The GOP Are Liars or Psychopaths – You Make the Call

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In what seems like a millennium ago, the top contenders for the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in 2016 stood on a stage with one question asked of them. “Will you support the eventual nominee of the party (hell, this was Fox News so they didn’t have to designate), whomever it may be?” Of the ten people on the stage during that first debate, nine raised their hands in the affirmative; only one, Donald Drumpf, chose to not raise his hand. Now either those other people who once were running against Drumpf – and, by extension, the Republican Party as a whole – are either liars or psychopaths and it is up to us to make the call.

Since that first debate, Drumpf has employed a scorched earth policy where he seldom left any opponent unsinged and, in some cases, burned them to the ground. Let’s take a look, shall we? (These are all direct comments on each of his fellow candidates from Drumpf himself, in the order that they dropped out of the race)

Rick Perry – “an absolutely horrible job of securing the border” (never mind that it isn’t the job of a state’s governor to do that), “should be forced to take an IQ test” (pot, meet kettle), “needs a new pair of glasses” (this is a familiar theme – attack the way someone looks)

Scott Walker – “a puppet,” “massive deficit, bad jobs forecast, a mess” (using the entirety of the GOP playbook for running government, it must be noted), “your very dumb fundraiser hit me very hard – not smart!”

Bobby Jindal – “Spent $1000 to register in New Hampshire and dropped out the next day. Such a waste!”

Lindsey Graham – “dumb mouthpiece” who has “zero against me – no cred!” “embarrassed himself with his failed run for President” “So easy to beat!”

George Pataki – “Couldn’t be elected dog catcher if he ran again” (don’t worry, you’ll see this one again…), “terrible governor of NY, one of the worst”

Surprisingly, Mike Huckabee was left unscathed by Drumpf. Guess that means Drumpf never took him seriously as a candidate, which was true as he never got out of the “kiddie table” debates.

Rand Paul – “Why is Rand Paul allowed to take advantage of the people of Kentucky?” “truly weird,” “reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.”

Rick Santorum also dodged the Drumpf attention – unless Drumpf looked up “santorum” and was appalled to the point of silence.

Carly Fiorina – “If you listen to her for more than ten minutes straight, you develop a massive headache,” “has zero chance” and basically everything he noted in the Rolling Stone interview about her.

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Chris Christie – “spending all his time in New Hampshire” instead of trying to campaign across the spectrum of states early in the primaries. Then he climbed into the trunk to be “The Gimp” for Drumpf.

Jim Gilmore – nobody paid attention to him. In fact, if you look above, he wasn’t even in the picture when this whole clusterfuck started.

Jeb Bush – WAY too many to even mention, but let’s go with “low energy,” “the bottom of the barrel” and “a pathetic figure” as some of the kinder statements.

Ben Carson – “incapable of understanding foreign policy,” “very weak on immigration” and “many lies by Ben Carson” – and who can forget the pantomime by Drumpf of the teenage Ben Carson knifing a close friend and comparing his “pathological temper” to the “sickness of a child molester.”

Marco Rubio – Again, WAY too many to even mention, but the kinder statements are “little Marco,” “the lightweight from Florida” and “all talk and no action”

Sure, there’s that old adage of “sticks and stones” but, in the case of when you’re looking to draw support for something that you might need some friends to help with, this isn’t exactly the best way to go about seizing that support. About the only way that these people, for the most part, should be voting for Drumpf in any election is if they are either complete liars, psychopaths or masochists who don’t deserve consideration for any political office.

This isn’t even getting into the recent tete a tete between Drumpf and Senator Rafael Eduardo “Ted” Cruz, still battling for that brokered convention in Cleveland (which may soon become known as the “Second Mistake by the Lake”) come July, over their wives, which for those who thought the campaign couldn’t sink any lower suddenly found that it could.

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And here is where Drumpf has made his biggest mistake. In “counterpunching” when he views an attack (and in which another SANE person running for political office would have said “hey, that’s the way the game works”), he has successfully pissed off virtually anyone that would even be an assistance to his candidacy. In addition to this, while he’s been racking up state wins, Drumpf forgot about the bigger picture – keeping those people that you’ve beaten in your corner to help your drive further up the ladder.

Anyone can get the gullible base of the GOP – yes, the racists, the isolationists, the “keep your guv’ment hands off my Medicare” folks, the “God, guns and gravy” constituency – to come to your corner. Just tell them the (many) lies that you’re going to make things “like they used to be” – when the women knew their place, the blacks were off the streets by dark and the police let Bubba go home after he downed a 12-pack and run his car into the entrance of the local chapter of the NAACP. The bigger problem is in getting those that actually have a brain to follow your gruel and, beyond that, getting someone that isn’t a part of your circle to actually believe you have what it takes to lead.

