GOP Debate #9: Hello, Hello Hanover – Is this thing on?

In case you missed it, and unless you get the Bloomberg channel or watched it on the inter-webs you did miss it,  there was a republican presidential debate last night from the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover New Hampshire.  It was sort of the same old stuff but then it was different as well.  Let me count the ways:

1.  The Bloomberg Channel moderated the debate.  Now while my good friend Tony has won me over to the liberal media bias argument, I still contend that the cable news channels make the Big 3 networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) look like hard line conservatives. The folks at The Bloomberg Channel went a long way in proving me right.

Talk about liberal agendas, wow!  Every question was dripping with disdain and arrogance for any person who even thought a conservative idea might have merit.  It was as if the moderators were daring the candidates to try to answer their powerfully intellectual questions.  Let me tell you, Frank, yes my 2yr old Frank, could have answered most of those questions.  Frank’s a bright boy, but poo-poo and ca-ca would have been sufficient responses to a majority of the offerings from the moderators.

The setting this time was a round table discussion.  Think Cone of Silence round table from the old Get Smart series, not King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table.  All looked very comfortable, except Rick Perry.  More on that below.

2. The Herminator got a little taste of what it’s like near the top of the heap.  It’s even more rough and tumble if you’re near the top and have specific policies and plans out there.  Can you say 999 Plan.  Cain was getting jumped on all night.  He did well I thought.  Never answered a question without saying 999 Plan first.

So here’s the gist of 999.  Cain will introduce a 9% corporate tax, a 9% pay roll tax and a 9% national sales tax.

Of course the 9% corporate tax rate is a joke and is nothing more than a huge tax cut for corporations.  Surprise.

The sales tax portion is what will sink him in my opinion.  So if your state sales tax is 11% it will drop to 9%.  If your state sales tax is 0%, hello Delaware and New Hampshire, it will rise to 9%.  As Rick Santorum pointed out, yes he’s still in the race, there is no practical way to keep the national sales tax at 9% once instituted.  It’s likely to be raised.

Cain’s folks claim the 9% payroll tax, which is 6% lower than the payroll tax everybody currently pays, will more than off-set the sales tax you might have to pay.  Also the sales tax is on new items only, not used.  So used cars will not have a sales tax attached to them.  No word from car dealers as to who they will endorse for president, but I have a guess who it won’t be.

3.  Big night for Mitt.  He picked up a lot of donors who were backing Gov. Chris Christie of NJ.  Once Christie made it clear he was not running, all his donors waiting to heap gobs of money on him stood with Mitt.  Well last night Gov. Christie was in the audience and after the debate publicly endorsed Mitt for President.  That is huge, no pun intended Governor Christie.

It was also a big night in the actual debate.  The gang finally started to attack Mitt.  Bad move fellas, bad move.  Every question or attack directed at Mitt was swatted away with confidence and ease.  It was like Mitt was taking pity on them.  It was like Mitt was absorbing the energy of each candidate as their puny questions and attacks were tossed aside.   It was like Mitt was a clip from Highlander, seen here: There Can Be Only One

Mitt was clearly prepping for the big fight with the President.  He’s already making the pivot to a national campaign.  He rarely bad mouth’s his fellow republicans and really only tangles with Perry when Perry attacks him.  Mitt turned every question into his national stump speech.  That’s called winning, ladies and gentleman.  It’s way early but the former Governor of Massachusetts, is now the clear front runner.

4.  Perry had his worst debate yet.  He’s fading fast.  One tell tale sign, the moderator gave him a softball question about health care that Perry could have clobbered Mitt with and Perry didn’t take it.  He gave a bizarrely basic “we have to get the country moving again” type answer that was muddled to say the least.  He raised a ton of money this quarter, somewhere in the 8 million range, but that won’t continue or help if he can’t hold his own in debates and general confrontation.  Remember this is just the start of the process.  Which brings us to the same old Perry issue.

Once again Perry looked sleepy, literally.  He rarely answered or engaged unless the moderator went directly to him.  He looked at the same time bored out of his mind and afraid to make eye contact for fear of getting called on to answer.  He also misplaced the American Revolution, saying it occurred in the 16th century.  Yikes!  History will love you boys and girls, but you have to love history first.  A pound of fried Ham Hocks to the first loyal listener who replies with the correct century of the American Revolution.

