CNN-Spiracy, Day Two

Howie Kurtz is on the job, offering his vapid observation that there is a controversy a-swirlin’, and the Malkin Brigade has upped the ante, as they are now outraged that one of the questioners was a FORMER CAIR intern. Apparently, in order to ask a Republican candidate a question, not only must your current occupation and allegiances pass the Malkin test, but your past affiliations as well.

Meanwhile, the rabble at CNN respond:

CNN also aired questions from supporters of Democratic candidates John Edwards and Barack Obama.

And that’s fine by the network, which is standing by its question selection process and lashing out at critics who say the debate demonstrated CNN’s liberal bias.

“We’re focused on the questions, not the questioners,” said Sam Feist, CNN’s political director.

“There were 5,000 questions sent in and we wanted to have the best questions. I think we found them,” he said, pointing out that the estimated 4.9 million viewers made it the most-watched presidential primary debate in cable history.

CNN’s decision to focus on the question, and not the questioner, makes me wonder if they have an anti-Latin bias, what with their outright rejection of argumentum ad hominem. It probably is pointless to note that Michelle initially had no problem with the questions, as she stated that “the questions were almost all coherent and well-framed.” Good questions clearly take a backseat to fake outrage.

And finally, the deep thinkers at Red State are demanding a do-over, complete with a virtual petition from the entire editorship:

1) Republican candidates for President should boycott CNN.

2) Republican viewers should boycott CNN until they fire Sam Feist, their political director; and David Bohrman, Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of the debate.

3) One or more of the Republican candidates should demand a do over wherein we can have a substantive debate about substantive issues that exclude CNN’s agenda, which is clearly out of touch with the Republican party, and the drivel we saw from YouTube.

Though it is rare we take this additional step from a Directors post, we the undersigned contributors want to make sure our names are attached hereto:

{a long list of Red State Editors who you probably don’t know because they banned you from commenting the first time you went there and you said to hell with them and never went back}

It is always exciting to attach your name to calls for someone else’s job, especially when they have done nothing wrong. I salute the brave patriots at Red State for this act of courage. When Democrats and former CAIR interns are allowed to ask 4 of approximately 30 questions, it is a clear sign that there is something deeply flawed with the system. Someone needs to be fired for this outrage.

At any rate, we agree with one point being made by Red State- there should be a do-over. We suggest the rational network for this would be Pat Robertson’s CBN, and we suggest that it should be held at the only place a Republican can really feel safe these days- Guantanamo Bay (if Gitmo doesn’t work out, there is always Baghdad! After all, it is safer than Detroit.) . Those who wish to attend in the studio audience will be required to bring their voter registration card, sign a loyalty oath, and bring some proof of past commitment to the cause- a Peace Through Strength button from the 80’s, a highlighted copy of a Coulter text, Confederate Flag underwear, etc. Additionally, CBN can engage in a vigorous vetting of the candidate, and only quality questions from good honest Republicans will be asked. Questions like:

1.) Hillary, Satan, and Osama bin Laden are standing in front of you, and you only have one bullet. Who do you shoot?
2.) President Bush- great President, or Best President EVER.

I really think Red State is on to something, and feel free to help out with potential questions.

*** Update ***

3.) “Why do your Democratic counterparts insist on debasing the political process with crude insults? Please confine your answer to one candidate only—Hitlery Clinton, Barack Osama, or the Breck Girl?”
4.) When engaging in extramarital gay sex, do you have to wear a wetsuit? Two?
5.) “They’re both all-powerful deities, but who would win a fight between Ronald Reagan and Jesus Christ?”

*** Update ***

Red State and Human Events are moving the ball forward:

RedState and Human Events are happy to combine forces and offer the following.

We have a base of readers who represent the Republican wing of the Republican Party. You – and the Republican Party – deserve to face the questions posed by undecided Republicans, not Democratic activists. We will solicit and obtain YouTube videos from those people and vet each questioner to establish that they are – really – – undecided Republicans. We hope to include soldiers in the field in Iraq, Young Republicans, and others who still have not decided among you.

WOO! I hope they use some of our questions.

Not Enjoying Being Right

Kevin Drum on the new details in John Edwards’s health plan:

First, do we really want the IRS enforcing healthcare mandates? That’s not what the IRS is for, and Americans are (rightly) suspicious of using the IRS as a quasi-police agency to enforce whatever federal law the current administration feels like using it for. This is probably not a constructive road to go down.

