Tag: debate

Paul Ryan and John Shimkus don’t understand the concept of insurance

It has become inherently clear that the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress have zero concept of how insurance is supposed to work. Broadly speaking, insurance is a method of protecting one’s self from financial loss, and insurance can be an individual policy (such as a car insurance policy through a private-sector entity like State Farm, GEICO, or one of their competitors), a group policy (such as group health insurance plans provided by employers through a private-sector health insurance firm to the employers’ employees), or a government policy (such as the federal Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program commonly called Social Security). Likewise, health insurance is a method of protecting one’s self from financial loss associated with medical expenses, and can be an individual policy, a group policy, or a government policy. In order for insurance policies to be financially sustainable, those who do not need the benefits of the insurance policy in question must, by buying into the policy (which can be by paying premiums, taxes, and/or other means), effectively subsidize those who do need the benefits of the insurance policy in question.

The problem is, Republicans, who want to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), don’t understand how a financially-sustainable health insurance policy works.

At a recent press conference, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin bizarrely claimed that health insurance doesn’t work if healthy people have to effectively subsidize people people who are ill and/or injured:

…He even lost the suit coat and broke out the PowerPoint on Thursday. It was like watching something on cable access late at night, or a flop-sweaty rookie substitute teacher, and it was hilarious—except for the parts where people will lose their health insurance and die, of course. And this is what he said and, peace be unto Dave Barry, I am not making it up, either:

Paul Ryan said that insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick.

As if Ryan wasn’t far enough out of touch with reality, the person who legally represents me and several hundred thousand other people in downstate Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives, John Shimkus, made the sexist motivation behind repealing the ACA publicly known in committee:

But Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois took the cake on Thursday night when he questioned why men aren’t exempt from paying into insurance plans that cover prenatal care. “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” the congressman said. “Is that not correct? And should they?”

Let me ask a similar question: Why should women have to purchase health insurance for prostrate cancer treatments? Clearly, men never need prenatal care, and women never need prostate cancer treatments. However, if only women had to pay for health insurance covering prenatal care, such a system, regardless of whether the public sector or the private sector were to administer it, would be financially unsustainable. The same problem would be the result if only men had to pay for health insurance covering prostate cancer treatments. This is because a large percentage of women will need prenatal care for at least several months of their lives, so it would be only women who never get pregnant effectively subsidizing those who get pregnant any number of times in their lives. Health insurance covering gender-specific health illnesses/procedures can only be financially sustainable if both men and women pay into a health plan covering prenatal care, prostate cancer treatments, etc..

While I’d never run for public office myself, John Shimkus may legally represent all people in the 15th Congressional District of Illinois, but a significant minority of voters in the 15th district, including me, understand that Shimkus doesn’t understand how health insurance works.

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Business pledging to donate half of proceeds to Planned Parenthood selling “nasty woman” t-shirt

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post is NOT receiving payment from Google Ghost or anyone else to write blog posts about their products.


Last night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is male, called Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is female, “such a nasty woman”.

Trump’s “nasty woman” remark about Hillary has already prompted at least two businesses that I know of to start selling t-shirts with the words “nasty woman” on them. One of them is a business called Google Ghost (apparently not owned by Google or its parent company, Alphabet), which is selling this women’s T-shirt. The shirt, which includes the text “NASTY WOMAN” inside of a heart-shape, is available in sizes ranging from small to double extra-large, and Google Ghost has pledged to donate half of the proceeds from sales of the women’s shirt to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services to women and men. There is also a men’s version of the shirt, with men’s sizes ranging from extra-small to triple extra-large, and Google Ghost has also pledged to donate half of the proceeds from sales of the men’s shirt to Planned Parenthood.

This sounds like a great idea to raise money for women’s health!

Ted Cruz gets his history wrong about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff

In tonight’s Republican presidential debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), one of four Republicans seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination, claimed that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff led to the Great Depression.

This is yet another right-wing lie from Cruz.

