Live-blogging the 2nd Dem debate

Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Sanders, Clinton and O'Malley hold moment of silence on stage ahead of the second official 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Des Moines

Reuters photo

Bernie Sanders, Billary Clinton and Martin O’Malley participate in an awkward, maudlin, too-short moment of silence for the victims of the Paris attacks at the beginning of tonight’s second Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa. Thankfully, discussion of foreign policy and terrorism lasted for only about a half-hour, because, as I noted earlier today, it’s critical that our serious domestic issues (as well as even larger issues, such as climate change) not be ignored because of a renewed bullshit “war on terror,” which the right-wing, fear-mongering traitors among us would love to happen.

4:00 p.m. (California time [PST]): The second Democratic presidential debate is scheduled to start in two hours (PST).

Pathetically but not shockingly, the New York Times reports today:

Des Moines, Iowa — In the hours after the deadly attacks in Paris, CBS News significantly reworked its plans for the Democratic presidential debate it is hosting here on Saturday night to focus more on issues of terrorism, national security and foreign relations.

Steve Capus, the executive editor of CBS News and the executive producer of “CBS Evening News,” said in an interview late Friday that he was in the middle of a rehearsal for the debate when news broke about the slaughter in Paris.

The CBS News team immediately shifted gears and reformulated questions to make them more directly related to the attacks. Mr. Capus said it was important for the debate to go on because the world looks to the American president for leadership during international crises.

“American leadership is put to the test,” Mr. Capus said. “The entire world is looking to the White House. These people are vying to take over this office.”

“This is exactly what the president is going to have to face,” he added.

Mr. Capus said the news team had planned a different debate, but “there is no question that the emphasis changes dramatically.”

“It is the right time to ask all the related questions that come to mind,” he added. “We think we have a game plan to address a lot of the substantive and important topics.”

The Des Moines debate, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time, is the first on a broadcast network so far this election season. The moderators are John Dickerson, anchor of the CBS News program “Face the Nation”; Nancy Cordes, the CBS News congressional correspondent; Kevin Cooney, an anchor for KCCI-TV in Des Moines; and Kathie Obradovich, political columnist at The Des Moines Register.

“Last night’s attacks are a tragic example of the kinds of challenges American presidents face in today’s world, and we intend to ask the candidates how they would confront the evolving threat of terrorism,” said Christopher Isham, CBS News vice president and Washington bureau chief.

CBS is also planning an hourlong special report Saturday night, immediately preceding the debate, with a singular focus on the attacks in Paris, Mr. Capus said. It will be anchored by Norah O’Donnell in New York with a contribution from the “CBS Evening News” anchor, Scott Pelley, from Paris.

“Face the Nation” has changed its plans for its Sunday broadcast. The network originally intended to broadcast the show from Des Moines the morning after the debate, but has scrapped those plans and now says it will travel back to Washington to cover the news of the terrorist attacks.

The Paris attacks are a godsend for not only the Repugnican Tea Party, but for the corporately owned and controlled “news” media, like CBS, whose filthy rich owners would much, much rather have Americans terrified about “terrorism” than focus on what capitalism run amok is continuing to do here at home.

It is tragic that at least 129 people were slaughtered in Paris yesterday, but far more Americans than that die every day right here at home because of corporate evils. It’s that their deaths, such as from lack of access to adequate health care, adequate shelter and adequate nutrition, and from chronic illnesses due to that lack of access and due to exposure to tobacco and other carcinogens and other corporately produced toxins, aren’t nearly as dramatic as are deaths at the hands of suicide bombers and other assorted terrorists/“terrorists.”

Far more Americans have died and will continue to die because of the insane income inequality that has plagued this nation for decades than ever will be killed by terrorists/“terrorists.” And we continue to allow this beyond-sorry state of affairs.

5:50 p.m. (PST): The debate is set to begin in 10 minutes from Drake University in Des Moines.

6:02 p.m.: Incredibly cheesy opening, with a platitude about “freedom” and a moment of silence for Paris. Remember that the corporately owned and controlled “news” media in 2002 and 2003 acted as cheerleaders for the Vietraq War, not as journalists. They’re not on our side, as they love terrorism/“terrorism,” which is great for their ratings.

6:06 p.m.: Bernie Sanders is the first to speak. He states that the world needs to rid itself of ISIS. I concur. Sanders then immediately goes into income inequality, which I’m sure will be cast as “Bernie Sanders doesn’t care enough about Paris/terrorism!”

