By Doug Porter
Heading into the dog days of August, this should be the dullest of the dull period of the election cycle. But it’s not.
Seventeen candidates have formally declared an interest in seeking the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential contest. Roger Ailes, the high priest of Fox news, has called for an early debate, limited to the ten top job seekers capable of making the most noise.
Getting into this debate has been all about who can say the most outrageous thing. Today, I’ll share some of that outrage with readers.
The ‘Smell’ of Success
This contest at Fox has led to some over-the-top proclamations and posturing, all in the name of name recognition, which is what polls are mostly about at this stage in the process. This is largely gull shit (bulls won’t lower themselves to this level) the GOP wannabes are hoping won’t come back to haunt them should they have to face the general electorate.
This posturing includes plans to shut down the federal government come October. And we all know how well that worked out last time. Despite their “Obama has been a disaster meme,” the finest few in the Grand Old Party have largely avoided displaying talents relating to the business of governance.
This stinks so bad one respected pollster has stopped polling. From Politico:
The Marist Institute of Public Opinion has suspended its polling of the GOP primary field in protest of how polls are being used to determine debate participants.
The poll, which is done in conjunction with McClatchy, is one of the more well-respected national polls regularly conducted. But Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute, told McClatchy that they’re suspending their poll for this week because the debate criteria assumes the polls are more precise than they are in reality. The group still polled on general election match-ups as well as likes and dislikes of the primary candidates, but not who voters would vote for in the GOP primary.
The Fox debate line up, according to the pundits at the Washington Post, will be: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker. Mr Ailes may opt to ignore some polls to change things up a bit…
And The Losers Are…
The esteemed Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, who hasn’t broken one percent on many polls will join the six other losers in an earlier forum to be broadcast on Fox earlier in the day. And he’s not bitter.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, not in the top 10, said he would be participating in what he called the “happy hour debate.”
“You’ve got the Donald Trump debate. Everybody’s going to be, ‘How will he perform? What will he say?’ Well, when I’m in the first debate, which is the ‘happy hour debate,’ at five o’clock, start drinking. By nine o’clock, Donald may make sense to you, if you drink enough,” he told NBC News.
Forgive me if I overlook The Donald in this analysis. We all know he’s just soooo great, it’s a miracle the other candidates haven’t folded up shop yet.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is promising to cut lawmakers’ pay if they skip votes. He’ll just skip over parts of the Constitution (the 27th Amendment) he doesn’t like.
Retired Surgeon Ben Carson is promising to give serious consideration to Donald Trump as a Vice Presidential candidate.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, fresh off of being vigorously booed by following racehorse American Pharoah’s latest victory, told CNN’s Jake Tapper the national teacher’s union deserves a ‘punch in the face.’
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been busy trying to organize a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood, using the same strategy attempted during the October 2013 attempt to defund Obamacare.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was quoted as saying he wouldn’t rule out using federal troops or the FBI to stop abortions from taking place in the United States.
Indiana Gov. John Kasich, in addition to rattling the cages of the faithful by saying God likes Pearl Jam, is gaining rapidly in the polls by–gasp!– running a major ad campaign in the early primary states.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has promised to confront the other candidates at Thursday’s debate on whether they “want to always intervene in every civil war around the world.” Wait 15 minutes, though, and Paul’s likely to have another strategy.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is sinking so fast in the polls he’s lucky to even be included in the debate. Desperate times call for desperate measures. On Sunday he warned attendees at an Orange County Koch Brothers sponsored retreat “I don’t think any of us wants to live in a country where a radical Shiite cleric in Tehran can have a nuclear weapon and an ICBM that can hit where we are sitting right now.”
Show Me the Money, 2016 Style
Here’s the really big news from SummerKochFest, 2016.
From the Union-Tribune:
Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch warned America is “done for” if the conservative donors and politicians he gathered at a retreat over the weekend don’t rally others to their cause of demanding a smaller, less-intrusive government.
“History demonstrates that when the American people get motivated by an issue of justice, that they believe is just, extraordinary things can be accomplished,” he said on Sunday, going on to reference the American Revolution, abolition of slavery and women’s and civil rights movements. “We, too, are seeking to right injustices that are holding our country back.”
Listening intently inside a tightly guarded luxury resort in Dana Point were 450 business leaders — many among them top political contributors — and the elected officials who receive that largesse. They’ve been strategizing with officials at the education, policy and activist groups that Koch and his brother David have spent years building up and funding.
