Want to open your house for a Democratic Debate/Forum Watch Party for Tenth Dems (we can limit attendees to what you are comfortable with having in your home – ideally like 30)? on either Friday Nov. 6th – 7 pm Rachel Maddow forum OR Saturday evening Nov. 14th – 8 pm on CBS. We can help you plan it. Please let Lauren Beth Gash know asap by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or call (847) 702-6635.
By Barbara Altman
In the September edition of Tenth News, I cautioned that the Republican Presidential debates serve as a vehicle for disseminating GOP propaganda and warned against accepting at face value any statistic quoted by a candidate. Now that I have watched all three hours of the second debate, broadcast on CNN on September 16, I must admit that I seriously underestimated the Republican candidates’ capacity for dissembling.
Let’s start with Carly Fiorina, poised to be the next runner-up, if not front-runner among the now 16 Republican presidential hopefuls. Fiorina markets herself as a self-made woman and successful CEO. We’ve all heard about how she was fired by Hewlett-Packard after running the business into the ground. So much for the successful CEO.
What was new for me was Fiorina’s personal story. During the debate she described herself as someone who rose from secretary to CEO. The truth? The only time Carly Fiorina ever worked as a secretary was when she was a college student. It was a summer job. She comes from a privileged and well-connected background—her father was Dean of Duke University School of Law and later a Deputy Attorney General and then a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Carly graduated from Stanford, attended law school for a semester, and after earning an MBA was hired by AT&T as a management-trainee. So much for the Horatio Alger story.
Of course, Fiorina’s most egregious misrepresentation of the evening, and the one addressed over the ensuing 72 hours by the news media, was her passionate, vivid description of a video she said exposed the harvesting for sale of fetal body parts. The problem? There is absolutely no connection between Planned Parenthood and the purported contents of the phantom video Fiorina evoked, even though the question she was responding to related to the Republicans’ desire to defund Planned Parenthood. And although she strongly implied otherwise, Fiorina never saw the video she described.
Fiorina was not alone. Jeb Bush defended his brother’s administration by claiming that, unlike President Obama, his brother, President George W. Bush, “kept us safe.” Never mind that the September 11 attacks occurred on Bush’s watch and there has been no foreign attack on U.S. soil under Obama. The Republican dogma is that Bush was not accountable for the September 11 attacks but deserves credit for their non-recurrence during his ensuing seven years in office.
Bush also repeated the Republican economic fantasy that by cutting taxes he will raise the middle class and working people’s standard of living. Never mind that following tax increases under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton the middle class thrived. And it is now undeniable that the Bush 43 tax cuts mostly benefitted the wealthiest Americans and are a major cause of the radically increased gap between the rich and the middle class and working people that even Republicans admit is a major issue for our nation. Of course, not one of the Republican debaters acknowledged the Bush recession—much less the Obama recovery, which they outright deny, contrary to fact.
Then there were the candidates’ takes on science. Donald Trump told a story meant to perpetuate the myth that pediatric vaccination can cause autism. Shockingly, although the two physicians on the stage acknowledged that the study that purported to associate vaccinations with autism had been soundly discredited, both Ben Carson and fellow physician-politician Rand Paul criticized as government overreaching public health policies that mandate childhood vaccinations.
In a similar vein, Marco Rubio grudgingly acknowledged climate change by alluding to “some changes in the weather” (which reveals a dangerous ignorance of the difference between weather—a day-to-day local phenomenon—and climate, which takes the long, global view; see Tenth News, October 2015, “Climate and Weather—Not the Same Thing,” at p. 7). Having trivialized the issue, Rubio then made the factually bankrupt statement that any government policies to address climate change should be rejected because they would destroy the economy. And U.S. policies wouldn’t make a difference anyway, he reasoned, because China is a worse polluter than the U.S. So much for environmental policy.
For his part, Ted Cruz repeated the false GOP charge that the multinational agreement forged with Iran to curb its development of nuclear weapons depends on Iran’s inspecting its own facilities, or “self-inspections.” You can support or oppose the agreement for any number of reasons, but the fact is that the inspection regime it creates involves 24/7 surveillance of known nuclear sites and permanent onsite presence of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
So I repeat. If you find them entertaining, watch the next Republican presidential debates. But don’t expect to learn anything—except, perhaps, the capacity of politicians willfully to distort facts and even to out-and-out lie.
Blog, Featured: Bob Dold Votes With Fellow Republicans-No Democrats Join Them-In Harmful Political Ploy
Highland Park, IL — Republican operative-turned-politician Congressman Bob Dold is at it again, indulging in his radical party’s irresponsible political tactics at the expense of the people of Illinois’ 10th District. His trick—voting to hold the debt ceiling hostage like Republicans have done twice since Dold and his Tea Party colleagues were sworn into the House in 2011—is no treat, unless threatening to cause a national default that could destroy the global economy sounds appealing.
Even worse, supporters of the disastrous H.R. 692—only Republicans—know President Obama will not sign it. Republicans admit that it’s just for political cover in case their Caucus inexplicably refuses to raise the debt ceiling. They want a talking point about a problem they created (Slate, 10/21/15). Still, either Dold’s Republican Party doesn’t know or doesn’t care that its dubious plan to prioritize who would get hurt first in the event of a default is unfeasible. And according to the Treasury Department, the bill simply leads to “default by another name” (The New York Times, 10/20/15).
Of course, Bob Dold has remained silent about his role in this debacle. Why no press release? Why no tweets about it, Congressman? It’s no surprise since at almost every turn, Dold avoids telling voters he’s a Republican in an effort to suggest that there’s no substantive difference between him and a Democratic alternative. Naturally, Dold doesn’t want the people in the 10th District to know that he voted for a frightening bill that no Democrats supported.
Previous debt ceiling crises manufactured by Republicans caused real economic harm, including to retirement accounts (The New York Times, 10/20/15). This is an unacceptable way to run Congress, and it will haunt Republican Bob Dold in 2016.
Blog, Featured: American Democracy Legal Fund Files Ethics Complaint Against Bob Dold and 22 Other Republicans
The American Democracy Legal Fund has filed an ethics complaint against Bob Dold and 22 other Republicans for agreeing to provide details of their legislative strategies in exchange for “special attention” and “campaign cash” from the National Republican Campaign Committee.
The formal ethics complaint spells out how the “vulnerable Republican House Members are literally selling their legislative agendas to a political committee for campaign cash,” and states the intent of the contract is to “use the official resources available to [these Members] to coordinate…their legislative strategies…with the NRCC.”
Members of Congress are prohibited from using federal resources for campaign purposes. The ethics complaint can be accessed here.
Highland Park — The Tenth Congressional District Democrats (Tenth Dems) is looking for immediate help with graphic design. An all-volunteer staff produces a graphics-intensive monthly newsletter, Tenth News. This widely praised newsletter consists of essays, news, and photos of interest to Democrats and progressives who reside in the 10th District and beyond and is delivered to many thousands of subscribers via email at the beginning of every month.
College and high school students might be interested and qualified. College credit (and in some cases high school credit) is available.