And therein is where Drumpf has lost and will lose the election. While he may be winning the GOP nomination, he is winning it with 30-40% of the vote. As of 2014, approximately 39% of the voting populace in the U. S. identifies as Republican; that is approximately 98 million people in the country. Let’s give benefit of the doubt and give Drumpf 40% of that figure…that’s 39 million people who ALL have to vote come November.

Do you remember the results from 2012? In the 2012 elections, Barack Obama racked up almost 65 million votes while Mitt Romney earned almost 60 million. It was considered a “landslide” victory by Obama over Romney, who was well-liked by his fellow Republican candidates and the GOP as a whole.

Now add in that Drumpf isn’t leading in any demographic outside of Republicans – minorities, Hispanics, women, you name it, he’s failing miserably. If you can tell me where Drumpf can find enough StormTrumpers and Brownshirts to push over 66 million voters (not going to happen), then you need to spend more time picking lottery numbers than presidential hopefuls.

But I digress…any party or person who would, after being subjugated by the slimiest verbosity from the pompous Orangutan Mutant, who has any respect for themselves, their party and maybe even their country, and then still says, “I’m voting for him,” is…well, I think the point has been made.

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The Odious Remains of The GOP Presidential Carcass

When they reached their apex a few months ago, there were 17 different people that wanted the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States in 2016. This simply means that there were 17 warm bodies – although degree of warmth was questionable – because ideologically there wasn’t much difference. Even with former “Libertarian” Rand Paul, who danced closer to the far right wing of the Republican Party with the hope to do something his daddy Ron never could do – win the GOP nomination – they were all basically cut from the same cloth even if their gender was different.

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Everyone knew that it was unmanageable. Thus, the bodies began to pile up on the side of the road like an episode of The Walking Dead after Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors had battled through Atlanta. Before a single vote was even cast in the primaries, such party “luminaries” as former Texas Governor Rick Perry, current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal ended their campaigns that were still virtually in their infancy (seriously, Walker’s candidacy was all of two months’ old). While the political zombies feasted on their decomposing flesh, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former New York Governor George Pataki were both offed before a vote was cast.

What all these men had in common was they were the true epitome of “zombie” campaigns. For all practical purposes, they were only existing in name only as they drew little support from the voters and the “big money” donors didn’t exactly give them the time of day either. After the voting started, the candidates that decided to leave were among the living but became “zombies” soon after they drew no reaction from the populace.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum all had the good sense to get out after Iowans basically ignored them and they were joined by (we’re not sure what she does) Carly Fiorina, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (who received all of 12 VOTES – that’s people, folks, not delegates – in Iowa) a week later after the cold shoulder in New Hampshire’s primary. But the big stunner came this last weekend after the South Carolina primary concluded.

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Long ago thought to be the lockdown “shoo-in” to be the nominee for the GOP in 2016, former Florida Governor Jeb! Bush instead proved to be the perfect illustration of how not to run a campaign. After being out of the bruising world of politics for over a decade (he last ran for office in 2003 for a second term as Governor of Florida), Bush was ill-prepared for the partisan world that politics has become today. To be honest, from the start he never looked as if he wanted to be President; he never actually took the gloves off and had to fight for a political position (hell, his last name is Bush and he probably has ridden that his entire political life). When he gave his withdrawal speech on Saturday night after drawing a dismal 8% of the vote in a state his family once dominated, he looked a beaten man, one that wanted to head back to the safety of a Board of Directors rather than the Oval Office.

You would think with the zombies chowing on the flesh on the sidelines (and, if you think about it, wouldn’t the world of The Walking Dead just be the most foul-smelling existence to be a part of?) that the odiferous scent would be left behind the five candidates that still stood and moved on. Instead, the odious remains of the GOP Presidential Carcass are at the same times worse smelling than the dozen people that are now but a memory. Yet one of these people, no matter how distasteful they may be, will emerge as the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

Let’s start with the next one that will be run down by the zombie hordes, Dr. Ben Carson. Carson is right now being kept in the race by those who want to keep Ted Cruz (we’ll get to him, have some patience) down. In essence, Carson carves away some evangelical votes that Cruz would normally get, something that happens when a man has a painting of himself with JESUS FREAKIN’ CHRIST in his home. Then again, Carson loses some of that evangelical vote if they’re Muslim because he believes that Islam “as a religion, is incompatible with the Constitution” and therefore anyone who is Muslim he would not “advocate for being in charge of the nation” (Carson would backtrack that statement faster than an NFL cornerback defending a Peyton Manning pass route).

