Just A Bill … Sittin’ Here On Capital Hill

Last Saturday night, a Police Sergeant in Houston, Texas, was killed when he responded to a call of domestic abuse.  The officer was Sergeant Christopher Brewster, he was 32 years old, and now he is irrevocably dead.  Just another statistic?  There is the danger, that with more than 36,000 gun fatalities already this year, each one becomes just another statistic.

But Houston Chief of Police, Art Acevedo, has seen enough and he is angry …art-acevedo

“We all know in law enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate and Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are not … getting the Violence Against Women Act reauthorized is because the NRA doesn’t like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends who abuse their girlfriends.  And who killed our sergeant? A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend.”

H.R. 1585: The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, is one of more than 250 bills that have been passed by the House of Representatives and are now languishing in what has come to be known as “Mitch McConnell’s graveyard”.  McConnell has called himself the “grim reaper” of progressive policies in the Senate.McConnell-graveyardSome of the other bills that have not seen the light of day in the Senate …

  • H.R. 1: For the People Act – aims to require states to provide an online option for voter registration and allow voters to register the same day they go to the polls. It would also require states to automatically register citizens who don’t register themselves. To protect elections from any foreign meddling, the bill mandates that states use paper ballots and that the Department of Homeland Security evaluate threats to election systems 180 days prior to an election and inform states of their conclusions. The bill includes campaign finance and ethics reform measures, including mandating presidential candidates release their tax returns.
  • H.R. 5: The Equality Act – seeks to provide comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans in employment, education, federal funding, housing, public accommodations and more.
  • H.R. 6: The American Dream and Promise Act – would protect young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children — known as Dreamers — and establish a path to citizenship for more than 2 million immigrants without legal status.
  • H.R. 8: The Bipartisan Background Checks Act – seeks to expand background check requirements on private sales, including those at gun shows, on the internet or through classified ads.
  • H.R. 9: The Climate Action Now Act – would block the Trump administration from exiting the Obama-era Paris climate agreement.
  • H.R. 987: The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act – seeks to lower prescription drug prices, bolster the Affordable Care Act and protect care for those with pre-existing conditions.
  • H.R. 1644: The Save the Internet Act – would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s party-line vote in 2017 to repeal net neutrality that prohibited broadband companies from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain websites.

im-just-a-bill-6These and a couple hundred more bills have run into a brick wall named Mitch McConnell as they passed from the House to the Senate.  Now … as I see it, it is the job of the senators, including McConnell, to legislate.  That means, we are paying them $174,000 per year … except McConnell who, as Senate Majority Leader is being paid $193,400.  For. Doing. Nothing.

Chief Acevedo places Sergeant Brewster’s death firmly at the door of McConnell and others who are stubbornly and without purpose ignoring their duty.  I would agree, and I would also ask how many others have died because of the inaction of the Senate?  More than once, McConnell has said he will refuse to consider any legislation that does not have Trump’s support.  WTF???  Trump is not the employer of the U.S. Congress!!!  WE THE PEOPLE are their employers!

Now, we have an election coming up next year, and Mitch McConnell is up for re-election.  We can hope that the people of Kentucky have had enough by now and will vote him out.  Or …

Article I, Section 5 of the United States Constitution provides that “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”

Yes, I know it’s a longshot, for most of the republicans in both chambers of Congress have drunk Trump’s poisoned Kool-Aid and are too cowardly to stray from the party line.  In other words, my friends, they have set aside their oaths of office, have set aside their duty to We the People, and are intent only on pleasing the ‘man’ in the Oval Office and their big-money donors such as the NRA and fossil fuel industries.  And the ‘man’ in the Oval Office has also set aside his oath of office … well, actually he never had any intention of honouring his commitment to the people of this nation … and is about to be impeached for doing so.