…abolishing slavery, women’s and civil rights… and now, instituting an oligarchy is the next step in our nation’s history… Really?
The Stenographers of Record
“Yes, sir, Misters Koch” they said.
And with that, nine major media organizations gained access to last weekend’s Orange County function, provided they played by the rules.
From the Huffington Post:
Several news organizations gained rare access Saturday into a private gathering of influential Republican donors hosted by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.
But journalists covering the three-day event, held at a luxurious California resort, had to agree to an unusual restriction. They weren’t allowed to report the names of any of the 450 donors attending without the individual’s permission.
The Washington Post’s Matea Gold disclosed in a Saturday night piece that her paper was “one of nine news organizations allowed in to cover the traditionally private confab, on the condition that the donors present not be named without their permission.” Politico’s Ken Vogel also noted the ground rules in his story published around the same time.
I guess freedom of speech for the one percent also means freedom from consequence.
One more thought…from the Thom Hartman Program, via The Intercept:
Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.”
Even More Free Speech, If You Can Afford It
Friday was the first filing deadline for campaigns. According to the Brennan Center at NYU,
Across all 21 presidential candidates, campaign committees raised $129 million in 2015, while outside groups set up to benefit specific candidates have raised more than twice as much:$283 million…
…Almost all of outside group fundraising –95 percent– has gone to groups not subject to contribution limits. Of the $283 million raised by outside groups, $270 million was collected bygroups that can take donations of any amount (super PACs and 527s).
The flood of seven-figure contributions to outside groups supporting presidential candidates — officially reported for the first time Friday — illustrates in stark terms how the unprecedented political buying power of wealthy donors has fundamentally shifted U.S. presidential campaigns.
The 67 biggest donors, each of whom gave $1 million or more, donated more than three times as much as the 508,000 smallest donors combined, according to a POLITICO analysis of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
[Insert Pun About Journalists Vomiting]
So, in case you haven’t heard, the local journalism awards dinner last week featured a special bonus for at least 55 of the 170 attendees, including yours truly.
Dozens of people are sick after attending an event at the Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island.
The Society of Professional Journalists hosted a banquet this week, and organizers said more than 50 people have experienced symptoms of food poisoning.
The restaurant owner said they’ve thoroughly cleaned everything since the event.
San Diego County Public Health said they have inspected the restaurant and will continue to investigate. They said there’s no reason anyone should be concerned about eating there.
I took a sick day Friday. Boy, was I sick. I felt like somebody had taken a baseball bat to my abdomen.
ONE person made a comment to SDSPJ president Matt Hall (who’s done a great job of being on top of this) suggesting the Caesar salad served in the buffet could have been responsible for getting people sick. The ‘salad’ made the headline at journo blog Romenesko.
I know people who ate that salad (from the same batch I ate) and didn’t get sick. Figuring out food-borne illness is never simple or easy. And, frankly, some of what I read on social media was just plain ignorance… from people I thought were educated.
No restaurant deliberately sets out to get customers sick. I’ll bet the kitchen personnel at the Bali Hai are conscientious about food safety. But all it takes is one lapse in protocol.
The Health Department has sent questionnaires to everybody–sick or not– who attended the banquet.
My bet is that they’ll NOT trace it to any specific food. Given the seemingly random nature of the illnesses, and the fact that I know one instance where somebody not at the dinner got sick after contact with an infected journalist (me!), the norovirus is a just as likely culprit.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the owners of the Bali Hai were one of the two local restaurant organizations donating big bucks ($5000) to the anti-minimum wage/sick days campaign organized by the Chamber of Commerce in 2014.
Perhaps if one of their employees could have afforded to take a sick day off…
On This Day: 1936 – Jesse Owens won the first of his four Olympic gold medals. 1968 – The first Newport Pop Festival opened in Costa Mesa. The lineup included Tiny Tim, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Grateful Dead, Chambers Brothers, Charles Lloyd, James Cotton Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Byrds, Alice Cooper, Steppenwolf, Sonny and Cher, Canned Heat, Electric Flag, Butterfield Blues Band, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, Illinois Speed Press and Things to Come. Admission was $5.50. (True fact: I crashed the gate and saw it for free) 1981 – Some 15,000 air traffic controllers struck. President Reagan threatened to fire any who do not return to work within 48 hours, saying they “have forfeited their jobs” if they do not. Most stayed out, and were fired August 5.
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