5. To paraphrase a line I saw on Twitter, Hunstman, Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Bachman were trying to win the best cocktail party guest award and offered nothing of substance.

Gingrich wins for line of the night when he said he would arrest and jail the current head of the federal reserve and secretary of finance.

Bachmann wins the award for the most idiotic, wildly incorrect use of theology, line of the night.  When she was asked about Cain’s 999 Economic Plan she replied, “The devil is in the details, 999 upside down is 666.”   Really Michelle?  Since Frank is in the other room I’ll speak for him here and say “POO POO in da potty Michelle, POO POO in da potty!”

That’s Frank’s way of saying something stinks to high heaven.

6. My boy Rick Santorum was there.  Surprising because he is below the polling percentage points necessary to appear in debates.  However there was some technicality that allowed him in.  Still have not figured that out yet.  It was worth it though because the Rick-mister did not disappoint.

His first words were, “I’ve only got to answer one question tonight and everybody else is getting to answer several.”  It never really feels like a debate these days unless Santorum cries about the lack of attention.  Hey Rick, try getting more than your immediate family to answer polling questions about you and you might get some debate action.

His second answer you ask, well ole` Rick said he wants war with China.  He was so confused with the conversation Mitt was having with the camera, i.e. the rest of the country, about trade agreements and penalizing China for their shady monetary practices when Rick just blurted out “I want war with China.”  Cue pregnant pause, followed by awkward silence, capped off with a “damn-it Rick” look from the moderator.  And cut to commercial.

Santorum offered explanation but it was too late, the moment was sealed.

Next up Sin City.  The GOP debates moves to Las Vegas, hosted by CNN’s Wolf ‘I’m not a reindeer‘ Blitzen.

Winners and Losers – GOP Edition


The Herminator:  After the beat down he administered in Florida and the contested poll in Michigan, Herman Cain gained even more momentum early this week.  This time Cain struck gold with the Republican Federation of Women.  He won their straw poll with almost 50% of the vote. Perry and Mitt finished 2nd and 3rd respectively but way behind The Herminator.  Actually those two were in a statistical dead heat at 14% +/- 2%.

Chris Christie:  When was the last time someone got so much attention for saying he was not going to do something so many want him to do.  He’s been saying it for almost a year now.  Web sites are devoted to playing montages of all the times he has said he’s not running.  He had to cap off this denial with a 2hr press conference the past Tuesday.  He’s also the first politician I have ever heard answer the Vice President question honestly.  When asked he replied his personality and style would most likely keep him from being selected.  He just made Herman Cain’s VP short list.

Mitt Romney: See above paragraph about Chris Christie.  Also with all of Perry’s troubles, which will be detailed in the losers section, Mitt’s stock has risen.  As Chuck Todd of NBC put it, The establishment of the Republican Party will now fall in like with Mitt.  They won’t love him until he beats Obama.


Rick Perry:  His stock is plummeting as quickly as it soared.  He can’t convince people that letting children of illegal immigrants go to State Universities in Texas at the in-resident rate and government mandated vaccinations for young girls are good ideas.  Those issues are no longer his biggest problem.

A hunting camp his family has been leasing for a long time goes by the name Niggerhead.  Now Perry’s family didn’t name it that.  The word was painted on a big rock at the entrance of the camp.  Perry’s father painted over the word but it’s still visible.   The big stink among many stinks here is the fact that Perry knew all this before he ran for Governor of Texas and never thought it an issue.  That, to me, shows a lack of political insight.  Of course this was going to be an issue, manufactured or otherwise.  This is politics, truth and logic come in 9th and 10th on a top 5 list.