Folks … our government is B-R-O-K-E-N.  We are on a rudderless ship that, as I have said before, is headed for a big iceberg (one of the few left).  How much longer are we going to put up with this?  We damn well better make some sweeping changes on November 3rd, 2020, else we WILL hit that iceberg.vote-animated

 

Give Us Back Our Elections …

One of my pet peeves is the 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (FEC), in which the Court ruled that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political communications by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.  In a nutshell, it opened the door to unlimited donations by wealthy corporations, such lobbying groups as the NRA, and others to basically buy our politicians.  This is why we have a Congress that is unwilling to enact gun regulations, despite the fact that some 80% of the people in this country are in favour of such things as enhanced background checks and a ban on assault weapons.  This is why our very lives are placed at risk by the rolling back of environmental regulations that are so crucial to preserving life on earth.  And this is why there is an ever-widening income gap between the billionaires and the rest of us who live payday to payday.  And this is why ours is no longer a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, but rather of, by, and for only the wealthy and powerful people.

I have featured Robert Reich on this blog a few times before.  He is an economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. He was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.  He, better than most, understand the inner workings of our government.  Sans partisanship, he explains why we simply must overturn Citizens United, must get the big money out of politics, and return our elections to We the People.  Please take three minutes to watch …

A Class Act — Ilhan Omar

It has nothing to do with how much money a person has, nor does it relate to a person’s position in society.  You cannot purchase it … you either have it, or you don’t.  Barack and Michelle Obama both have it in spades.  Donald and Melania Trump do not.  What is it, you ask?  It is a thing called ‘class’.

U.S. House Representative Ilhan Omar has this thing called class. ilhan-omarMs. Omar has been the target of some of the most vicious racist and Islamophobic threats and verbal attacks imaginable.  Why?  Because she is a Muslim, because the ‘man’ who is masquerading as president of this nation has instilled a fear of ‘other’ into some 40% of our population and has, in fact, launched a personal attack against Ms. Ilhan.

And yet through it all, she has retained her grace and dignity.

Back in March, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr. of Addison, New York, called Ms. Ilhan’s D.C. office and spoke to a staff member …

“Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. I’ll put a bullet in her [expletive] skull.”

patrick-carlineoOn Monday, November 18th, Mr. Carlineo pleaded guilty to threatening to assault and murder the freshman congresswoman and for being a felon in possession of firearms.  He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Carlineo hates Muslims and even went so far as to tell the FBI when they began their investigation into him, “if our forefathers were still alive, they’d put a bullet in her head”.

Ms. Ilhan, whose life he threatened, however asks for compassion for the man …

“We must apply a system of compassion to criminal justice. Who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?”

This, folks, is class.  It is compassion.  It is human decency.

Although she had just turned 19 when, on 11 September 2001, 19 Middle-Eastern terrorists flew planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, some have sought to place the blame, by extension, on her shoulders.  Trump himself re-tweeted an obnoxious tweet several months ago that falsely claimed she was seen partying in the aftermath of 9/11.  And, in the West Virginia State Capitol, a poster was at a table in the Capitol’s rotunda …ilhan-omar-911The poster led to a brawl outside the House of Delegates that eventually spilled into the chamber, where at least one person was injured.  The body’s sergeant at arms submitted a letter of resignation at the end of the day after being accused of a making an anti-Muslim slur during the dispute.

And then in August, Ms. Omar received an anonymous death threat …ilhan-omar-death-threatThis was shortly after Trump said that Ms. Omar and three other Congresswomen of colour should “go back to the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, and then-Senate candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore, echoed Trump, saying “… Trump was right, she should go back to Somalia from whence she came”.  When such ugly talk comes from our politicians, especially the faux president, is it really any wonder she receives death threats?

And that brings us to this week, when her republican challenger in next year’s election, Daniella Stella, got herself and her campaign banned from Twitter for her hateful tweets.  On Tuesday, she posted …

“If it is proven @IlhanMN passed sensitive info to Iran, she should be tried for #treason and hanged.”

And she followed up with an image of a stick-figure being hanged.  Her reference to Ms. Omar passing “sensitive info to Iran” stems from a conspiracy theory started by Canadian businessman Alan Bender who has links to the Saudi government, and he implicates everyone from Jared Kushner to Ty Cobb to Ms. Omar.  The story has been proven false, yet apparently Ms. Stella failed to get that memo.

Danielle-StellaThis is not the first time that Daniella Stella has come onto my radar.  Back in July, I wrote a snippet about her having been arrested twice for shoplifting, and once for trying to outrun the police when they stopped her for driving drunk!  She is also a supporter of the conspiracy group QAnon, if that tells you anything.  I don’t think Ilhan Omar needs to worry overly much about keeping her seat next year, if Ms. Stella is the best the Republican Party of Minnesota has to offer!