The truth of the matter is that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was enacted in response to the Great Depression, not before the Great Depression. Although economic problems that led to the Great Depression had been building up for years prior to the 1929 stock market crash (most notably rampant income inequality), the crash is seen as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Great Depression. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff, named after then-Sen. Reed Smoot (R-UT) and then-Rep. Willis C. Hawley (R-OR), was signed into law by then-President Herbert Hoover in June of 1930, nearly nine months after the Black Tuesday stock market crash of 1929.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff failed to reverse the extreme economic decline for a number of reasons. First, the tariff was completely reactionary and not designed primarily to protect American manufacturing jobs or bring manufacturing jobs that went overseas back to America. Second, there wasn’t much in the way of social safety net programs or public works programs that any revenue generated by the tariff could be used to pay for back in 1930, as many of them still in place nowadays were enacted either as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal or as part of other policies enacted by subsequent presidents.

Ted Cruz, as well as many of the people he associates himself with, has a habit of lying through his teeth, and he’s proven that yet again. If you’re looking for a presidential candidate who will rebuild America and take on Wall Street greed, he’s not on stage tonight…he’s Bernie Sanders, and he’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Hillary admires war hawks like Henry Kissinger and anti-LGBT bigots like Paul Wellstone

At the most recent Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton praised one of the most dangerous people in American history, Henry Kissinger, who was Richard Nixon’s right-hand man on foreign policy (Operation Menu was a U.S. carpet-bombing operation in Cambodia that Kissinger played a key role in). Nowadays, a carpet-bombing operation of any kind would be considered a war crime under international law. For someone like Hillary to praise someone like Kissinger is, in and of itself, proof that Hillary does not stand for the progressive values that the Democratic Party should stand for.

In recent days and weeks, Hillary has also praised the late Paul Wellstone, who represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate for nearly two terms before his tragic death in a 2002 plane crash, was nearly a polar opposite of someone like Kissinger. In fact, Wellstone is someone that I admire, as he was progressive on nearly every political issue. However, he committed an unforgivable sin in 1996, when he voted for Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act, a bill designed to discriminate against LGBT  couples by denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages. For Hillary to praise someone like Wellstone and use Wellstone to attack Bernie Sanders for standing up to progressive values amounts to effectively defending Wellstone’s bigotry towards the LGBT community.

Hillary Clinton is running the most right-wing campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination since George Wallace in 1972.

While Democrats call for more debates, Republicans use veterans as political pawns

With her political firewall eroding, Hillary Clinton is now calling for another Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire on February 4, between the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary. Not to be outdone by Hillary, Bernie Sanders called for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to sanction three debates in the later stages of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination:

Sanders’s campaign released a statement late Wednesday calling for additional debates in the Democratic primary, but with specific provisions.

The campaign is requesting one each in March, April and May. All three must not be scheduled on a Friday, Saturday or holiday, and all three must include Martin O’Malley along with Sanders and Clinton.

“If the Clinton campaign will commit to this schedule, we would ask the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to arrange a debate in New Hampshire on Feb. 4,” the statement said.

While Democrats are pushing the out-of-touch DNC into sanctioning more debates without using anybody as a political pawn, Republicans are offering more debates on their side of the ledger as a way of using those who served our country in uniform as political pawns. That all started over Donald Trump’s hissy fit about the fact that Megyn Kelly, a woman, will be the lead moderator of tonight’s FOX News Republican presidential debate in Iowa.

Two SuperPACs supporting Ted Cruz, Keep the Promise I and Keep the Promise II, offered to donate $1.5 million to charities supporting veterans if Trump and Cruz agree to a one-on-one debate before the Iowa Caucuses.

Not to be outdone by a Cruz SuperPAC, Carly Fiorina made a couple of offers to Trump, both of which would involve money being donated to veterans. The first offer involved a promise of a $1.5 million donation to veterans’ charities if Trump and Cruz agree to debate Fiorina in Sioux City, Iowa on Saturday, and the second officer involved a promise of a $2 million donation to veterans charities if Trump agreed to debate Fiorina at a Trump campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa scheduled for the same time as tonight’s debate.

While I normally appreciate donations to groups that seek to provide help to those who served our country in uniform (provided that they’re a reputable charity), using our nation’s veterans as political pawns is absolutely disgusting, and one of the lowest things I’ve ever seen in a presidential campaign. In fact, at least one veterans’ charity has already pre-emptively refused any money from a Trump event.

Gannon the Cannon gives the finger to a Democrat on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly

Earlier today, Wisconsin State Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) flipped off Wisconsin State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) during a debate about Gannon’s racist remarks about crime in Milwaukee:

Several Democratic lawmakers from Milwaukee chastised state Rep. Bob Gannon, R-Slinger, for his comments, which they believed were racially charged. After a heated back-and-forth, Gannon flashed Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, his middle finger and walked out of the Assembly chamber.