Second, a Rube Goldberg enforcement program like does nothing except highlight the absurdity of individual mandate healthcare plans in the first place. If you’re really this serious about getting every man, woman, and child in the country enrolled, why go through all this? Why not just do it like Medicare, where the funding mechanism is the existing tax system and everyone is enrolled automatically? It amounts to the same thing and it’s cheaper, easier, and less intrusive.

Third, this is a political loser. Do we really want to treat people who don’t sign up for healthcare like deadbeat dads and Chapter 11 refugees by garnishing their wages? Unless I’m way off base, this is just not going to go over well. Republicans will have a field day with it.

Yup, like I observed back in February. Politicians try to propose these public-private mashup plans because (1) incremental change feels like less of a risk, and (2) some genius advisor always convinces them that they can gimmick the incentive structure to avoid outraging every major interest group. It. Can’t. Happen. Adding another layer of bureaucracy without fixing the underlying mess will just increase the opportunities for sick people to die broke.

More than that, it’s hard to believe that the Edwards camp even let that first point out the door. The IRS as a healthcare enforcer? Whichever advisor proposed that gem should be beaten, fired and blackballed.

Look, Medicare works great. So does the VA. Presumably our country have a deep enough field that we can put together a panel of non-morons to figure out what works best with public systems around world and the ones that we already have, and recommend how to make them work here. Instead we get these weaselly plans that are less than useless because they either die in utero from not exciting anybody enough to beat the hysterical opposition, or they fail in execution and sour the country on Democratic health plans.

Grow some balls and propose single payer. The chamber of commerce, which is getting beaten to shit by the crappy private system, will stand behind it and insurers will go apeshit one way or the other. We might as well make it a fight worth winning.

Trent Lott Resigns

As usual, The Onion gets it right!

Trent Lott, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, announced that he would be leaving office at the end of the year. What do you think?

Old Woman Old Man Young Man
Angel McCaskey,
Book Seller
“See, you don’t have to wait for a public disgrace before quitting. You can do it two, or even three weeks before.”
Phil Windstrup,
Systems Analyst
“With Lott’s announcement and Dog the Bounty Hunter’s cancellation, white supremacy really took one on the chin this month.”
Kevin Potter,
“This is a great loss for our country, but a huge gain for the principle of decency.”

Chuck Hagel Hates America

If you haven’t read it already, you can read Chuck Hagel’s remarks to the CFR here. Most of you are familiar with this tidbit:

I’ll give you my personal opinion. I know I’m not known for that, but — (laughter) — that’s why I’m so highly regarded at the White House. History will make that determination, as you know, Bob, more than almost anyone. And I’ll leave that to history as to its determination. As to my personal opinion, which I have not been shy about sharing, I think as most of you know in speeches or interviews, this administration in my opinion has been as unprepared as any administration I’m aware of, not only the ones that I have been somehow connected to and that’s been every administration — either I’ve been in Washington or worked within an administration or Congress or some way dealing with them since the first Nixon administration. I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus — almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade.

However, that is just a small portion of the talk, and in response to adirect question. The rest of the talk is less exciting, but still worth your time. This portion regarding the surge is particularly relevant:

But to get back on the focus of your question, it seems to me, Richard, that as we look at Iraq, we are in a situation where we have today, almost at the end of our fifth year, more troops in Iraq today than we’ve ever had. We’ve had more American casualties in Iraq this year than we’ve ever had. We have more American troops in Afghanistan than we’ve ever had. We’re at the peak of both, in our fifth and sixth years, and we’re getting ready for our sixth and seventh years.

Now, what does that mean? What can we do to go forward? Well, I asked the question of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker at hearings in September regarding the surge — “Give us more time” — and I said, “More time for what? What is the purpose here?”

It’s not a military tactical victory. I mean, we had most every military tactical victory in Vietnam, with the United States winning every tactical victory. We’re winning every tactical victory in Iraq. But the point is to buy time toward some resolution, some political dynamic that can set in motion enough of the requirements for the Iraqi people to govern themselves, defend themselves, support themselves, and bring some stability to a society to let them start working it through. That supposedly is the objective.

Well, yes, our casualties are down. Yes, we’ve seen progress. But what’s disconnected from that is where we go from here. You asked about General Lutz’ point. I’m not sure that we’re in a position ready to sign any kind of an agreement with Iraq. For example, there’s no oil law. There’s no de-Ba’athification law.

All the laws that we put at the front end on benchmarks — and, by the way, those days are over when people say, at least in my opinion, some of my colleagues in the Congress, “Well, let’s set up a new set of benchmarks.” No, we’ve passed the benchmark point. We’re in a whole different zone here.