I began this post talking about class.  What is class, exactly?  It can be a lot of things – being kind and compassionate, being calm in the face of adversity, walking away from a fight.  Class is one of those things that … you know it when you see it.  Class is definitely not defined by racism or any other form of bigotry.  It is not defined by cruelty.  Those who would attack Ms. Ilhan Omar simply because of her ethnicity, her religion, or the fact that she is a woman, are the ones who have no class.  Ms. Ilhan Omar has more of it in her little finger than Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Daniella Stella, and Patrick Carlineo combined.

Note to readers:  Saturday Surprise will return next week … probably.

Just Two Snarky Snippets …

Well, guys, Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to get down to business here.  Filosofa is back on the job with a dose of snark to start your Friday with a grrrrrrrrrowl!


Donnie goes on the campaign trail … in London!

Guess what, folks?  Trump is going to be visiting the UK again next week.  Yep, he’s going back to embarrass us some more, demean our allies yet again, but that’s not all!  He’s also planning to hold a fundraiser there, whereby he plans to collect $3 million in donations from the Brits.  You can pick up your jaws from the floor now … yes, you heard me right … he’s going on a campaign rally, albeit a high-class campaign rally, in London.  But, more about that in a minute.

The initial reason for his trip is the annual NATO summit.  Trump has bullied and threatened until finally the NATO leadership has given in to at least one of his ‘demands’, and they have reduced the amount the U.S. contributes to the alliance’s central budget.  According to the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg …

“The U.S. will pay less, Germany will pay more, so now the U.S. and Germany will pay the same.”

The concession was made in hopes that there would be no grandstanding and drama at the summit, but I’m not holding my breath, for no doubt Trump will find something else to bitch about, will find yet another way to humiliate the citizens of the U.S.  To all my UK friends, please accept my sincere apologies in advance.

Now, about that fundraiser …

The invitation lists three tiers of donors:

  • For $125,000, a donor can join a roundtable, get a photo with the president and attend the reception.
  • For $50,000, a donor gets the photo and reception.
  • For $35,000, they can just attend the reception.

First of all, who in their right mind would pose for a picture with him???  But, to pay $125,000, or even $50,000 for it???  What comes to mind, though, is … what would anybody in the UK donating to his campaign have to gain?  Now, your ordinary person like me or you might kick in $25 to a presidential hopeful, and if we did, it would be only to help the candidate we believe best qualified for the job, for we are not in a position to trade favours.  But, when people donate hundreds of thousands of dollars, they do so in exchange for political favours.  Ponder on that one for a bit.

It is said that he is expecting to attract expatriates, and that donors must present a valid U.S. passport in order to attend, but … I guess I just have a suspicious mind.  And … if an expatriate is living in London, it seems unlikely to me that he would have an interest in helping Trump win next year’s election. Trump-State-VisitThe fundraiser will be hosted by Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, co-chair Tommy Hicks Jr., national finance chair Todd Ricketts, and Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale.  I sincerely hope the Brits put on their best display and that the baby Trump balloon is flying high!


Donnie’s twin across the pond?

I have long said that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shared DNA with Donald Trump.  Two peas in a pod.  Granted, Boris is smarter and more literate than Donnie, and even slightly easier on the eyes, but beyond that, they think alike, which is no good thing for either the U.S. or the UK.  As we all know, Donald Trump and his band of thugs have done everything in their power to roll back environmental regulations, putting animals, people and our very planet at risk.  Apparently, Boris isn’t much of a believer in climate change either.