Make no mistake, this issue is killing him in the polls.  He has dropped way off in finances as well.  Christie’s financial backers have signed on to Mitt’s team not Perry’s as a lot of people thought, so this thing does have long term legs.  I for one don’t see the issue.  Perry’s family didn’t name the camp Niggerhead.  They don’t own the camp they just lease it  and then tried to remove the name.   I mean short of dynamiting the rock what was his father supposed to do.  This is a silly as the birth certificate issue.  Rick Perry has done more for minorities in the state of Texas than the its last two Governors.  The beating he is taking over his immigration policy alone should tell you something.  I don’t know the guy but a dude who lets illegal aliens go to his state universities doesn’t seem like a racist to me.  Then again I’m white and not in-charge of what GOP voters think.  Remember these are the folks who booed a soldier serving in Iraq during a nationally televised debate.  Dave Weigel’s article on the hunting camp issue.

Michelle Bachman: Michelle, Michelle, where have you gone?  She is a non-factor.  Pundits predicted she would be gone by Christmas of this year, I said Thanksgiving of this year, let the games begin.   Her funds have all but dried up.  What’s more telling is the straw poll Herman Cain won.  Bachman, the only woman in the field and the supposed only true conservative darling of the tea party, got shellacked in the Repub. Federation of Women straw poll.  She got 5.  No, not 5 percent of the vote, she got 5 total votes which is 1.4% of all votes cast.  Picture the Charlie Brown Halloween episode.  Cain got 3 extra large Kit Kat bars, Bachman – got a rock.  Unfortunately for her it wasn’t even a very big rock.  Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown        NFoW Straw Poll Results

Making matters worse for Bachman: Florida, Nevada, and South Carolina are moving their primary election days to January.  Iowa will now be the 4th primary instead of the first.  If she had any chance to stay relevant, even for a little while, Iowa would have been it.  It’s her home state, she probably would have finished 2nd or at least 3rd and that would have been enough to keep the money coming until the New Hampshire primary.  The NH primary now drops to fifth in the batting order anyway so say goodbye Congresswomen Bachman, we hardly knew ye.

Sarah Palin:  My first mention of the half Governor of Alaska.  It looks like it will be the last.  She finally said she would not run for President.  With the Florida primary moving to January the filing deadline to get on the ballot in Florida was Oct 31st so she had to make a decision.  She is not being lauded as Gov Christie is.  Part of that is the beating she takes daily from the media; the same media she craves so much by the way.  But a lot of it, I think, has to do with how she did it and how she said it.

On Greta Wire, Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox, Palin said the title of President is just that, a title and would shackle her and she didn’t want to be weighed down and kept from doing what she wanted to do by having to be President.  So focusing on why being President would be such a negative for her versus Christie talking about the positives of remaining Governor of NJ to finish what he started is, what I believe to be, a stark contrast in character.  The best summation I saw about the Announcement, was the comment that “a person more than half the country can’t stand announced she’s not running for a job she had no chance of getting.”

Social networking isn’t Sarah’s flair either.  Some 58 minutes after Twitter started trending about Palin’s announcement, it was announced that Steve Jobs died.  The twitter-verse exploded with tweets about Steve Jobs rightfully so.  I’m typing this on my 24 inch screen all-in-one Mac while my 2yr old son Frank is dancing and playing guitar (using his golf club) to Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer blasting from his mothers iPod.  The only one in the political circles on twitter not tweeting about Jobs, you guessed it, Sarah Palin.  Her camp kept tweeting videos of Palin speeches and appearances without even a simple explanation as to the intent.  That is just another in a long line of examples that show Palin and her camp really aren’t in touch with the general populace.  Her unfavorable stats in polls showed that and most likely led to her decision not to run.

Palin unfavorable stats

Oh and Howard Fineman, the director of political reporting for The Huffinton Post, kept tweeting blank pictures of his pocket, but he was sitting on his phone so he gets a pass.

GOP Campaign Update

A few interesting things have occurred since the last GOP debate in Orlando.

The Herminator  – Rise of the Pizza Guy.  So Florida held a straw poll over the weekend.  Straw polls are nothing more than popularity contests normally used to keep the voters interested in what becomes longer and longer political seasons.  Candidates usually come to events preceding the actual polling to give speeches, shake hands, meet and greet the unwashed, etc…

In the case of Florida’s straw poll, most of the candidates didn’t even come to Sunshine State for it.  Only Gov. Perry of Texas and Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfathers Pizza, showed and made speeches.  Perry quickly departed after his speech to attend Michigan’s straw poll, while Cain stayed for quite a while to press the flesh.