6:08 p.m.: Billary Clinton is second to speak, and is speaking at length about tackling “the scourge of terrorism” and she mimics Marco Rubio’s recent talking point that if we aren’t safe from terrorists/“terrorists,” then all other topics of discussion are moot. Billary sounds like a Repugnican to me, but I’m sure that she’ll be lauded for being more “presidential”-sounding.

6:09 p.m.: Martin O’Malley spoke. I barely paid attention, as he can’t hit even 5 percent in polls.

6:10 p.m.: Billary again on ISIS, which, she says, must be defeated. I don’t know — she was secretary of state during ISIS’s formative years, wasn’t she? Can she really act like she stands outside of the creation of ISIS?

6:11 p.m.: Billary blames ISIS on the United States’ premature departure from Iraq. She doesn’t remind us that she voted for the Vietraq War in October 2002 in the first place…

6:12 p.m.: Martin O’Malley’s demeanor and delivery are stilted.

6:13 p.m.: Asked if he stands by his assertion that climate change remains our top national security issue, Bernie Sanders wisely and correctly replies yes. Bernie wisely reminds us that the 2003 invasion of Iraq birthed ISIS. Go, Bernie!

6:15 p.m.: Billary deflects, talking about the history of terrorist attacks on U.S. interests. She acknowledges that “the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.”

6:16 p.m.: Sanders mentions U.S. forcing regime changes on other nations in history and states, “I’m not a great fan of regime change.” He states that regime changes often have unintended consequences.

6:18 p.m.: Billary talks about the “complexity” of the world and the special complexity of the Middle East.

6:19 p.m.: Bernie Sanders states that defeating ISIS is “a war for the soul of Islam” and states that Middle Eastern nations need to do more than they have to defeat ISIS. Billary says he was being unfair to Jordan, but I don’t recall him even mentioning Jordan.

6:20 p.m.: Billary is now asked about Libya… Uh-oh…

6:21 p.m.: Billary talks about “an arc of instability” from North Africa to Afghanistan.

6:22 p.m.: Martin O’Malley reminds us that Syria, Libya, Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations are a wreck. I take this as an indirect assault on Clinton’s record as secretary of state…

6:24 p.m.: Bernie Sanders is now talking about how our soldiers come home from war, such as afflicted with PTSD.

6:25 p.m.: Billary clarifies that we’re not at war with Muslims or Islam, but with “jihadists.” Billary is asked about some quotation of her stating that we need to understand our enemies. I agree with her point. As I just blogged, we do need to understand the “jihadists'” mindset. Understanding it is not the same as agreeing with it. Duh. These debate questions are stupid — juvenile and simplistic.

6:28 p.m.: Yes, so the “question” is what we call the “enemy.” “Radical Islamists”? O’Malley offers “radical jihadis.” Again: This is stupid.

6:30 p.m.: Bernie Sanders reminds us that we spend more than $600 billion a year on our military, but that we don’t spend enough on intelligence. “The Cold War is over,” he reminds us, stating that we need to change our military spending based upon our changed priorities. He does not call for significant cuts in the bloated-beyond-belief U.S. military budget, however. (Something that wouldn’t go over very well right about now, I know, but still; Sanders’ critics’ charge that he won’t go after the bloated military budget seems to be correct.)

6:33 p.m.: Billary states that the “defense budget” does need to be re-examined, but she reminds us that we have “challenges” with China and Russia, too.

6:37 p.m.: Now, a switch to domestic economic issues. Bernie is happy about this, I know.

6:38 p.m.: Billary promises to tax the wealthy more and close corporate tax loopholes in order to fund social programs. She’s now talking about Big Pharma and its “price gouging” and “monopolistic practices.”

6:40 p.m.: Martin O’Malley touts his executive experience (over Billary and Bernie, apparently) as the governor of a tiny state… O’Malley is creepy and fakey-fake. Just sayin.’

6:42 p.m.: Bernie Sanders talks about the “massive redistribution of wealth” over the past 30 years. Yup. Sanders talks about ending corporate tax loopholes, talks about taxing Wall Street speculation (to pay for college and university tuition), and talks about making the richest pay a fairer share of taxes.

6:43 p.m.: Billary defends “Obamacare.” She states that she wants to “build on and improve the Affordable Care Act [“Obamacare”].”

6:44 p.m.: Sanders says we now need to take on the pharmaceutical industry. He states that the ACA “is a step forward,” but that the United States “needs to guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege,” and he notes that while the United States spends more than does any other nation on health care, its health-care outcomes aren’t as good as are the outcomes of nations that pay less. Yup; health care never should have been allowed to be for-profit. Billary Clinton never would go so far as to state that obvious fact, however.