And if we don’t see some progress — and even General Odierno and General Petraeus recently have said, in a very frustrated way, the military is doing their job. We never had enough troops, in my opinion, that went in there. Again, we’re not going to go back and unwind that. But the military has done a magnificent job of achieving the objectives that we’ve asked them to do and more. But we’ve not seen that translate into any political progress, which in the end is all that counts.

I have blockquoted more than enough, and Tim will bitch at me for not taking into consideration those of you reading on a laptop, so just go read the whole thing yourself.

Still Waiting…

I am still waiting for someone to tell me which questions were unfair, and which questioners were “unfairly” plucked from the “fringe” to make the Republicans look bad. Here again is my challenge:

So they think the questions unfairly represented the current GOP? Fine. Which questions? Which questions were plucked from the fringe?

I am betting that I can find someone in the top 500 of the TTLB blogroll who identifies as a Republican who has asked/stated/argued EVERY question asked last night, whether it be Mars exploration (I think the hardest one to link to the GOP) to the Confederate Flag to gun rights to the immigration stances to the biblical literalism portrayed last night.

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway gets it mostly right when he notes that “who these people are doesn’t invalidate their questions,” but then goes on to state:

If one didn’t know better, one might suspect that CNN intentionally assembled a bunch of yahoos in the crowd to represent the Republican base and then fed the candidates gotcha questions from Democrats in order to make them look bad. That would be entertaining, I suppose, but horridly bad journalism. It’s perhaps more hopeful to think that they simply didn’t bother to vet the questioners. Of course, that’s not exactly good journalism, either.

What were the “gotcha” questions? Who were the yahoos? How do they differ from the stated positions of bloggers WELL within the mainstream of the Republican party? It wasn’t the biblical literalism question, because here is Red State:

Oh, and mock me if you will, but I do not question the account of Jonah and the Whale. You know, Mayor, Faith ain’t just a woman’s name.

The right-wing Bush fluffer-sphere is up in arms because the country got a good look at who the GOP really is last night. And when you look at what the GOP really is, and what they really believe in and what they really stand for, well, that just ain’t good for the Republicans.

*** Update ***

Good for Captain Ed:

Abject incompetence, yes. If these bloggers could discover this information — mostly from their YouTube profiles, not exactly heavy lifting — then CNN should have vetted the questioners better. With the possible exception of General Kerr, it doesn’t appear that the questioners made any attempt to hide their affiliation; they simply posted their questions, and CNN blithely selected them at face value.

Bad journalistic practices? Definitely yes. But does that negate the questions themselves? I don’t think so. The CNN/YouTube format closely parallels that of the traditional town-hall forum. For the most part, attendees do not get vetted at these events either, nor should they. After all, while a primary usually involves voters of one party, the entire nation has a stake in the selection of the nominees. If Hillary Clinton held a town hall in my community, I should have an opportunity to question her about her positions on issues without pledging a loyalty oath to do so.


CNN deserves the brickbats it will receive for its atrocious research skills. However, Republicans should be prepared to answer the questions the candidates received in this debate. At some point, this will cease being an intramural fight and we will have to convince all of America to vote for our nominee. That won’t happen if we can’t handle fastballs, with a couple of curveballs in the mix.

Other than the gratuitous CNN bashing, Ed is on to something. Although I am not sure why he thinks the questioners need to be vetted in the first place.

For Love or Money

Who knew gay people could generate so much revenue?

A booming wedding industry could swell Maryland’s budget by millions if gays were permitted to wed, according to a university report released yesterday.

The study, by UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, estimates that spending on gay nuptials could top $280 million the first three years, generating $14 million in tax revenue during that time.

It’s not that allowing two men to marry is the right thing to do. It’s not that it will make no difference to straight marriages. It’s not that Massachusetts hasn’t been turned into a giganamous pillar of salt. Marriage equality would help line the states’ pockets!

On the upside, it might get Republicans on board.

My Family Visited The Creation Museum And All I Got Was Stupider

John Scalzi took a field trip:

Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horsehit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap. This is a Herculean load of horseshit, friends, the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Augeas.

And you look at it and you say, “Wow, what a load of horseshit.”

Ah, if only the conservatives would build a museum to every one of their fringe ideas. Imagine the great writing that would come from visiting the Islamofascism Awareness Center. The Laffer Library. A Clinton Death List ride at Disney…with animatronic lesbians! Madame Tussaid’s Wax Corner. If Oral Roberts U can pull $70 mil out of thin air then the moneybags who aren’t giving much to Republicans this election cycle can make one of these great ideas a reality.