October 13, 2019

Sunday School 10/13/19

Two of the candidates running to be the blue party's nominee were in the classrooms today - Democrat Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who talked with Jake Tapper for CNN's State of the Union, and Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who chatted with Jonathan Karl for This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Earlier, I guessed that chances were less than 10% that either of the candidates would be asked about anything other than president Trump, impeachment, and Ukraine.  Let's see what happened - Mayor Pete's up first.

First question? Tapper wondered how Buttigieg would handle getting our troops out of Syria, if it were up to him, and how we would also protect our allies, such as the Kurds. He responded that ending endless wards doesn't mean we stop participating and engaging. 
Look at what's happened here. This isn't even a strategy or a policy, it is the president systematically destroying American alliances and American values. And that makes America worse off. 
He went on to say "these kinds of messy, asymmetric conflicts" are going to be going on, and we need to not only defend our interests but also to "live up to our obligations to our allies." And of course, we're not doing that now, he said. And when he hears our soldiers saying they've "lost their honor over this" and they can't look our allies in the eye, it's disturbing to him as a veteran.
And if you take away a soldier's honor, you might as well go after their body armor next. That's what the commander in chief is doing right now.
So, yes, if we need to keep US personnel in Syria, that's what he'd do. Tapper wondered if he'd be willing to threaten or use force against Turkey, a NATO ally, to protect the Kurds. Buttigieg said if he was president, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place; we would use our leverage as an ally, and we could have stopped this, absent Trump's "reckless choice."
Under this president, America is being turned in to just another country, just another country out there scrapping for advantage, not showing leadership, not in an exceptional position to shape outcomes around the world. 
Enough of that, let's go to impeachment. Tapper mentioned a poll showing nearly 6 in 10 Trump's fate should be left up to voters, and wondered why they shouldn't be the ones to decide. Buttigieg pointed out that a majority of Americans in other polls think he should not only be impeached but removed from office, but that polls are not the way to decide this. And, he added.
It's not just about holding Donald Trump accountable... It's about making sure that a future president, 10 years or 100 years from now looks back at this moment and draws the lesson that nobody is above the law. And in a moment like that, public opinion is just going to have to follow the lead of the Constitution, instead of the other way around.
And then, moving to the Biden Issue. And Tapper wondered if Hunter Biden's announcement that he would end foreign business activities if Joe got elected was an acknowledgement of at least an appearance of a conflict of interest. And while I wish Mayor Pete had refused to answer the question,  here's what he said:
I think it demonstrates the difference in standards relative to the White House. I mean... the president of the United States is a walking conflict of interest. You've got family members - you want to talk about family members? In the White House right now, you've got Ivanka Trump benefiting from patents from the Chinese. You've got the president's son-in-law texting with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, while, meanwhile, the president's sons go around the world pretending like the fact that their father is the president of the United States has no impact on the international business dealings that they do.
We don't even know whether Trump financial interests in Turkey contributed to the decision to betray American allies and American values. And they want to talk about conflicts of interest? It's a radically different standard.
Honestly, if you've got to answer the question because the talking heads can't help asking Candidate A about Candidate B's singular problem, I really like that answer.

Moving quickly to LGBTQ issues, he was asked if he agreed with Beto O'Rourke's statement that religious institutions should lose their tax exempt status if they refuse to hire or provide services to LGBTQ folks.  Again, not his position, but what the heck, might as well answer, I guess. He agreed that the anti-discrimination laws should be applied to all institutions, but added
...the idea that you're going to strip churches of their tax-exempt status if they haven't found their way toward blessing same-sex marriage, I'm not sure he understood the implication of what he was saying. I mean, that means going to war, not only with churches but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do...
 He believes this kind of approach
is just going to deepen the divisions that we're already experiencing, at moment when we're actually seeing more and more people, motivated often by compassion and by people they love, moving in the right direction on LGBTQ rights, which is obviously extremely important to me personally. 
And, that was it - interview over.