Cain’s moved payed off.  He crushed 2nd place finisher Perry and 3rd place finisher Romney.  Cain took 37% of the vote.  Perry got 15% and Romney 14% of the vote.  The rest of the crew finished so far out from the top 3 they’re not even worth the mention.  Again Mitt didn’t even go to the Florida poll, he spent a lot of his time in Michigan over the weekend where his father George was the governor from 1962-1969.  So there a lot of questions for the Perry campaign to figure out.

The bigger question is why the press is treating the Herminator’s victory like proof the GOP has nothing to offer and is in disarray.  Liberals have classified Herm’s big win as a vote for “none of the above”.  But that’s what the other side does, it should be expected that Democrats turn this into derogatory fodder.  However, had Perry won by 75% you can bet liberals and progressives would have downplayed the significance.  The bigger question is why has no one from the GOP has come out to defend Herman Cain. The silence of the GOP only lends credence to the attacks from the Democrats.

Perry has bigger issues than losing to the pizza guy.  He dumped the Florida event to get to Michigan only to have his a** handed to him by Romney.  Of course this is technically Mitt’s home state and he did spend serious time there prior to the poll, but the margin of victory was still a little startling.  Mitt took 50% of the vote to Perry’s 16%.  Even the Herminator finished 3rd with 8.5% in a state he did not visit.

Perry’s camp clearly has work to do.  The polls generally mean nothing and are better at predicating the loser of the actual election than the winner, but couple those 2 beat-downs with some bad debate’s and Perry could take a shot in the man-purse.  Money won’t find you if you don’t look like you know what you’re doing.  And make no mistake, money makes this whole process go round.

I was actually right for once:  My old buddy Rick Santorum, who is polling at 3% nationally, meaning only 3% of the people asked nationwide say they would actually vote for him, got a lot of questions at the last debate.  He got more questions directed to him than the guys running at the top of the polling.  I had opined that it was because Brett Baier of Fox News figured Rick would be willing to mix it up and add some sizzle to the snore-fest these debates have become for the general public.

Turns out I was right but it was not something Brett figured on the fly.  The Fox team actually anticipated it and crafted the strategy for the debate around Santorum in their pre-production meetings. So what looked like off the cuff questions thrown at Santorum by Chris Wallace and Brett Baier were actually scripted to heat up the debate between Santorum and Perry specifically.  Howard Kurtz, who covers politics for The Daily Beast, got some inside info on the production meetings and the plan to get Santorum to unwittingly be Fox’s firebrand, and confirms my suspicion.  You can read the Kurtz’s info in an article by Slate reporter Dave Weigel, here

Did I mention I was right about that.

Republican Debate #5 – Hello Orlando

The Republican debate rolled into sunny Orlando Florida Thursday night.  The moderator is one of the best newsmen still on TV; FOX News host Bret Baier.  Pitching relief are Fox personalities, Megan Kelley, and Chris Wallace, with video Q’s from normal folk on You Tube.  No BS with Bret, intro for the candidates was name only and right to the questions.  Take notes CNN, Fox and NBC know how to run debates.  Fox really rubbed it in CNN’s face as they busted out all the technology and really amped up the interaction from around the country.  They had regular people asking real questions.  Not a FOX guy by any stretch but Bret is impressive and FOX uses $100 bills as napkins in the company cafeteria.  All that adds up to a professional and smooth production.

One update to the lineup tonight.  Former Gov. of New Mexico Gary Johnson, a fiery left hander who hails from Minot, North Dakota, managed to get his polling numbers into the 1 percentile required for attendance.  A low/no tax libertarian, he may mix it up with Congressman Ron Paul, IF Paul gets asked a question.  After his Sept 11th answer fiasco that is a big IF.  So we are in for a treat, a rare night game at the Orlando Metro-Omni-Plex, and we’re underway.

Ron Paul: Not much to say here.  He has run out the string.  The college kids will keep his poll numbers high enough to stay in the debates, then he’ll run his own convention as he did in 2008.  He ends the debate by saying “I won’t answer the VP question.  I’m a top tier candidate now so it would be undignified.”  2 points: not sure what tier he’s referring to and Ron if you have to say you’re a top tier guy, you aren’t one.  I would refer you to Palin’s “I’m a maverick” business from ’08’.