On Thursday, a British television station, Channel 4 News, hosted a climate debate ahead of next month’s election.  Neither Prime Minister Johnson nor Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage bothered to show up.  Nigel’s excuse was that the discussion wouldn’t be about Brexit, apparently the only topic he knows how to talk about, but his absence was no great loss.  One would think, however, that the nation’s leader would be concerned enough to want to attend, to share his own views with those who will be voting in just a couple of weeks.ice-sculpture-2The Brits know how to do things up right, though.  Since Boris and Nigel failed to show up, their places on the debate stage were occupied by ice sculptures with their party’s logos.  Melting ice sculptures.  The network said the ice sculptures “represent the emergency on planet Earth.”  Seems fair enough to me.  Nigel’s absence wasn’t much noted, but Boris’ absence fueled criticism that he has sought to avoid both the public and tough questions from the press during the election campaign. In typical Trump fashion, Boris’ party, the Conservative Party, accused the network of ‘partisan bias’ just as Trump continually claims the U.S. media are biased and ‘out to get him’.  And again, in a Trumpian-style movement, the party has threatened to ‘review the network’s broadcast license’ … but not ‘til after the election.  Boris and Donnie … possibly twins separated at birth?  Both sore losers, both with juvenile temperaments, neither putting the best interests of their nations in the foreground.  Oh yeah, and both with really fake hair that looks like the straw in a horse’s stall.  And apparently, I’m not the only one who sees the resemblance …

twinstwins-2twins-3twins-4twins-5

Giving Thanks

Our friend Jeff takes this opportunity to tell us a little bit about how & why he and Greg started On the Fence Voters, and what direction they plan for the coming year. I am looking forward to working with Jeff on a project or two in the coming months … thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

With news coming at us at blinding speed, it’s tempting to do a rant on HIM today. I’m not going to do it, though. There will be plenty of time for that in the coming weeks. We have turbulent waters ahead, and it’s going to take all of us to stay focused so that we can exile the current President of the United States to one of his failing properties. We cannot allow the man to win a second term.

But today, I’d like to veer in another direction. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and well, I’d like to take the time to give thanks.

When my long-time pal Greg, aka Ohio Realist, called to ask if I’d be interested in doing this project in early 2018, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Both of us had remained in contact with each other after I moved to the West Coast in 2004…

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Letter To Republican Senator

I think that if there is a chance that the U.S. Senate will remember their oath of office, will remember that their oath is to the U.S. Constitution, not the president, and that their loyalty damn well better be to We the People, it will only happen if we remind them.  Seems many of them have forgotten where to look for their conscience, their values.  I think the time has come to remind them.

Below is the letter I have sent to the republican senator in my own state.  Feel free to take any of the ideas expressed within if you write to your own senators.

Dear Senator Portman,

I am writing to you today, because as a resident of the State of Ohio, a citizen of the United States, I am very concerned about the actions of the Senate. 

First, I would like to remind you that you took an oath whereby you swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution.  Your loyalty is to the people of this nation, not the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office today.  We currently have the most corrupt president in the history of this nation, and frankly he has brought our reputation to its knees.  We are no longer regarded as a trusted ally by virtually any nation.  We have let the people of the entire world down with our complete disregard for the environment.  And all this has occurred in the last three years, and all because of the corruption that begins and ends with Donald Trump.

I believe it is a foregone conclusion that the House of Representatives will vote to impeach Donald Trump, possibly before the end of this year.  And then, Senator, the ball will be in your court.  The majority of people in this nation support the impeachment, conviction, and removal from office of Donald Trump.  Nothing less is acceptable, for the fate of not only this nation, but every nation in the world is at stake.  I firmly believe that within the next twelve months, Donald Trump will do everything in his power to ensure that next year’s election will be so dishonest and unfair that it will be a complete sham, a mockery of any democratic principles that remain in our nation.

I ask that you think long and hard about the actions of the Senate, search your own conscience and ask yourself if your loyalty to Donald Trump is of more value than your loyalty to the people who voted you into office.  Is your dedication to Donald Trump truly worth selling out your own values?  Is it worth risking your own career?  Can you look your three children in the eye and tell them how important it is to always ‘do the right thing’?  And perhaps for you the most important question:  Do you wish to be re-elected in 2022?  We the People have long memories, and if you fail us this time, I promise to do everything in my power to see that you never serve a third term in the U.S. Senate.

I think you know the right thing to do.  Please remember your oath of office, remember the people you are paid to serve, and do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, voter/citizen/taxpayer

The Outcome of the Senate Trial is Not a Done Deal. Here’s Why.

I, like the majority of us, have been guilty of lamenting that though the House will almost certainly impeach the most corrupt president we’ve ever had, I was equally certain that the Senate would never vote to convict and remove him. My reasoning being that it will require 20 republican senators and every single democratic senator to achieve the 2/3 super-majority required and there are not 20 republican senators with integrity. While that may well be the case, I was wrong in that I forgot, briefly, what a powerful voice We the People can have when we work together to use it. Our friend TokyoSand reminds us …

Political⚡Charge

Screen Shot 2019-11-24 at 10.47.58 PM

Do you remember the days and weeks leading up to the Senate’s vote on the disastrous Republican “repeal and replace” healthcare bill during Trump’s first year as president?