Meanwhile, back in Vermont, here's what Sanders and Jon Karl were talking about, starting with his health and his return to the campaign trail. He said he looks forward to going back to a "very vigorous campaign." Karl asked if his docs were good with that. 
Well, let me be very clear and backtrack, and tell you that, probably, there’s nobody who has run a more vigorous campaign than I did. And we’re talking about three or four rallies a day and town meetings and so forth and so on, but I think after a short period of time, we’ll probably be able to return to that. Not the first day back.
And yes, the doctors are OK with that, and yes, he's going to release his medical records, "as soon as we can." Which led Karl to as if  all of the candidates should release theirs. Sanders said it should be the standard that all candidates do that (although I'm sure he's referring to legitimate records, not ones that the candidate may write on their own.)

There were several other questions on his health, and Sanders noted that having stents put in is a fairly common procedure, one that's done hundreds of thousands of times a year, and that he should have put two and two together and realized that he wasn't just tired from campaigning, but that something more serious was wrong. And now, he's ready to get back to work.

Karl wondered if he' drop out if something significant occurred; Sanders didn't bite, refusing to speculate on that but hey, he had good insurance and lots of people don't, so don't go to the hospital when they should or leave with tons of medical debt.
So maybe one of the lessons that I have to tell you I learned is that I'm going to fight even harder than I have for Medicare for All. I am more committed to the struggle than I was a few weeks ago. 
Next, Karl moved to talk about Elizabeth Warren, who's a few years younger than Bernie, and has "pretty close to identical positions" as Sanders. Karl wondered how Sanders would respond to people who would pick her because she didn't just have a heart attack.
Well look, everybody, every American is going to make his or her own choice about the candidate that they want... Elizabeth I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not. I think the situation today that we face in this country of the greed and the corruption that is existing in Washington, that is existing at the corporate elite level...
He referenced drug companies, no guarantee of healthcare to all, fossil fuel companies destroying the planet, before continuing
And I think business as usual, and doing it the old fashioned way is not good enough. It’s not regulation. Now what we need is, in fact, I don't want to get people too nervous, we need a political revolution. I am, I believe, the only candidate who's going to say to the ruling class of this country, the corporate elite, enough, enough with your greed and with your corruption. We need real change in this country.
And when Karl pushed on whether that was what Warren was saying, Sanders basically told him to ask her what her position is, he's here to talk about his position, reiterating that he is not a capitalist -  and she is.

Karl then talked about Warren having a plan for everything, but not yet one for healthcare.
Again, Elizabeth is a friend of mine. Talk to her. I have put out a healthcare plan. It's called Medicare for All. We're going to tell the insurance companies and the drug companies that we will not continue this current dysfunctional and cruel system. 
Moving to Syria, Karl noted that Sanders was "very critical" of Trump's decision to pull out troops.
It's an outrage...what does it say to the entire world that you have a president who gets off the phone with Erdogan of Turkey... We're deserting these people who have put their lives on the line to work with us in fighting against some of the worst terrorists in the world, Send a message to the entire world, you cannot trust the United States of America anymore in foreign affairs.
Doesn't matter what the president says, because tomorrow he may reverse himself. It is outrageous. 
He also noted that figuring out how to deal with Turkey is a whole nother issue, and that he is a "strong opponent" of endless wars.  Karl noted that Trump, too, is not a fan of endless wars.
Yes...But the difference between Trump and me is he lies. And, again, you don't turn your back on an ally that lost 11,000 troops fighting against terrorism through a tweet and a discussion with Erdogan.
Moving to impeachment, Sanders is not concerned that Nancy Pelosi didn't have a vote before moving ahead, and he's glad that the inquiry is moving forward. And?
And I think it's proper that it's going forward. I want it to go forward as expeditiously as it possibly can. I think at the end of the day the evidence is there to impeach Trump. 
And that's not all. Sanders is concerned about what happens if the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate.  Mitch McConnell is an unknown, it seems.
Will Mitch McConnell do the right thing? Will he have a full trial, where the American people, and Senators...can hear the evidence regarding what Trump did? I am nervous that McConnell will put party in front of country and not do that. 
Either way, if it does get that far, Trump will have strong support for an innocent path and strong evidence for a guilty path in the Senate, Sanders says.
And the Senate will make its decision. It will make its decision as will the American people. That has to take place. 
Yes - that has to take place.