Rick Santorum:  He really put up a fight tonight.  Unfortunately he was getting questions because Brett Baier is smart.  He knew Santorum would mix it up and Bachmann would not.  Rick pulled a fast one though and sounded the best on foreign policy with respect to Israel.  He’s been at this a while and he made Perry sound like a high-school freshman on the subject.  When Perry also seemed to know nothing about Pakistan, Santorum showed he has a firm grasp on that area of the world.  Too bad Santorum has an equally loose grasp on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  Swing and a miss Rick.  Sadly the DADT question came from a gay military member in Iraq via You Tube. The crowd booed his question.  Nice.  So much for supporting the troops.  Rick says he would throw the lad out if he was gay, he is Rick.  Bad move Rick.  Show him what he won Brett.

Newt Gingrich:  Smart move by Fox.  They let Megan Kelly ask Newt the first 2 questions he received.  Immediately disarmed him.  He even made a nice joke.  You could see him calculating the alimony and Tiffany’s shopping spree it would cost him to get with Kelly.  Newt, realizing he won’t be bashing the moderator tonight, goes back to yesteryear with most of his answers.   Starts his final answer with “32 years ago we zzzzzzzzz.”  Then begs off the “who’s your VP pick if you had to pick someone on the stage.”  Sissy.

Gary Johnson:  Johnson is a small business guy who set up a handyman shop in New Mexico in the early 70’s.  He’s a Libertarian who believes in little to no government.  He, like Paul, wants to abolish the Dept. of Education.  Spent his 3 questions trying to get his platform out there.  He’s playing catch up, but it won’t be nearly enough.  Wins best joke of the night with “My neighbor’s dog has created more shovel ready jobs than this President.”  Smart is good.

He looks much younger than he actually is (58) and is 2-0 in politics.  He ran for Gov. of NM and then won his re-election bid.  The last guy to do that became President.   Free twinkie if you can guess who.  A fried twinkie if you tell me the state the person in question was governor of.  Leave your answer in the comment section.

Herman Cain:  Holy cow, momma take me home I have seen enough to know I have seen too much.  Wallace actually asked the Herminator about his 999 economic plan.  No more shilling on the post debate TV interviews.  He even squeezed in a reference to the Chilean model.  Still have no idea what it is or how it affects the economy but he ended his answer with “That dog won’t hunt” so it must be a good plan.

Herm gets a standing “O” when the moderator asks him about being a cancer survivor during health care question.  As with all candidates his health care answer is to repeal the President’s health care plan.  Good for Cain that he never used his cancer fight in the campaign.  Shows some character in my book.

Michelle Bachmann:  She has really drifted.  Back to 28 children for the education question, she’s shadow boxing herself at this moment.  Once the questions got past education and onto immigration and foreign policy she became eerily quiet.  She forced her way into the foreign policy debate to quote – wait for it –  a government web site with stats related to terror suspects from Cuba.

Wallace hit Bachmann between the eyes about the HPV vaccine causing retardation.  She blamed the mother who said it and then attacked Perry over the mandate.   She got a question from Kelly about Thomas Jefferson on the constitutionality of church and state.  She would have done well to actually have read the constitution on that issue before answering.  Strike 3 looking.  Didn’t even take the bat off her shoulder.  Goodbye Michelle.

Jon Huntsman:  Won the award for the first Ronald Reagan reference of the night.  Let it go Jon, the man wouldn’t even be allowed in the Republican Party now.  The remainder of Huntsman’s answers drew praise – from liberals.  Now the 2nd smartest in the room next to Gov Johnson, he is the only democrat, he just doesn’t know it yet.  He would get farther running a primary challenge to the President.

Mitt Romney:  Perry took it to Mitt early and Mitt busted him in the snot locker.  Perry took a real cheap shot at Mitt during the education question and Mitt ripped a forehand winner down the line.  30 – love, Mr Romney at that point for those of you scoring at home.  The book Perry wrote 6 months ago is really coming back to hurt him.  Might be a reason no GOP candidate went after Mitt in the last 4 debates because when challenged tonight, he bloodied Perry.  No one else really took a shot at Mitt.  The rest can’t afford the body blows Perry can.  Although even Perry can’t go to that well too many more times.