I do. Thousands of everyday Americans called their Senators, and attended town halls, and demanded meetings in their local offices, and wrote op-eds for their local papers, and more. We demanded to be heard on this incredibly important topic and we did not give up. Back in 2017, we had no reason to believe that the Republican Senators would vote the way Democrats wanted them to. But we cared a LOT about this issue and nothing was going to stop us.

And then we won. The Republicans failed to get enough votes to pass their bill.

We’ve all seen the power of a motivated citizenry. So I’m very perplexed as to why everyone, and I mean everyone, says out loud that the…

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Throw The Bums Out!!!

Politics in the United States, or anywhere for that matter, should not divide the people of the nation.  Politics is not supposed to be a game played by only those who can afford to play.  Politics is not supposed to be about the holder of the highest office in the land seeking to commit crimes under the very noses of those who put him into office.

Politics should not be about Donald Trump saying that yes, he did things that were against the law and will continue to do them, and there is nothing that the people he purports to represent, the people who pay his salary (before you say it, yes, he does receive a salary) can do about it.

Politics should not be about a representative who is involved in a university sex scandal bullying his peers in an attempt to validate the criminal activities of the president.  In the United States, the U.S. Constitution provides for a system of ‘checks and balances’ between the three branches of the federal government.  Instead of following the Constitution, though, those who have taken an oath, who have sworn to uphold that very document, are trampling it every day.  The republicans in Congress are naught but paid lackeys … hired hands who say “Yessir” and “Whatever you say, sir”, and when told to jump, ask “How high, sir?” to Donald Trump.

President Lincoln proclaimed in his Gettysburg Address on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863 …

“… government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Friends, it has either perished or is lying dormant today!  Today’s government is of the Donald, by the Donald, and for the Donald … nobody else matters, not even to about half of our representatives and senators in Congress!  You want to talk about ‘quid pro quo’?  Here’s the real ‘quid pro quo’ … Donald says to your district’s representative, or your state’s senator …

“You gotta support me … you gotta throw up roadblock after roadblock to get this impeachment thing stopped.  You do this, I will come do a rally in your state to support you before the election.  You don’t do it?  I will tell so many filthy lies about you, call you so many ugly names, that you couldn’t get a job collecting trash.”

Our elected officials have forgotten that Donald Trump is NOT their boss!  I am their boss, you are their boss, every one of 330 million+ people in this country are their boss.  Donald Trump is not.  We must remind them, and there are two ways to do that.  First, we must call and write to them and inform them in no uncertain terms that they will rot in hell before we will ever vote for them again.  Second, we must vote them OUT!

My own representative in the House, Warren Davidson, is a grade-A jackass who panders to Donald Trump, bends over as far as he tells him to, licks his boots, and then runs around the state doing Donald’s dirty work.  Devin Nunes of California is a weasel, a little yappy dog who does Donald’s bidding even when it is unethical, immoral, and illegal.  He plainly broke the law when, during the Mueller investigation, he told lie after lie and passed on information to Trump that he had no right to do.  The Federal Election Commission is investigating Nunes for campaign finance violations.  Jim Jordan is a bully who is under investigation by the State of Ohio for his role in the Ohio State University sex scandals when he was the assistant wrestling coach some twenty years ago.  This is the bunch of jerks into whose hands we have entrusted our lives, my friends!

We’ve come a long way from 1787 when a group of men gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to draft a document, a guideline for the newly formed United States of America.  Those men hoped to put forth a set of laws that would serve as a foundation for the government and the people of this nation.  They were deep thinkers, unlike almost any in our government today.  One of their foremost goals was to ensure that we could trust our government, that we would not be forced to tolerate corrupt politicians or unfair laws.  I think that the framers of the U.S. Constitution would be appalled if they could see the mockery that our government is today.