See you around campus.

October 12, 2019

In Case You Missed it (v6)

Another week in the books. Another handful of posts you might not have had the chance to see... Here's a recap for you.

Sunday School brought us a chance to hear from not only a Dem running for president, but two Republicans doing the same:  former Representatives Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh. They're of two different minds when it comes to president Trump and to impeachment, with Wash taking a much harder line, as he did here, posing a question to Sanford.
... Either the Republican party stands up now and says, we oppose this, we oppose collusion, we oppose foreign governments interfering in our election, either we stand up with one unifying voice with that right now, Mark, and we don't get involved in the gobbledygook of censure or impeachment or is it politically prudent. How about we Republicans do what is right, sir?
It was interesting to hear them, and to see one of the Sunday classrooms have a multi-person interview - or, in this case, to have a Republican debate, something we might not see if the president and the RNC have their way.

On Monday, I switched gears a little. I figure everyone now and then someone might get tired of my words, and so I let the president's own words flow, unimpeded, in free (and very shapely) OrangeVerse (and yes, it actually does flow orangely, in case you haven't seen any of his poetry before).

I dropped a Sunday School Extra Credit piece on Tuesday, which was all about interviewers and their subjects - or, more accurately, about interviewers trying to get their subjects to answer questions - featuring Chuck Todd of Meet the Press and Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. While Wallace tried valiantly to get an answer using the old 'repeat the question' method, Todd took the 'yell at your guest' approach, and became the darling of social media folks all over the left hand side of the dial. Me? Not really all that impressed.
While some are applauding Todd for his efforts, others suggest that giving him kudos for doing his job is kind of like giving everyone a participation trophy or something. And, of course there's the whole other point that this is way too little, way too late. Had he or any other journalists done this back in 2015, beginning with the escalator ride, we might not be sitting here having an impeachment investigation of the president. Why? Because Trump would not have been the nominee, had he faced even the slightest real scrutiny in the beginning - or even the middle - of his campaign. By the time most media outlets started to take him seriously, it was way too late.
We're apt to fall into the same thing again this year, the way coverage is going. Tuesday's debate will be a real test for the moderators, if not for the candidates.

I was Wondering on Wednesday among other things, about how the president is reacting to the whole impeachment thing.
I'm also wondering, thinking about his impeachment binge-tweeting, whether he's really mad that Mueller didn't find any collusion, and so he's been trying to show that he is, in fact, able to successfully collude with another country to interfere in our elections?
Similarly, he's got the Mueller report showing multiple acts of obstruction of justice, for which he's been told he cannot be charged, and so now he's just boldly obstructing everything, including the impeachment inquiry?
Thursday's message from the Update Desk showed us that even though the third quarter fundraising rush was completely over, there's no end to the hustle to get campaign contributions. And, there's little start to policy discussions, generally, although there was a glimmer of hope. 
This week saw only one email related to guns - and it wasn't Beto this time, it was Biden. Bernie mentioned Medicare for All, pointing out that everyone should be entitled to the same great health care he received after suffering his heart attack.  
On other issues, we saw new plans from Warren, who introduced a new worker's rights plan, and Sanders, who rolled out his 'Money isn't Speech' plan.  And, both Buttigieg and Warren released plans for LGBTQ equality.
All of the candidates are talking about the upcoming debate, which will have Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer joining the top ten on stage - I can only imagine, and will start pumping energy drinks tomorrow to make sure I'm ready for the live stream on the veritable pastiche Facebook page.  

And finally, blissfully, TGIF! I was in a funk, I admit, and it was my own fault for watching clips of Trump's rally in Minnesota. I really should know better.
I see a man unhinged, unglued, unsafe, unsound, and unfamiliar with what America means or stands for. I see young people in the audience behind him, and except for the couple times when the teens appeared shocked at what Trump was saying, it was disheartening to say the least. 
I really should know better.

Next week?  I know for sure I'll have something to say about the debate, as well as a number of our regular features.  Stop by to see what else bubbles to the top.