But that isn’t even the most idiotic (and therefore odious) statement Carson’s ever made. In a speech several years ago, the good Doctor opined that the pyramids on the Plains of Giza in Egypt were there for the Bible’s Joseph “to store grain” instead of tombs for the pharaohs. Carson also suggested a theory about the spread of Ebola by constructing a massive conspiracy that someone could use urine as a biological weapon. Finally, there was his most recent Tweet that the biggest threat facing the United States at this time was immigration…hello, Doctor? Have you been watching the debates going on around you at all…you know, the one’s you’ve been standing there as a part of for the past few months? There’s a whole list of issues that you might have come up with other than one that has been trod so many times there’s literally wear marks on it. It appears that Dr. Carson may just be a brilliant neurosurgeon and a complete imbecile in other areas.

Then we have what many are calling the “last moderate Republican” left in the field, current Ohio Governor John Kasich. Throughout the GOP debates, Kasich has labeled himself as the choice for those who are looking for someone who will “work across the aisle,” a moderate who will listen and work with Democrats in Washington, D. C., simply because he has in the past. Kasich is quick to point out that, while in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001, he helped pass balanced budgets as first the ranking member of and then the Chairman of the House Budget Committee. Kasich notes that this was the last time that the budget was balanced on the federal level, something that is shockingly true in this campaign of lies.

Hiding behind this “moderate” demeanor, however, is a right-winger of the nth degree. His House voting record and that of his Ohio governorship (not to mention hosting a Fox News program between 2001 and 2007) demonstrates that Kasich is far from being a moderate Republican. This week, Kasich signed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood…not directly but “any organization that performs or promotes abortions.” That would prevent $1.3 million of Ohio funds from going to the organization, which would use those funds for HIV testing, health screening and domestic violence prevention (and for those of you assholes who say they can get that at the emergency room, why isn’t your ass there for your meds?). Furthermore, instead of prison reform, Kasich believes that there should be more “for-profit” prisons, just so we can see judges crookedly rig the system against the weakest members of society to turn a fucking buck for the state and the owners of the prisons. Finally, Ohio is one of the states with some of the most outlandish incidences of police abusing their authority in the nation – yet Kasich has done nothing about such occurrences.

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Next we have Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and it really doesn’t matter which one you call what because they are virtually the same cartoon character. The twosome both currently reside in the Senate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted “Rafael” (yes, his real name) Cruz, and their paths to where they are now being virtually identical. Both were elected to the Senate with their eyes firmly affixed towards the Presidency rather than doing anything for their constituents; both are uncompromising bastards who would rather die on a mountaintop than intelligently discuss any logical solution to a problem (Cruz more so than Rubio) and both are religious ideologues that, if a Muslim…hell, if a Catholic… said half the shit they said (Cruz said “Glory be to God” upon winning Iowa; Rubio said he would base his decisions “on his faith first” and fuck the facts), they would be screaming religious zealotry. But there’s something far worse in their cabinets than this.

Both of these men are first generation Cuban-Americans (Donald Trump – yes, we’re getting to him – would say Cruz is something else), the proud offspring of their parents who came to the United States to give them a better life than the one they had under a Fidel Castro-led Cuba. Two men who have benefitted quite well from the system of life in these United States, worked hard and garnered an education…who, now that they have received every benefit of said system, are trying their damndest to make sure that someone else doesn’t repeat that performance, that there isn’t another occurrence where someone under similar circumstances to theirs would EVER see the chance to be…them.

This would be the utmost in hypocrisy, innuendo and outright falsification if it weren’t for the leader of the remaining clowns in the GOP car, billionaire Donald Trump. There is literally no way to begin to list the litany of falsehoods, bullshit, antagonistic jabs, attacks (both verbal and physical) and statements that he has offended virtually every person in the United States with, so let’s just start with his latest efforts. First there was Trump’s assertion – and his demon spawn Eric’s backup – that waterboarding was nothing that didn’t happen at a “college frat party” (note you don’t see either of these fucking bastards strapped to a board for a few hours of fun, do you?).

Then Trump tried to recount the discredited story of the famous General John Pershing during a campaign stop in South Carolina. According to the Orangutan Mutant, General Pershing supposedly executed 49 Muslims (it isn’t stated during which U. S. military action this occurred) with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, an obvious jab at the Islamic faith’s beliefs about pigs. All the stupid ass Trump managed to do was once again offend more than a billion people and an entire faith, which in this world today might be necessary to work with somewhere down the road.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this misogynous, xenophobic, race-baiting knuckle-dragger wasn’t leading the GOP Presidential race. But, then again…let’s look at the GOP that supports him.

In South Carolina, where he won a resounding victory, of those who support Trump:

70% believe the Confederate Flag should still fly over the South Carolina state capitol
38% wish the South had won the Civil War
80% support banning Muslims (ALL Muslims) from entering the United States
62% support a national database for Muslims in the U. S.
33% believe that Islam should be ILLEGAL in the U. S.
31% support banning LGBT people from entering the U. S.