6:50 p.m.: O’Malley states that net immigration from Mexico last year was “zero.” I believe him. He advocates “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.” So do I, even if I find the words “comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship” to be trite and tiresome.

6:52 p.m.: Billary advocates allowing the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to “come out of the shadows.” So do I.

6:53 p.m.: Bernie is now talking about the need for a “living wage” for everyone. Yup. He says he “apologizes to nobody” for advocating for a federal minimum wage of $15. I also agree with a $15/hour minimum wage. (Billary, I understand, won’t go higher than $12/hour right now.)

6:55 p.m.: O’Malley keeps talking about Maryland. I get it — that’s where he cut his political teeth — but it just sounds awkward on a national stage.

Bernie Sanders reminds us that several cities have adopted the $15/hour minimum wage. Billary now states that she supports only a $12/hour federal minimum wage. (She says she’s fine with individual states going higher than $12. [I always have hated the “states rights'” argument, which the right wing loves.]) O’Malley calls bullshit on Billary’s refusal to call for more than a $12/hour federal minimum wage, asserting that she listens to too many economists from Wall Street, which Billary denies.

7:00 p.m.: We’re on another break now. Thus far, the only misstep of Bernie Sanders, I think, is that he went too quickly into income inequality in his opening statement. Billary predictably will be called “more presidential” for having taken up most of her opening statement blathering about Paris. She sure knows how to pander, knows what’s expected of her by the mindless masses. Just sayin’.

7:01 p.m.: The topic now is Wall Street. Billary can’t be happy. She claims as president she would “rein in Wall Street.”

7:03 p.m.: Bernie calls Billary’s answer “not good enough.” He reminds us that Wall Street always has been a huge campaign contributor to Billary. He adds that they’re probably not dumb, that they know that they’re getting something in return. Bernie reminds us that Billary and O’Malley have superPACs but that he does not.

7:05 p.m.: Billary says that Sanders has “impugned [her] integrity” and immediately then cravenly plays the gender card, reminding us that many of her donors are women. (WTF?) She now casts her support of Wall Street as a great thing to have done in the wake of 9/11 — helping out Wall Street was putting a thumb in the eye of the 9/11 terrorists. Riiight!

7:08 p.m.: O’Malley now attacks Billary on Wall Street. “Bernie’s right,” he says, to applause, adding that we need to reinstate Glass-Steagall.

7:09 p.m.: Bernie Sanders states that Wall Street executives would not be in his cabinet. He states that Repugnican and Democratic administrations have had Wall Street weasels (my term, not his) on their teams.

7:10 p.m.: Now, gun control, Billary’s Clinton’s new-found “concern.” She’s happy to be talking about this and not Wall Street.

7:12 p.m.: Bernie says he’s open to strengthening our gun-control laws. O’Malley now says that Billary Clinton used to act like “Annie Oakley” on gun-control issues, implying, correctly, that she has switched her position on something yet once again for political gain. Bernie slams O’Malley on how good Baltimore is on gun control. Bernie says he doesn’t think there’s much difference between the three candidates’ stances on gun control.

7:16 p.m.: Bernie again says that Wall Street’s “business model is greed and fraud.” Bernie cites Billary’s opposition to reinstating Glass-Steagall as an example of how Billary is in Wall Street’s pocket. Billary protests that her objection is that reinstating Glass-Steagall wouldn’t be enough. I think she’s lying, like she recently lied about the rationale behind DOMA.

7:18 p.m.: O’Malley calls Billary the “candidate of Wall Street” and encourages people to go to his website and support him and by so doing support “real capitalism” instead of “crony capitalism.”

7:20 p.m.: We’re on break now. The low-lights of tonight’s debate, I think, are Billary’s once again knee-jerkingly having resorted to the feminism card when under attack (she has impugned her own integrity, repeatedly, over the course of many years; Sanders just pointed it out) and actually having stated that her support of Wall Street was a way to help New York post-9/11. That’s just an incredibly specious claim, even for Billary.

7:22 p.m.: Bernie is asked how as president he could bring about his left-of-center “revolution” when there already is a conservative revolution under way (I dispute that assertion, but whatever). Bernie states that the solution is to get Big Money out of politics so that the people’s business can be done. I agree, but of course that is an uphill (but not an impossible) battle.

Bernie Sanders reminds us that his campaign is beating Billary’s campaign among young people. That’s true.

7:25 p.m.: Bernie won’t take the bait that Billary Clinton’s e-mails are an issue. Billary acknowledges that Bernie has fired up many Americans of all ages — but seems to insinuate that she’ll be president nonetheless. She also tries to obfuscate by claiming that the differences between her and Sanders and O’Malley “pale by comparison” to the differences between the three of them and the Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidates.