Why is Romney 1 of 2 only people in the front seat of this clown car called the GOP primary candidates – he kept quite during immigration.  He knows Gov Perry has that issued nailed down.  That’s called being smart.  Romney was firing on all 8 cylinders tonight.  He kept giving Perry one liner back handed slaps all night.

Rick Perry:  Perry really walked back his Social Security attacks.  Spent a big amount of time reassuring people on SS and approaching SS that they are fine, even super duper fine.  Perry recovered from his Mitt beat down during the immigration section.  He truly has a good program in Texas.  The problem – it is the basis of the President’s dream act which was voted down last December, allowing illegal aliens the chance to go to state university (TX version of UT) on state funds and work toward citizenship.  Tea party don’t play that.  Free education for illegals doesn’t even play well with democrats.  But then to say a person has no heart if they don’t support his plan must have sent his tea party base to the booze.  He is also against the fence.  Why in the world is the fence only championed by northerners  like Mitt, Santorum, Bachmann, etc…  Their experience with illegal immigration – drunk Canadians coming over for the Bruins – Maple Leaf games without a valid DL.

Perry needs to stick one of his cowboy boots up the hind parts of who ever prepared him on the foreign policy section.  His answers were gibberish and he knew next to nothing.  Good thing they didn’t ask him who the president of Pakistan is. (His Excellency Mr. Asif Ali Zardari for those playing the home version)  The Gov needs to work on his stamina, literally.  For the 3rd debate in a row he looked tired as we moved to the 4th quarter.  Not a good look for a potential President.

The “I could have lived without that image” award goes to Perry for saying he would mate Newt and The Herminator for his VP choice.  Thank God dinner was 3 hrs ago.

Final Analysis:  No real shake up in the order of things from this debate. Perry is still the front runner but Romney is now on Perry’s outside fender and closing.  Romney was the only candidate talking to the American people.  What does that mean?  Well Mitt appears to be looking to the general election while Perry, et al are still appealing to the GOP base.   The problem is it gets harder to pivot to a general campaign the longer you use the language of incendiary partisanship.  In Fox focus group room, most of the 40 or so people said Mitt won the debate.  6 of those have switched from supporting Perry to Mitt.  Buckle up sports fans, the clown car is just getting started.

Note: On the right side of the blog is a link for the complete GOP primary debate schedule.  See you at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire on 11 October.

Tea Party Debate Update

Well there have been few developments and clarifications since Monday’s debate.  They are as follows:

Bachmann continued to slam Rick Perry on the morning shows over the mandated vaccination issue.  She added testimony this time.  On the Today show Bachmann said a women approached her after the debate to say that her daughter became mentally retarded after getting the shot.  By the way the shot is the drug Gardasil and is for the human papillomavirus or HPV; a virus know to cause cervical cancer.

There are several issues with Bachmann’s story.  First and foremost the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as other medical agencies have since made statements that Gardasil in no way causes mental retardation or any mental illness.  The bigger issue, in my mind, is the vagueness with Bachmann’s story.  She implied that the women was forced to get the shot for her daughter under the Perry mandate in Texas.  At the very least she did not clarify when the issue was brought up.  It would have been as simple as saying “yes the woman was from Texas” or “no she voluntarily got the shot.”  Bachmann did neither and let the interviewer and audience accept the implication that the girl was a victim of the Texas mandate.  The problem, the Texas state legislature struck down Gov. Perry’s executive order mandating all girls be vaccinated by the age of 14, a week after he signed it.  No one in Texas was ever vaccinated under Perry’s government mandate. Always hard to say a politician is lying.  Willfully disseminating false information is almost impossible to prove.  However if I was forced to make a judgement on Bachmann’s story I would feel comfortable enough to ring her up as pants on fire.