I’m convinced that the GOP bottom-dwellers – who now seem to have taken over from those that have any semblance of sanity – have about as much couth as a gutter snipe and seemingly share part ownership of the same reptilian brain. Trump for months now has gotten away with every faux pas (once again, too numerous to mention) that, in the past, would not only have ended other people’s campaigns but any career in any legitimate pursuit they previously held. Are these people voting for Trump this stupid? (I’ll answer: yes.) Are these people this delusional (Once again: yes.). Are they this out-and-out racist? (I’ll say it…yes.)

The GOP could and should have stopped this when he opened his mouth with his announcement he was running. As soon as he ripped into Mexicans, the GOP could have said, “Thanks, but no thanks, you’re not running as a member of our party,” but the GOP realized that there’s about 40% of their party that are this ass-backward as those statistics above present and that they would agree with the spittle that Trump spews. It is truly a sad moment for a once proud party.

There are those that say they like Trump’s “honesty” and his non-PC approach to things. If these “supporters” were all fired up for honesty, then they wouldn’t be looking at Trump, who has to have a scorecard to keep track of the lies that he’s told. As to not being PC? I challenge Trump to take a stroll by himself – no bodyguards, no weapons – down some streets in this country and make the same statements he has used during this campaign…he’d be picking up his teeth from the street if he did, at the minimum.

So among five men cut from the same cloth as the twelve people who came before them, not a one is worth a damn. All they look to do is deny or take from the citizens of the United States (quick, name one thing they’re looking to do FOR the U. S. citizen? Can’t do it, can you, and don’t give me the bullshit about “making America great again,” “lowering the national debt” or “improving our military and their morale” because we know you shoveling horseshit). The odious remains of the GOP have the stench of the zombies that perished in the past on them, they just haven’t had the decency to go ahead and die just yet.

What The Hell Happened in Iowa On Monday?

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After more than a year of pandering to Hawkeye voters – quite honestly a state that in no way represents what the United States of America looks like but gets to set the tone for what a political campaign is supposed to look like – the Iowa Caucuses took place on a cold, wintry Monday night. Both the Republicans and the Democrats met in schools, town halls, churches and homes across the Iowa plains to decide how to divvy up the delegates for their respective parties at their National Conventions come this summer. Everyone thought that, for all practical purposes, that it was going to be triumphant marches to victory by both billionaire idiot Donald Trump and millionaire double-talker Hillary Clinton – so what the hell happened in Iowa on Monday night?

For the Republican Party, it always was going to be a bit of a clusterfuck. After starting the process with 17 candidates – and going to the Caucus with 12 candidates still officially running – the process was going to spread the votes across a wide swath of the candidacy. Even Jim Gilmore, who has only participated in one of the GOP debates (the sixth one right before the Caucus), received 12 votes from Iowa’s Republicans…not 12%…12 VOTES. Thus, whoever came out on top was going to have had to made an impression on the Iowa Republican constituency.

Even though he claims differently now (more on this in a minute), Trump was at the forefront of the Iowa race pretty much from the time he announced his candidacy in June 2015. According to some polls, he had built a double-digit lead over fellow candidates as varied as Dr. Ben Carson, Jeb! Bush, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as the Republican Caucus approached. In fact, Trump was so confident of his place in Iowa, he chose to poke Fox News in the eye at the final GOP debate before the Iowa Republican Caucus and not show up, instead running his own “veterans’ fundraiser” (by the way, jackass…as a veteran I ask where and when is that money going to be dispersed?) to “compete” with the debate.

That move might have been something that tipped the scales. Iowa voters don’t like to be neglected by the candidates and both Cruz, who made a great deal of noise about going “full Grassley” (hitting every county in Iowa with a campaign stop, something that Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says is critical to winning the Caucus, hence its name), and Rubio, who had an outstanding performance in that final debate, surged at the end by making the Iowa voter feel as if they were important. The result? Cruz defeated Trump by a rather comfortable margin and Rubio almost clipped Trump for second place, which would have been an even more devastating blow to Trump’s campaign and ego.

Trump, defeated for the first time in the 2016 campaign, played it off as if the resounding setback didn’t affect him. He said he was “honored” to have finished second, mentioning that he “had been told to ignore Iowa, that he didn’t have a chance” and that he was “way behind from the start,” a lie if there ever was one. But there was a menace behind his words and his body language spoke volumes, almost like he was telling wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and bland sons to “get to the plane so we can get the fuck out of this hellhole.”

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Meanwhile, Rubio and Cruz were positively giddy over their performances. Predicted to not even garner 10% of the Caucus vote, Rubio more than doubled that in earning the support of 23% of Caucus-goers and nearly upended Trump. Cruz was also proud to see that his “ground and pound” game had supplanted Trump’s “dazzle them with bullshit” approach and he didn’t miss the chance to point this out to “The Donald.”

