats Clean-Up

In just a few short hours since its conclusion, the FoxNews Facebook debate has managed to spark some heated debate of its own. First, there were many who were shocked and dismayed to learn that the only way to watch the debates in real time was to have a cable subscription that included FoxNews Channel or C-Span. 
Even listening to the debate was a challenge, as several stations that claimed they would run he full debate only ran the prime time debate. Stations like FoxNews Radio that did air the earlier "Happy Hour" Debate, ran it in brief and select clips couched by commentary. Alan Colmes, for example, gave the candidates the Mystery Science Theater treatment and offered sarcastic commentary, many times speaking over the candidates so that he would be heard.

Jessica Chasmar, of the Washington Times, said what we all were thinking:
They also took some heat for the process by which they selected candidates. Publicly, they stated that they were using an average of five independent polls to make the selections. Those who watched both the Happy Hour and the Primetime debates saw with abundant clarity that some mistakes were made on that score. Carly Fiorina, for example, was declared by most to be the winner of the entire evening. Her answers were so complete and so concise that they were played in part during the Primetime event. And because of the way the events were broadcast, most Americans who were listening for free missed the vast majority of what she said.

The media's treatment of the happy hour debate made it clear that the intention was to marginalize those who hadn't made it into the top ten. Several media outlets referred to them as the "JV team," and even Planned Parenthood (whose recent scandal was the subject of a few questions) took to Twitter to call them "the kids table."
But despite the smaller audience and the clear attempts to make the "bottom 7" appear to be less viable, several of them managed to shine anyway. Carly Fiorina handled questions, attacks, and underhanded moderators with the skill of a seasoned professional. Indeed, after that debate, it was clear that her only weakness is a lack of political experience - and in the current climate, that may actually be more of a strength. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was clear and concise in his answers, if a bit less polished than the others. And former Texas Governor Rick Perry stood out as both knowledgable on the issues and willing to crack a joke at his own expense. The fact that he has a very solid conservative record in the state of Texas - from defunding Planned Parenthood and creating jobs to deploying the National Guard at the border - doesn't hurt either.

As clearly as Barack Obama was mistaken when he called ISIS the "JV squad," the media was mistaken in relegating these three to "the kids table." But if they hadn't, and these three quite capable candidates had instead been the lower tier sharing the stage with Donald Trump, perhaps we wouldn't be talking about them today. The fact is, obvious attempts to marginalize them actually may have given them a better chance to stand out.

The primetime debate was not without its issues, however. Though it was much easier to find free streaming audio coverage at least, the overall assessment of the debate was that it was only slightly less orchestrated than a WWE tag team event. Several questions seemed specifically designed to get a rise out of Donald Trump, and it worked spectacularly. Governor Scott Walker was targeted with an abortion question nearly on par with something one might expect from Nancy Pelosi on the House floor: "You would let women diiiieee?" (To his credit, Governor Walker handled the question admirably.) Only once did the circus manage to break free of the tent, and that was during a heated exchange between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul regarding the NSA. Even that exchange quickly devolved into a shouting match that left Christie evoking 9/11 and Paul shouting "Bill of Rights," bringing back memories of the Paulbot Mantra of his father's 2012 campaign: "Liberty! Constitution! I win!"

Although there were some standout answers, particularly from Senators Marco Rubio (FL) and Ted Cruz (TX), Governor Scott Walker (WI), and Dr. Ben Carson, the overall feel was that the debate was designed to be a circus that showcased Donald Trump as the blustering, abrasive clown. Unfortunately, setting the stage in that fashion may have damaged the credibility of the other candidates who participated.

It's like the old adage: "Never mud-wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty, and the pig will like it."

Essentially, the moderators high-lighted Donald Trump as the predetermined mud-wrestling pig, and instead of allowing the other candidates to shine light on that by simply offering more competent comparisons, they built the Donald a mud pit and threw the first bucket of water.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SOTU: Shorter, Snarkier, and Infinitely More Accurate

The "new" initiative Obama proposed in his 2015 State of the Union address was touted even before the event as a sort of "Robin Hood" plan. (As per usual, he ignored the fact that an actual Robin Hood plan would involve the raiding of an overinflated government and the return of unjustly taken tax money to the people from whom it been wrongly wrested. But I digress...)

In a move that is totally unprecedented by this president (and by that I mean totally precedented, over and over again), Barack Obama stood before Congress and a few million Americans who suffered from either a death wish or insomnia, and said the same thing he has said every year since 2009:

I heart the middle class because <insert warm fuzzy anecdote completely fabricated by speechwriters>.
"ZOMG, people have to give up vacations and *gasp* pizza to pay bills?" 

Well, yes, Sir, we can't all be the President.

It's not fair that some people have more stuff than others. To fix that, I plan to unfairly take stuff from people who already have it.

If elected - oh, my bad, I totes already won that election - I will take money from people who worked hard because there are a select few people whose money makes money and I have to punish them for investing wisely.

If you are struggling to get by, that's not fair. Because struggle is bad. Also, if you're struggling, it's not because you chose a major like "Womyn's Studies." It's because George W. Bush is stupid and Mitt Romney is mean.

People should get free education. And by free, I mean that one of those rich people should pay for it for you. And by rich, I mean responsible. Pay no attention to the fact that a flooded education market is the reason you already need an advanced degree to stock shelves art Walmart - which is also evil, by the way, because unions.


I don't really give a rat's ass about veterans - or those still serving, for that matter - but I know how much y'all like to hear that word.

So here it is again: veterans.

On a completely unrelated topic, I just fired a whole crapload of Captains, so you should hire them.

Hey, more people have healthcare. Okay, maybe not exactly more people. But different people have healthcare, so that's something, right?

Climate change is bad, y'all. I mean, I know it's not rampaging through Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and freaking Oklahoma. I know it's not guilty of mass rape and beheadings. But seriously, people, we're talking about completely unsubstantiated blather regarding dead polar bears and cow farts.

We're also totally hunting down terrorists. And by that I mean we're sending them back to the front lines and failing to track their movements accurately. (It feels like we've done this before [cough, cough] Fast and Furious...)

Illegal immigration? What's that?

I have flaws, just like everyone else. LOL no, it's just you guys.

Seriously, though, we're America. We should lead with our values. I mean, I know I voted more than once to let babies who accidentally survive abortions die alone in trash cans, but I'm talking about morality here.

Hey, remember when I won those two elections? And those people I mentioned in the totally fabricated anecdote from the beginning of this speech?

Good times...

G'night, folks, I'll be here for another two years. Except for when I'm on vacation. Or golfing.

Tip your waiters, because you have more than they do and it's not fair!