“It is wholly inappropriate to give somebody the finger, for God’s sakes, on the floor of the Assembly,” Barca said, asking for Gannon to be reprimanded.

Gannon later apologized for making the gesture. It was the state Assembly’s first time meeting in 2016.

Gannon has earned a reputation of being a loose cannon and a racist. Prior to this most recent incident, Gannon made remarks encouraging concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit holders to shoot and kill “scumbags” and blamed black people for Wisconsin’s economic problems, the latter of which prompted the floor debate over crime in Milwaukee.

Gannon makes me look mild-mannered by comparison, and anyone who has met me, either in person or online, knows that I have a temper. What Gannon did on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly earlier today was extremely inappropriate, and people with Gannon’s attitude are why Wisconsin’s political climate is absolutely toxic these days. Wisconsin gave America kindergarten, and, quite frankly, kindergartners are more civil than Republican politicians these days.

The Washington County, Wisconsin Democratic Party issued this response to Gannon’s use of a certain inappropriate hand signal on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly:

Granted, it would be an absolute miracle if Gannon were to lose re-election to a Democrat, but Democrats should run a candidate against Gannon. I would be willing to do an email interview with a Democratic candidate in the 58th Assembly Candidate of Wisconsin, if one were to run for that seat.

My thoughts about the first Democratic presidential debate

Having watched last night’s Democratic presidential debate, I’ll begin by saying that I believe that Bernie Sanders won the debate, with Martin O’Malley having the second-best performance, followed by Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee.

My thoughts about Bernie Sanders’s performance

The Good – He upstaged Hillary Clinton on an issue directly affecting HRC (the private email server “scandal” that has been concocted by the GOP). He also defended himself very well, especially on gun safety and on the Veterans’ Affairs health system scandal.

The Bad – He mentioned his campaign website twice during the debate.

My thoughts about Martin O’Malley’s performance

The Good – He came across as the strongest candidate on gun safety, invoking the story of a family who lost one of their own in the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre.

The Bad – He tried to defend his zero-tolerance policing policy from his tenure as Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, which was one of several factors that have led to distrust between the police and the public in Baltimore.

My thoughts about Hillary Clinton’s performance

The Good – She came across as very professional during the debate without coming across as scripted or boring. She also cracked a joke at a very inappropriate remark from lead moderator Anderson Cooper about her bathroom usage.

The Bad – She twice invoked the fact that she’s a woman during the debate. She also gave weak answers on a number of issues, most notably marijuana legalization and financial regulation.

My thoughts about Jim Webb’s performance

The Good – He used his wife’s story on immigration very well.

The Bad – He used the NRA’s talking points on guns.

My thoughts about Lincoln Chafee’s performance

The Good – Nothing about his debate performance was especially good.

The Bad – He blamed his father’s death on his vote for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in the late 1990’s. Furthermore, he made an odd remark comparing himself to a block of granite at one point in the debate.

The big winners (other than the five Democratic presidential candidates debating)

The Democratic Party – All in all, the debate was a great showing that Democrats can have an intelligent, civil discussion about actual political issues between candidates representing various factions of the party.

Civic engagement – CNN’s telecast of the debate received the most viewers of any Democratic presidential primary/caucus debate in television history.

The internet – For the first time since the 1960 presidential general election debates, there appears to be a major disconnect between two media platforms on debate performance. In 1960, it was between radio (whose listeners viewed Richard Nixon as the debate winner) and television (whose viewers viewed John F. Kennedy as the debate winner). This time, it’s between television (which has been trying to spin a Hillary Clinton debate victory) and the internet (most people on social media view Bernie Sanders as the debate victor). I’d expect the newer platform (in this case, the internet) to come out on top.

The big losers (other than the five Democratic presidential candidates debating)

Anderson Cooper – Cooper, CNN’s lead moderator for the debate, tried to use his position to smear Bernie Sanders on a number of GOP talking points against him and failed, and he also made a very inappropriate remark about Hillary Clinton’s bathroom usage after one of the commercial breaks.

The mainstream media – See my remarks about the internet being a big winner above.

Mike Huckabee – Huckabee, one of many Republican presidential candidates, took to Twitter during the debate and made downright racist remarks about Korean people while attacking Bernie Sanders.