Donald Trump is turning this nation into something it was never intended to be, and our elected representatives in Congress are helping him do it.  Trump has committed impeachable crimes, and the House of Representatives is in the process of impeaching him for those crimes.  However, the republicans in both chambers of Congress are doing everything in their power to turn the impeachment process into a three-ring circus.  Each and every one of the republicans in Congress are guilty of obstructing justice.  Nunes is threatening to open a second investigation and call his own witnesses.  He and others have apparently taken an oath of fealty to Donald Trump and forgotten about the oath of office they took to this nation.  There is one and only one way to rescue what is left of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”

Throw The Bums Out!!!

How About Schiff for President?

Adam Schiff, who I once thought of as rather ineffectual, has proven himself to be quite the opposite over the past few weeks during the impeachment hearings. He has stood strong in the face of much criticism, and stoically gone on about the business of the day. Our friend Jeff tells us a bit about Adam and floats an idea … not for the present, but perhaps for some point in the future. Thanks, Jeff, for giving Adam his due credit, and for helping us to get to know him a bit better!

On The Fence Voters

Schiff’s stature grows with inquiry leadership

It’s been quite the wild ride the past two weeks. I’ve weighed in with my thoughts throughout this impeachment inquiry. So many things have stood out—the patriotic testimony of career public servants, the continued obstruction by the President of the United States, and the sycophantic performances of the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, to name a few.

But something else also stood out as well. While I’ve gotten to know a bit more about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff the last couple of years, his stewardship over the hearings was beyond stellar, in my view. The contrast between himself and the Ranking Member, Devin Nunes, couldn’t have been more stark. His steely resolve and iron-willed determination differed mightily from the conspiracy theorist and Trump boot-licker Nunes.

Time and again, Republicans attacked his leadership, as well as the rules he set down before the…

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The Great Debate … #5

I just finished watching most of tonight’s Democratic debate (I had to take a 15-minute break to roll a pack of smokes).  This is the first of the debates this year that I have watched for a number of reasons.  One, when there were 20 candidates on the debate stage, it seemed pointless.  No way was any candidate going to be able to have enough time for us to get a good feel for his/her platform, ideas, and persona.  Second, I actually hate watching debates.  Why?  Because I do not like to see the infighting that typically takes place … the sly remarks, the arguing, the cutting of other candidates.  Third, because as a rule, I see little value in them … it often turns into more of a personality contest than an actual presentation of ideas.  Tonight, the field was narrowed to a more manageable, though still twice as large as it should be, number of candidates (10), the infighting wasn’t too bad, and I came away with a somewhat better idea of the differences between the candidate’s platforms.  I wanted to share my (unsolicited) thoughts about the debate while it is fresh in my mind, for by tomorrow I will have forgotten half of my impressions.

Overall, my biggest complaint about the debate topics was the omission, once again, of any meaningful discussion about climate change.  It was touched on briefly, but far too little relative to its importance, and only in the most general of ways.

The candidates, in my order of least to most likely to win the nomination (I have included links to their Politico profile which includes their platform):

Tom Steyer speaks well, has some good ideas such as term limits for Congress, and is an environmentalist.  He is not, however, qualified to be president of the United States.  He is a billionaire businessman … we do not need another of those.  He stands no chance and would be doing the nation a favour by dropping out, so that future debates can focus on the more viable candidates.

I found Tulsi Gabbard to be incredibly arrogant and combative.  Gabbard is a veteran of the Iraq War, and I respect that.  But, she has been highly critical of such people as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic Party in general, while cozying up to the likes of Steve Bannon, and has among her fans, the ignominious Tucker Carlson.  She struck me as somehow ‘false’, not genuine. She is polling very low and, like Steyer, would be better off dropping out.

Amy Klobuchar has some very good ideas, such as ending Citizen’s United (one of my top priorities), and is well-spoken, but something about her bothered me, and quite honestly, I don’t know what it was.  She had one line, however, that brought the house down and had me laughing out loud:  “If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.”  That line alone should bring her up a few points in the polls!  I have mixed thoughts about Klobuchar, however since I don’t expect to see her in the top 3, I’m not going to overthink it.

This was the first time I really took much notice of Andrew Yang, and I liked what I saw and heard.  He was very down-to-earth, his humanitarianism seemed genuine, and he came across as very intelligent.  However, he has no government experience of any sort, is an entrepreneur, and that just simply falls short of the qualifications in my book.  It might not have three years ago, but after the experience of the current administration, I want somebody in office who at least halfway knows what they’re doing and how our government operates.