The web site politifact actually uses those type ratings on statements of politicians.  Here is their site: truth-O-meter

There was also an issue with the number of children Bachmann claims from one debate to the next.  In early debates she talked about 23 children, last night only 3.  Turns out she has 5 natural children and had over 20 foster children.  The reason she only mentioned 3 last night, she was referring to her three girls who would have had to get the vaccination under the Perry mandate.  Her two natural boys would not have and of course she would not have been authorized to vaccinate the foster kids, or so I’m told.  So apparently the number of children she has at any one time is directly related to the point scoring she needs during a debate in which she is trashing Rick Perry.

Speaking of Mister Perry, he has some bigger problems revolving around this vaccination.  It seems his statement about how much the drug company donated to him was slightly off.  People who check these sorts of things are still digging but estimates are in the neighborhood of $250,000.  So apparently the pharmaceutical company Merck, run in Texas by Perry’s former chief of staff now Merck lobbyist Mike Toomey, donated a sum much larger than the $5000 Perry claimed.  Oh yeah, Merck also makes Gardisil, the drug that would have been used for the Texas mandated vaccinations.  Imagine that.  No need to dig up Perry Mason for this case, even Stevie Wonder can see where this is going.

Can’t wait for the next debate.

Republican Debate #4 – CNN/Tea-party style

The traveling circus known as the Republican Presidential Primary rolled into Tampa Florida, Monday night.  At first blush it looked like the game in Miami between the Fins and the Patriots would be a better watch and it probably was but the debate heated up pretty quick.

CNN was the big host with Wolf Blitzen taking some annual leave from Santa’s sleigh team off season workouts to be the moderator.  The opening was about an 8.8 on the smarmy meter.  For those of you who grew up watching Miss America, think contestant introductions except with a bunch of people who need to tie pork-chops around their necks to get the family dog to play with them.  Wolf even did an example of how each candidate should intro themselves by staring right into the camera and introducing himself.  You corporate sales types would have had training meeting roll playing flashbacks.  The rest of us just felt creepy.  Yeah it was that bad.

Not much changed from the the last debate candidate wise.  It was the Mitt and Rick show for the first 30 minutes.  Even the CNN camera crew knows this is a two horse race.  They had Perry and Romney in frame by themselves most of the night as if they were the only candidates there.  Of course the first 30 minutes was about Social Security and since they were in the blue hair capital of the world, it was a big issue.  Perry and Romney have the most to say about that so naturally they dominated the topic.  OK on to the breakdown.

Rick Santorum – He made a liar out of me, the little bugger.  He managed to stay in the race to the next debate.  So apparently he’s half cockroach and will be around a lot more than I had predicted.  He was direct questioned 3 times in 90 minutes.  So he’s there but not really.  The first question drew the line of the whole primary season from Santorum.  After Perry and Romney were bludgeoning each other over everything, Wolf asked Santorum what he thought on the subject.  Rick’s response; “I’m not going to be a tool in their fight.”  I think we can all agree the tool joke writes itself.  Rick is surely no Newt when it comes to bashing debate moderators.

Herman Cain – Best line of the night – “I will bring a sense of humor to the White House because America is too uptight.”  Great Herman, can I get two large with pepperoni while you’re at it.  And again the Herminator is on MSNBC right now.  He’s talking about the Chilean Model and his 999 econ plan again.  I’m Herman Cain and I think zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Newt Gingrich – Newt spared Blitzer tonight.  Absolutely no moderator bashing tonight.  He even took a break on science.  He smiled and took credit for everything but the internet.  Boringly bizarre.

Ron Paul – He must be cheeking his anti-crazy old man pills.  He was literally off his rocker tonight.  He actually got booed over his views on September 11th, for which he blames the US and it’s government, and then started to argue with the crowd.  I would have sent him $20 if he yelled “Get off my lawn” at them.

Jon Huntsman  – Say it ain’t so Jon.  He was ridiculously stupid tonight.  It’s his last debate more than likely unless he can bring his poll numbers up.  Gotta hit that magic 5% to get invited to debates.  Curt Cobain references and calling Rick Perry a traitor is not the way to do that.  It was a tea party crowd so all the grunge rock references were not hitting the mark.  Lesson for you kids out there, don’t be ashamed of being smartest in the room.  And for sure don’t crawl in the mud with the dumb kids, you’ll never get all of the stupid off.  5% looking like a pipe dream now Jon and you have stupid on your jacket.