That seems to be the biggest thing that Iowa voters looked at. After several months of listening to the candidates, it didn’t seem that they bought the Trump bullshit in the very end. Perhaps it was that misstep at Liberty University when he called it “Two Corinthians” rather than “Second Corinthians” (even as a heathen I know what it is called); maybe it was the inability for Trump to have admitted a time when he prostrated himself in front of God; perhaps it was his inability to come up – or even enunciate – what was his favorite Bible verse. While these things might not be important to some, it is important to Iowa and its evangelical voters.

That is an important factor to the voters in Iowa. From the conservative, religious values voters after eliminating Trump, it was a simple step to which candidate did people want to follow, someone viewed as an “establishment” figure or someone who would “shake up” Washington, D. C.? Cruz has prided himself as someone who doesn’t follow the “establishment,” while Rubio has picked up that mantle (after the failure of Jeb! Bush throughout the early campaigning). That they were separated by only a few thousand votes indicates how close that fight may yet turn out.

On the Democratic side, you couldn’t ask for a better fight. Whereas former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thought that she would have a cakewalk over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (and let’s pause here to “pour a 40” for the campaign of former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, which never had a snowball’s chance in Hell; he suspended his campaign after the votes were in on the Iowa Democratic Caucus), it has been Sanders’ virility on the campaign trail that seems to have shocked Clinton. Sanders barnstormed Iowa, making it a fight, where Clinton thought she could throw a couple of token appearances and walk away with an easy victory.

Sanders’ message has found an excited audience, but just who is it? It would be easy to say that it is the young people, college students and the “hipsters” under-30, but that doesn’t explain the 50/50 split that came between Sanders and Clinton on Monday night in the Iowa Caucus. Sanders had to convince some of the adults in the room that his ideas and plans for the future of the United States were viable and that he is a viable choice for the Democratic Party. It may not be what Sanders is doing that is drawing in the crowd.

I’ve said it before…despite being arguably the most qualified candidate in the field (hey Republicans…if you had a candidate that was a former Secretary of State, a former Senator, had a position with a former President of the United States that helped to set national policy during one of the most prosperous periods in U. S. history and also worked with that person as a former Governor, you’d be championing that candidate like they were the Second Coming), Clinton is carrying more baggage than the Titanic and she is trying to navigate through a glacier field that would sink a weaker politician. Although there isn’t an indictment against her for the myriad of alleged transgressions she has made (and I’m not even going to count the e-mail situation, but that is a story for another time), there are those not only with the opposition party but also in the Democratic Party that will not support Clinton. Thus, they are throwing their support behind Sanders, which might explain the 50/50 split in Iowa on Monday night.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Democratic Party of Iowa has still not declared a winner between Clinton and Sanders. In reality, though, Sanders is the big winner while Clinton walks away with a slight victory. Sanders is showing that he can actually bring in voters to his supposedly “socialist” way of thinking – that people are ready for the progressive mindset that he espouses – while Clinton can say she held her ground and took a victory that eluded her in 2008, when she was upended by an upstart named Barack Obama.

So, when will President Cruz or President Sanders take office? Not so fast, bucko. The Iowa Caucus didn’t do a damn thing, in reality. Because the Iowa Caucus hands its delegates out by percentages (what is called a proportional allocation) and not a “winner take all” (as the March “SEC primaries” will be), this is the way that the Republican Party breaks down:

Ted Cruz                     8 delegates
Donald Trump            7 delegates
Marco Rubio               7 delegates
Ben Carson                 3 delegates
Rand Paul                   1 delegate
Jeb Bush                      1 delegate

(no other candidates received a delegate)

And for the Democrats:

Hillary Clinton            26 delegates
Bernie Sanders            21 delegates

(and don’t ask me how they can be 50/50 and Clinton get more delegates…must be that superdelegate thing)

As you can see, nothing has been decided.

The carnival now moves onto New Hampshire, where the barkers are already hawking their wares to the voters of The Granite State. Trump, licking his wounds after the Iowa disappointment, also is projected with a double-digit lead there, but it is supposedly thought a sizeable voting bloc that isn’t fascinated with the Circus of Trump is waiting in the wings to take him down. The reality is, however, that Trump has paid little attention to New Hampshire and has little “ground forces” there…just like what he did in Iowa that eventually doomed his candidacy. Rubio and Cruz, energized by their performances, and other candidates, such as Chris Christie, John Kasich (with the endorsement of the New York Times in his pocket) and Bush, seem to think that they can take Trump down a few more notches in New Hampshire.