Kamala Harris has always impressed me, and tonight was no exception.  She has some experience in government at both state and federal levels, having been the Attorney General of California for 6 years, San Francisco District Attorney for 7 years, and has currently served as a U.S. Senator from California since 2017.  She speaks with passion, intelligence, and I found nothing in her platform that I disagreed with.

I like Cory Booker.  No, I don’t think he stands a snowball’s chance, but I like him, like his ideas, his platform, and think that while maybe 2020 isn’t his time, perhaps 2028 might be.  I disagreed with him on one thing, that he is against increasing taxes on the wealthy, though he said he definitely does support estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and he agreed that the nation needs to find additional sources of revenue.  He was friendly, congenial to the other candidates, and his closing statement brought a tear to my eyes when he noted that Representative John Lewis, a hero in my book, was in the audience and referred to Mr. Lewis’ civil rights heroism of the 1960s.

Pete Buttigieg was ranked as one of the debate ‘winners’ by The Washington Post, and I would agree.  He is intelligent, and while his governing experience is limited to being Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012, it is certainly more than the current president has.  He speaks well, has some good points, such as in the areas of housing, minimum wage, and education.  He took some guff tonight, as was expected given that he has been rising in the polls of late.  I rank Mayor Pete fourth of the ten remaining candidates.

Which brings us to the top three.  I truly cannot rank these as #1, #2, #3, because they are all excellent candidates and I am very much torn between the three, yet all three have the same Achilles Heel … their age.

bernie_palestine_debateBernie Sanders did a great job tonight.  He was passionate, spoke with strength and compassion, had all the right answers, in my book.  He had many good moments in the debate, but I think the one that received the warmest audience response was when he said, “It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel. But we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve.”  The concern with Bernie Sanders is his age and health.  He is 78 years old and recently suffered a heart attack.

Elizabeth Warren had the most speaking time on the debate stage, and I absolutely loved the passion with which she spoke, not to mention that I always like her ideology.  One of the most controversial topics was Medicare-for-All.  I liked many of the ideas that were floated, but I think perhaps I liked Warren’s best, for hers was to phase it in over a three-year period in order to have time to work out the kinks, and to give people time to “feel it and taste it and live with it”.  As with Bernie Sanders, her age is a factor, at 70.

I have thought, since the beginning of this never-ending campaign season, that Joe Biden is the most viable candidate, and … I still think that, with reservations.  Biden, obviously, has the most relevant experience, and he is more moderate than some of the others that I like.  The sad truth is that next year’s presidential election is not about any issues … it’s not about climate change, health care, education, foreign policy, housing, or any of the other issues.  It is about one thing and one thing only:  Who can beat Donald Trump.  Everything else is secondary.  Biden is, of the ten remaining candidates, the most qualified, and the most ‘trusted’, for he is a known factor, while the others are unknowns, relatively speaking.  Biden would be a good president.  However, as far as the debates, I must admit that relative to almost all the others, Joe Biden was not exciting … in fact, he damn near put me to sleep. Additionally, Biden gets cantankerous when challenged … not a good thing.  At the moment, I think he is the best choice to beat Trump, but … for a number of reasons, that may change.

The most recent polls …

Candidate Economist/YouGove Politico/Morning Consult
Biden 30 32
Warren 22 17
Sanders 12 20
Buttigieg 9 8
Harris 4 5
Bloomberg 0 3
Yang 2 3
Gabbard 3 2
Klobuchar 2 2
Booker 1 2
Steyer 1 1

Overall, the debate was worth watching, and I was glad I did.  I’ll likely watch one or two more if I can.  Though it wasn’t captioned, the audio quality was excellent, and I had no trouble hearing the candidates.  I would like to see the next one, which I believe is later this month, whittled down to five candidates, but I am not holding my breath there.  The candidates engaged in a bit of humour from time to time, which helped, and I chuckled aloud more than once, ‘til finally daughter Chris asked what the heck I was watching!

I will have more on the candidates and their platforms in the coming weeks/months, but those are my thoughts about tonight’s debate.  It’s gonna be a loooooooooonnnngg 12 months, my friends.