Michelle Bachman – She stood motionless and speechless for almost 35 minutes.  However, she came out like a rabid dog on the subject of Perry’s mandated cervical cancer vaccines for young girls in Texas.  Other than that she made Herman ‘999’ Cain look like Winston Churchill.  Which, in case you were wondering, ain’t good debate stategery.  Not good politics either.  It also helps if you can remember how many kids you have.  At the first 3 debates the number of her children was north of 25 when she counted all her foster kids.  Tonight that number was down to 3, her natural born, when discussing illegal immigration.  Something you want to share with us MIchelle?  Were you fostering illegal immigrant kids to get the gov’t subsidies you hate so much that you want no one else to have them?  She may not be around long enough to answer that question.  Took a huge hit tonight.

Rick and Mitt – Man they came out swinging.  Inside of 2 minutes they were referring to each other in the common.  No more governor this and governor that, it was Rick you suck, Mitt you suck worse.  They both got bloody.  Perry had the most awkward line of the night.  In response to Bachman’s charge that he was in bed with pharmaceutical companies, Perry answered “Of the 5 bazillion dollars I’ve raised they gave me $5000.  If you think I can be bought for $5000 then I’m offended.”  There was a huge pause before he added the I’m offended;  as if his brain was yelling stop, no, don’t do it Rick.  You either just admitted you can be bought for the right price or your a more expensive whore than they think.  Which I guess is ultimately the same thing.  Ironically he had a good point.  5 grand really is gas money compared to what he raises, how much influence could it possibly have had?

Mitt was taking the heat all night.  Tea party ain’t his crowd.  Clearly a road game for him.  And surprisingly a win.  The crowd knew they didn’t like him so he lost no ground because he had none to start.  But he gained by virtue of Perry sounding an awful lot like a socialist with respect to immigration and education.  Perry also walked back his Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and I’ll abolish it talk. So he looked a little weak to the tea party group.  Mitt came out ahead by not falling behind.  He’s still front runner 1a to Perry but he closed the gap.  Well the gap came back to him is probably more true.

The real losers – CNN.  Does anyone actually watch this channel anymore?  They looked amateurish at best.  The last topic of the night was immigration and when the candidates had eviscerated each other for about 5 minutes the debate ended.  Literally when the last person answered, Wolf stepped in and said that’s all the time we have thanks for coming and thanks to our candidates. Done, The End, Finis, you ain’t gotta go home but you gotta get up outta here.  Truly bizarre night all the way around.  I’ll take liberal media bias all day every day if it means a more professional debate.

Have you ever …

…seen anything so dumb, so insincere, and so annoying as every member of congress leaping to their feet to applaud when the President mentions anything even remotely related to the military?

This brood of vipers and money changers that are about to gut veterans benifits/retirements and have been undercutting the troops in the field expect us to believe that they support us because they jumped up and clapped?

Ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, Sit The Hell Down.  You are embarrassing yourselves and insulting us.  This nonsense, along with “I support the troops but not the war,” has to end.  You can’t cut benefits and entitlements to military members or cut funding for ONGOING operations in the field and say you support the troops.  I don’t care if you leapt so high out of your seat to applaud you had to get clearance from the  tower at Reagan International to land, you are a phony, a fraud, a flim-flammer, a bam-boozeler.  Yeah, those are words.  Play me in scrabble and I’ll dare you to challenge them.

Some of you members of congress only have so many precious beats of your heart left.  Yeah, I’m looking at you McCain.  Save your energy folks, don’t waste it on false displays of patriotism.  Go sell it to someone else cause we ain’t buying.  Elect me President and the first member of congress that stands to applaud at the mention of the military will be forced to join it.  Don’t worry Barney Frank, chem gear comes in your size too.  You’re going to love our Meals Ready to Eat.  Although they might not love you back.

Oh, there was a speech tonight.  The only thing I’ll say about that is thank God the President didn’t use the same tired phrase about inheriting the worst economy since the depression.  Omitting that phrase tonight marks the first time he has not used it since his inauguration.  Hopefully he finally came to his senses and fired the toothless, half-wit who kept telling him that it was a good speech opener even though we are just about 3 years into his term.  Ok Mr. President, you said some things tonight, now lets see you act on some things.