For the Democrats, Clinton seems to have ceded New Hampshire to Sanders, in his Northeast backyard, and while she will contest it a bit seems to be pushing onwards to South Carolina and the March “SEC primaries” in the South, a traditional stronghold of the Clintons. She also has come to the realization that, unless she can put together a crushing set of wins in a row, she is facing a similar “delegate fight” to that which is going on in the Republican Party.

It’s just the beginning, political junkies, and it isn’t showing any signs that it will come to a close soon. Short of a seismic shift – something along the lines of Trump saying “fuck this, I’m out” (something that could conceivably happen…or his move to an Independent campaign), an indictment on Clinton, the Hellmouth opening up and sucking both parties into the Abyss – it’s going to be a battle all the way to Cleveland (Republican) and Philadelphia (Democratic)…and the fight may still rage on at the convention floor once they reach those cities.

Welcome Back, My Friends: What to Expect from Tuesday’s GOP Debate

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Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends!
We’re so glad you could attend,
Come inside! Come inside!

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “Karn Evil 9

If it seems like we are in a Bill Murray-esque “Groundhog Day” scenario, it is about to come to a close. On Tuesday night, 13 of the 14 remaining candidates from the Republican Party will meet at the Venetian in Las Vegas, representing the final time in 2015 that the GOP will parade their talent across the stage for the U. S. voter. It is expected that, by the time of the next debate two days after the State of the Union address in January, this field will be whittled down again (since the start of the campaign, three candidates – former Texas Governor Rick Perry, current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – have already tossed in the towel…and thus completes our moment of silence for them).

It is appropriate that Las Vegas is the host of the final GOP debate for 2015 because, for many of the candidates, it is a full-out gamble that they’re taking by staying in the race. The four men who will make up the undercard (or “kiddie table”) debate – current South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York Governor George Pataki, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – were unable to make the criteria for the main CNN debate (to be eligible, a candidate had to poll at least at 3.5% nationally or at 4% in either Iowa or New Hampshire) and probably should have left this contest months ago (another candidate, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, was left off this stage because he doesn’t poll at all in the GOP race, he just hasn’t gotten around to ending his campaign). They do little for the process other than to confuse voters, offer nothing as to “fresh” ideas and simply aren’t viable (on the Democrats side, Martin O’Malley serves this purpose all by himself). There would have to be a tremendous “change of fortune” if any of these longest of “long shots” were to pay off with a residency in the White House.

The nine person GOP All-Star team that will be in the “Main Event” – billionaire businessman  Donald Trump, brain surgeon Ben Carson, current Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio’s Governor John Kasich and current Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – could have probably been cut as well, but we don’t want to have three debates that would provide emergency rooms with more alcohol poisonings than they could handle. With just the top four alone – Trump, Carson, Cruz and Rubio – nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of the GOP has decided who they will back. The other five candidates divvy up 15% of the vote, not enough for any of them to mount a serious charge at the top and probably not enough to swing the top four in any particular direction (the rest are basically undecided, either supporting one of the bottom four or have truly not made a choice). As such, this debate (and maybe they’ll do it by the January debate, but I’m not holding my breath) might be the last time we’ll see this many GOP hopefuls on the center stage.

The run-up to this debate has been intriguing if not necessarily pretty. Paul was a last-minute addition (due to a late Sunday Fox News poll that showed him doing well in Iowa) to get him to the main stage. There was talk that he would be shuttled to the undercard debate, which brought the threat from Paul of either a lawsuit or a resignation from the campaign. Trump has been wavering atop the ladder, with a surprising Cruz passing him in some polling while Trump has extended his lead in others. Finally, there has been the grandstanding that many in the GOP have done as a result of situations in the world and in the United States over the past few weeks.

This debate is being billed by CNN – who will put commentator Wolf Blitzer in as the moderator, with assistance from CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and Salem Radio (co-host of the debate) talk show host Hugh Hewitt – as a comprehensive look at the threat of terrorism and foreign policy. With the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino over the past few weeks, the actions of ISIS and terrorism in general has come to the forefront as an important issue. This doesn’t bode well for a few of the candidates – Carson, Fiorina, Kasich and Paul in particular – because it isn’t their forte. Some of the other candidates on the stage – Cruz, Rubio, Bush and Christie – have been very consistent with their proposals to counter terrorists’ threats. It is Trump who is the wild card simply because he presents “solutions” that will not even be seriously considered (registering a religion for government surveillance or forcing them into “training camps”, bombing the “shit” out of ISIS regardless of where they are, etc.); the real question is when will Trump grow up and figure out simple civics and government protocol and offer viable ideas.