Joe Biden – With Hillary Clinton giving a strong enough debate performance to calm down those in the establishment who were fretting about Hillary, and Bernie Sanders solidifying the progressive base of the party, there’s not really a path to victory for Biden if he were to enter the race for the Democratic nomination.

Debate fairness – CNN shut out Lawrence Lessig from participating in the debate despite the fact that Lessig is a Democratic candidate for president.

What if I had to introduce the candidates at the first Democratic presidential debate?

While nobody would hire a known Bernie Sanders supporter like me to publicly introduce the candidates at a Democratic presidential debate, if I had to do so for the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 election, here’s what that would sound like:

Please note that I did not include an announcement for Lawrence Lessig, who was not invited to the debate by CNN despite being a Democratic presidential candidate (something I strongly disagree with), nor did I include an announcement for Joe Biden, who CNN will allow to appear at the debate if he wishes to do so (Biden is not expected to appear at the debate).

If you want to leave your thoughts about my announcing style (be honest!!!), feel free to do so in the comments section.

The debate is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13th at 7:30 P.M. Central Daylight Time, and will be televised by CNN (obviously, I will not be at the debate, but I will be watching on television).

Bernie Sanders campaign offers Tulsi Gabbard a ticket to the Democratic presidential debate

The nearly-irrelevant Democratic National Committee (DNC) disinvited their own vice-chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), from tomorrow night’s Democratic presidential debate over the fact that she wants more than six Democratic presidential debates:

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she was disinvited from the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Nevada after she appeared on television and called for more face-offs.

Ms. Gabbard confirmed on Sunday that her chief of staff received a message last Tuesday from the chief of staff to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the national committee, about her attendance at the debate. A day earlier, Ms. Gabbard had appeared on MSNBC and said there should be an increase beyond the current six sanctioned debates.

A person close to the committee who asked for anonymity to discuss internal discussions insisted, however, that Ms. Gabbard had not been disinvited. Instead, the person said, an aide to Ms. Wasserman Schultz expressed a desire to keep the focus on the candidates as the debate approached, rather than on a “distraction” that could divide the party, and suggested that if Ms. Gabbard could not do that, she should reconsider going.

The fact that Debbie Wasserman Schultz thinks that calling for more debates is a “distraction” proves that she is clearly out of touch with what most people in her party strongly believe…six presidential debates is simply not enough for the Democrats. Even worse, Wasserman Schultz is throwing her own party’s officials under the bus in a desperate attempt to remain at least somewhat politically relevant in this country.

Thankfully, Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, has a very interesting idea to get Gabbard in a spectator’s seat the debate:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the Democratic National Committee vice chair who said she was disinvited to the first Democratic debate, might wind up attending the Tuesday night event as a guest of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said Monday on CNN’s “New Day” that Gabbard could use a ticket from the Vermont senator’s campaign.
“If she needs a ticket, have her give me a call,” Weaver said, adding, “I think we have a couple; we can give her one.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s alienating allies and mismanagement of the DNC reminds me a lot of the mismanagement of the failed professional wresting promotion WCW circa 2000. In fact, near the end of WCW’s existence, some of WCW’s own wrestlers, most notably Scott Steiner (real name: Scott Rechsteiner), were publicly calling out WCW management for running the promotion in the ground:

Wasserman Schultz is trying to run the DNC like a bad professional wrestling promotion. That is most certainly not the way to run a political party, as the party risks losing voters, perhaps permanently, if Wasserman Schultz continues with her autocratic style of managing the Democratic Party.

I’ve found exactly one person who is defending Wasserman Schultz online, and this person, who is a member of the progressive website DailyKos, is using racist language to attack Bernie Sanders and his supporters:

The only people who have a problem with Wasserman-Schultz are Sanders supporters, and he’s not even a Democrat. Why would the Democrats get rid of a Democratic Party chairwoman because of the wishes of a non-Democrat and his all-white, all-upper-middle-class supporters? Wasserman-Schultz is the chairwoman of the entire party, and that includes African-Americans and Hispanics who by vast majorities support Hillary. We can’t cater to the white upper-middle-class here just because they yell louder and post more frequently on online blogs.

When Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s own supporters are race-baiting and spreading blatant lies about Bernie Sanders and his campaign (for starters, Bernie Sanders has many black, Hispanic, and poor supporters, and Sanders is a Democrat by virtue of his membership in the Senate Democratic caucus), it’s time for her to step down from the DNC chair.