I don’t dispute that, but it’s a tactic for Billary to evade scrutiny, not a true sentiment of “Kumbaya” on her part, methinks.

7:30 p.m.: O’Malley is speaking. He still creeps me out. He might actually make a decent-enough president, but he just hasn’t caught fire and isn’t going to, so I still wish he’d go away.

Oh, shit. O’Malley just mega-pandered by proclaiming “Black. Lives. Matter.” Black lives do matter, but such pandering sucks.

7:31 p.m.: Bernie Sanders is talking about the insane incarceration rates for Latino and black Americans. (He’s not just parroting, “Black lives matter.”) He is talking about criminal sentencing reforms and legalizing marijuana.

7:32 p.m.: Billary is being (grand)motherly, talking about cases of mothers talking to her about their children being shot dead. Wow. What a brave stance, opposing gun violence. Just sayin’.

7:34 p.m.: Bernie reminds us that Germany sends it students to universities for free, and that California and New York used to do so. (Thankfully, no mention of Denmark from Bernie, yet.) Bernie states that every American who has the academic ability should be able to get a college or university education, regardless of his or her ability to pay. Yup.

7:37 p.m.: “We can have debt-free college in the United States,” O’Malley proclaims. Billary, as is usual for her, advocates for only a mild tweaking of the current system — probably yet another example of how she is in the pockets of the Wall Street weasels.

7:39 p.m.: “Medicare for all,” a “single-payer system” is what we need, says Sanders. Billary, again, calling for only a glass of lukewarm water instead of a fire engine to put out a raging house fire, again calls for only tweaking “Obamacare.”

7:43 p.m.: We’re on break again. I don’t see this debate changing the dynamics of the race for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination all that much. I still pretty much would like O’Malley to drop out already, but he does get in legitimate digs against Billary. (But his continued presence does allow Billary to pretend that she’s being attacked on the debate stage by two men for being a girl! The poor thing!)

Billary promises what we’d expect of her — a continuation of the status quo. As president she’d be like her husband was and like how Barack Obama has been: milquetoast.

7:46 p.m.: Billary reminds us that she was part of the group advising Obama on going after Osama bin Laden. Gee, what a timely topic…

7:47 p.m.: O’Malley came out and said that at his political level he hasn’t been tried as much as has a U.S. president, but he vaguely promises that as president he could handle whatever crisis might come his way. Awkward.

7:48 p.m.: Bernie Sanders cites as a trying experience for him his attempt in the U.S. Senate to improve veterans’ health care. He states that he ultimately didn’t get the bill that he wanted, but that he got the best bill that he could. A nice juxtaposition, though: Billary wants us to think that she’s a real bad-ass who helped nab bin Laden, while Sanders reminds us of the costs of being war hawks.

7:50 p.m.: O’Malley in his closing statement promises new and fresh thinking. “We are at the threshold of a new era of American progress,” he states. Blah blah blah. Sorry. Just sayin’.

7:51 p.m.: Billary in her closing statement cheesily says, “I have heard a lot about me in this debate” — yes, she’s such a victim — but says that she wants to make it about you. This is classic Clintonian deflection and triangulation. And she plays the feminism card again, cheesily referring to the (next) president as a “she.” To me that’s just as offensive as a male candidate saying, “Vote for me — I have testicles!”

7:53 p.m.: Bernie delivers at least a moderately fiery closing statement, reminding us again that we need to take power away from Big Money, such as the superPACs, and he invites us to join the “political revolution.”

7:57 p.m.: The inane post-debate chatter ensues.

Again, I don’t see this second debate having changed the dynamics, in that I don’t see Bernie’s supporters or Billary’s supporters budging much. As with the first debate, Bernie’s supporters will say that he “won” this debate, while Billary’s supporters will say that she “won” it.

Again, it’s clear to me that Billary proposes Band-Aids where major surgery is called for. But she plays the feminism card and the “victim”-of-“misogyny” card — will that make up for her lack of substance and her unwillingness to meaningfully change the status quo (since that would upset her Big-Money campaign donors)?

Will Bernie Sanders be viewed as too unrealistic? The corporately owned and controlled media and the Wall Street weasels certainly are OK with such a perception of him.

I have little to no doubt that Bernie Sanders would be a better president than would Billary — who, as I recently noted, is disliked by more than half of the nation — but Billary just might be able to pull off the charade, at least with the Democratic caucus-goers and primary voters, that she’s more presidential and more electable.

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