The tone of the debate on Tuesday night is going to be two-sided. For those at the bottom of the totem pole – Paul, Kasich, Christie (making his return to the main stage after being “sent to the minors” for the last debate) and Fiorina – they are going to have to put out a big bet (in keeping with our Las Vegas theme here) and hope that it hits in their favor. This could be some sort of proposal to combat terrorism, an attack on another candidate showing how their position is wrong, or a particular stance that makes them potentially look like “the adult” in the room rather than a pandering child. Expect the “slings and arrows” for this debate to come out of this bunch because, let’s be honest, they haven’t got anything else to fall back on if they are to be viable in the campaign.

The top five in the GOP – Trump, Cruz, Carson, Rubio and Bush (and he barely gets into this class) – will probably be on their best behavior, especially Trump. After months of acting like your crazy, drunken uncle at the Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering, Trump is now being tracked down by the one candidate who is actively looking to pull away his supporters, Cruz. He has to try to look somewhat “sane” as he tries to parlay the attack of Cruz (who was called by none other than Arizona Senator John McCain a “wacko bird”). Cruz, who has basically burned every bridge he might have been able to use in the GOP to push his candidacy forward, HAD been the “lunatic fringe” of the GOP before Trump came along and now is potentially viewed by some as more “Presidential” than before. Instead of staying this course, Trump is strangely resorting to trying to portray himself as having a better “temperament” for the Presidency (as the rest of the political world does massive spit-takes); whether that strategy pays off has yet to be seen.

These five guys will, for the most part, spar lightly with each other but mostly will look out for the heavy ammunition from the back of the pack. Despite his bombast, Trump isn’t well-versed in foreign policy matters, so he’ll probably sit back and look for someone else to make a mistake (instead of the one Trump did in the last debate when Paul pointed out China – one of Trump’s favorite targets for beating – wasn’t a part of the Asian trade pact recently negotiated). This plan doesn’t bode well for him, however, as it could result in a drop in the polls if he doesn’t display “strength.”

I expect good showings from both Cruz and Rubio on this issue. The two are well-versed from their Senatorial work in potential foreign policy options and could present a viable course of action. Bush might surprise here, if he can separate himself from the Albatross that were his brother’s actions in the Middle East, while Carson suffers from a worse case of the same condition that afflicts Trump – no knowledge of foreign policy (although this would be a good time to demonstrate that he’s been listening to his advisors and show some deep thought on the subject).

What has held true for all the previous debates – and will continue to hold true for this one – is that it won’t have much effect on the current campaign at all and I don’t say that cynically. Trump has been the leader since he stepped into the race this summer and, despite every verbal bombast, insult and slur that he’s thrown, he’s either maintained the lead or expanded it. It isn’t going to be until that late-January debate that there might be a change in the numbers on the board, more so true if there are some candidates who come to their senses and realize they have no shot at the big prize and withdraw from the race. While Las Vegas may be the city where “dreams come true,” it more often than not crushes those dreams into dust; it will be that way for some of these GOP candidates as we head towards the end of 2015.

What to Expect From the Second GOP Debate

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After what turned out to be a relatively calm first debate last month, the Republican Party will gather their candidates for President of the United States together again tonight for a debate. The second GOP debate will begin at 6PM on CNN with the undercard – the four competitors, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal; former New York Governor George Pataki and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (two of their brethren, former Texas Governor Rick Perry (has ended his campaign) and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (nonexistent in the polls) have already been excluded from the debate) who couldn’t build up enough support to crack low single digits – will be featured in this showdown at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. While some points may be scored here, the attention of the 500 or so people who will be in attendance will more than likely be on the “Main Event” that begins at 8PM (Eastern Time).

The main field is now expanded to 11 participants, with former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina the only candidate who came out of the “Happy Hour” debate in Cleveland improving on her support and earning her way onto the main stage. Even with the addition of Fiorina, the leader has stayed constant:  Donald Trump, despite pissing off and insulting pretty much the entirety of the human race with a brain, continues to lead the Republican parade. What has made it interesting is that the second place candidate has changed and it isn’t one of the “usual suspects.”

Coming off a notable debate performance in Cleveland, Dr. Ben Carson has been able to pull his way up to second in some polls and at least in the Top Five in others. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will be beside Trump also, putting two “low energy” opponents (Trump’s words, not mine) on each of the New York billionaire’s hands. The difference this time around is that both of those hands are in danger of being gnawed off.

Unlike the first debate, this one is going to be a free-for-all. In the first debate, the novelty of a Trump campaign hadn’t worn off yet for the other nine competitors as they, for the most part (save for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul), stayed away from Trump, expecting to see him crash and burn on his own. Not to say that Trump didn’t try, making a point as the only candidate at that time who would not pledge support of the eventual GOP nominee and/or swear off a third-party run (he has since signed a “loyalty pledge” which will be about as binding as the toilet paper in Trump Tower) before then insulting Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly during and after the event. Another month into the campaign – and with polling and favorability numbers for Trump that are going up instead of down – and the rest of the GOP has finally come to the realization that they have to take him out.

Jindal has basically said that Trump is a “madman” who will do irreparable damage to the conservative cause and perhaps even end the Republican Party. “It’s pointless arguing policy with someone not intellectually curious enough to care and who makes it up on the fly,” Jindal wrote in an op/ed on CNN. “According to him, his plans will be ‘fabulous’ and ‘something terrific.’” With his own polling numbers around 1%, Jindal has seemingly taken on the sword of taking Trump down (and he may have some backup in Graham). The problem is these men are on the “kiddie table” while Trump plays on the Grand Stage; the only way that anyone from the early debate will be able to touch Trump is with a trebuchet.

So who will it be on the stage in front of President Reagan’s Air Force One (if you haven’t already seen the stage for the CNN debate, it is a feat of engineering that has the 747 right behind the candidates – a feat that required set designers to build a 30 foot scaffolding for the stage itself) that tries to take down Trump? How about everyone?

The moderators for the debate, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, have already said they want the debate to take on more of a donnybrook look than a genteel tea party. “My goal is more about: Let’s draw the contrasts between the candidates, and have them fight it out over these policies, over who has the best approach to Putin, over who has the best approach to taxes, over who believes what over immigration reform,” Tapper stated to the New York Times on Tuesday. “Have them lay it all out so voters can see it.”

Paul has already stated he will come at Trump with every weapon he has available, telling CNN that Trump is a “fake conservative” who won’t be able to handle the job of the Presidency. “Do we really want someone in charge of our nuclear arsenal who goes around basically using the insults of a junior high, or a sophomore in high school?” said Paul during a CNN interview. “That’s not the kind of person we want to be practicing the diplomacy of the United States.”

What about the other candidates? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich have been non-committal on what their approach to Trump will be, but if any of them are to last much longer than Iowa and New Hampshire, their time is now to make a move and attack the frontrunner(s). Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose lips have been locked on Trump’s ass for so long it may take Ben Carson’s surgical talents to remove him, won’t be looking to harass Trump as he hopes to take his supporters if, and or when Trump decides he’s had enough of the campaign. For their part, Bush and Carson have also said they aren’t looking to attack “anyone” in particular, but you can be sure that if the opportunity arises they’ll be looking to cut their own pound of flesh out of Trump.

As it has been since he entered the race, it could be Trump who is the key as to what this debate may turn out to be, a bloodbath or a policy discussion. If the Trump that comes out on stage on Wednesday night is the same boorish, misogynistic, xenophobic, arrogant ass that has been running around the United States for the last two months, then the other 10 competitors on the stage are going to carve him up. Yes, Trump is an excellent counter-puncher, but there isn’t a counterpunch to a death by 1000 cuts. If you’re constantly on the defensive – and if you even show a glimpse that you’re thin-skinned, you’re over with – you’re not going to be taken seriously.

On the other hand, if Trump comes out and talks halfway intelligently about issues – discusses SERIOUSLY where the money will come from to build the wall across the border between Mexico and the U. S. and not the half-cocked plan of having Mexico pay for it; offers a plan for the humane treatment of immigrants here illegally to return them to their home countries (or offer them a form of amnesty, an anathematic word to conservatives); give a few details as to his taxation plans (once again, Trump sees nothing wrong with the wealthy and businesses paying “their fair share,” another policy point that whips the GOP into a horrified frenzy) – then his opponents will have no opportunity to go at him except on a policy level. Instead of attacking his general personality, now the other GOP candidates would have to pick apart details of his suggested plans and probably have to stake themselves to something they might not want to do with their own plans at this point. Trump has to be careful here because as soon as he strays from policy into any sort of “insult campaigning” (which has been his creation for political scientists to dissect in the future), the floodgates open and the attacks will fly.

So what is going to happen in the sacred grounds of the Reagan Library? It’s going to be a bloodbath. Simply because he is either too proud or has too big an ego, Trump isn’t going to be able to hold back his personal attacks on his opponents and, as such, the other 10 players in the game are going to descend on him like a pack of hyenas. The hyenas may not kill the wildebeest quickly on Wednesday night, but it will mark the beginning of the end as they will, while getting their fangs and claws bloodied, rip apart any thought that Trump could actually have a solid plan to lead the nation. (I wonder what the odds are of an expletive making it out over the CNN airwaves is.)

It’ll all go down later tonight and will probably be more entertaining that boxing champion Floyd Mayweather’s fight was last weekend. The two debates – the “kiddie table” at 6PM and the “Main Event” at 8PM – promise to be high theater for all involved. Unfortunately, it will also show the worst of what is the U. S. political process in a mudslinging debacle instead of a discussion of ideas and opinions.