Saturday, November 7, 2015

Joseph's Granaries, Trump's Wall and Carly's Hallucinations.

Every time I have started a blog post about the Republican Presidential race and its candidates someone  has given me a reason to stop and rethink, and not in a good way.  I feel like so many times this particular group of supposed leaders has been not only disappointing and down right frightening and the media has been worse.  From the fawning over Donald Trump to the ridiculousness of debate moderators the media has failed miserably to inform the public over just what these candidates are actually saying and doing.  I could single out several people and may in a future post but let's just say that there are questions that are not being asked and it is disturbing to think that debates have now become profit centers for networks.  This has led to them being more a show and less a chance to see the candidates as potential leaders of our country and by extension the Western world.

However the leading candidates have not done anything to help their cause, because it looks like to get a bump in the polls one has to disassociate yourself from reality.  Lies have become the norm when the GOP gathers to pick the person that they think will be Secretary Clinton in a general election.  They appear to believe that the electorate is just plain stupid.  The list of things is remarkable from Trump saying that he didn't say something quoted on his own website, Senator Rubio talking how the stories of his finances are made up when court papers are public record, and Carly Fiorina describing a video she watched that doesn't exist.  And the list goes on.  Senator Ted Cruz in the last debate even lied about what happened in that very debate as he attacked the moderators for trying to pit the candidates against each other.  And so it goes.

So in a week where the new front runner is finally being fully scrutinized for ridiculous claims I have some advise for the media and for the average member of the Republican party.  Hold your candidates accountable and do it from a position of knowledge.  So let's take a look at how one can do that.

Dr. Ben Carson has claimed that he believes that the pyramids were built under the instruction of Joseph, the son of Jacob in the Bible, while viceroy of Egypt.  For Carson they were how the Egyptians had long-term grain storage, a part of the story of the Jews that drives a great deal of the narrative in the Book of Genesis.  It sets up the climatic Exodus story to come later.  Carson, a devout Seventh-Day Adventist and Biblical literalist believes  this theory which held sway in middle ages and images are seen in art of that period and in fact adorns the dome of an old church in Venice.  While I personally believe that his Biblical interpretation and potential impact on policy makes him someone I could never support, focusing on this and not the fact when he was faced with the reality his tax plan of tithing to the government would leave a huge whole in the budget and that his math was wrong he simply said that this reality wasn't true.  He basically said he believes that math works differently then it does.  While Senator Cruz suggested that the moderators of the debate challenged the good doctor's ability to do math, they really didn't.  Next week when the GOP puts on their circus again watch that Dr. Carson will be asked more about his view of Bible and not his math.  But here is the thing.  Dr. Carson's view of the pyramids is not really a big issue, but it is sexier than pointing out he has no idea how the government works.  Policy is boring, making fun of someone's religious beliefs are what sells airtime.  But the ignorance of so many who have no idea that Joseph's granaries is a belief held by many over the centuries is stunning to me.  That is where too often the media drops the ball.  Shiny objects are fun, real research isn't.

Which brings me to the shiniest object of them all.  Donald Trump!  Trump has been the most interestingly handled candidate so far in this race.  Trump, who acts like he is running for student council promising ice cream for lunch and less homework has made outrageous statements.  His approach to the race has been one of making insane statements and attacking people personally, including media, when they question him on them.  It has led the media to treat him like he is royalty hardly questioning his meager policy statements and focusing on ways of explaining away his bigoted and misogynistic outbursts.  In fact the enable him to write grand fictional stump speeches that include one of the single most ludicrous  assertions I have yet to hear a candidate make.  That he will build a wall on our southern border and have Mexico pay for it.  When asked for specifics he shuts down and just says how great he is.  What if Fox News next week at the debate asks him straight out armed with facts, figures and you know law, about this.  Show him where his flawed idea will simply fall apart and force him to bring forth something of a plan to get to where he claims he is going?  Again bad television but great for the American people.  Sadly they will find a way to either goad him into attacking someone on the stage or ignore him because when it comes to policy Trump is great for Saturday Night Live, not the White House.  But when CNBC asked him if he was a comic book character they weren't that far off from reality, however they should have pushed more for specifics.  Instead it was just there way of driving the plot of their show.  Frankly, if you believe in Trump's rhetoric I would like to know why.  Nothing he has says makes sense from a governing point of view but is what your drunk uncle might say at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night after his 3rd Tom and Jerry.  It would be funny if so many people didn't take him seriously and if the people who should stand up for us and challenge him weren't so bad at their jobs.

Which leads me to Carly Fiorina.  Her plunge in the polls is not the result of people learning more about her, though I wish that were true, it is more because no one is talking to her.  But she did get a brief bump after one debate where she talked about a Planned Parenthood video about a living baby as the result of an abortion being kept alive as an incubator for organs.  The video simply didn't exist. It didn't.  In fact, a Super PAC linked to her actually created a video to fill that void so she didn't look like a big liar, but as of this week she was clinging to lies about Planned Parenthood.  It is sickening that a news organization simply can't ask her to prove her lies.  I mean The View, a daytime talk show did question her on it, but that will only reinforce the lie in the minds of voters.  Whoopie Goldberg will never be a Ted Kopel or Tim Russert.  But then there appears to be no one in the news that is.

We are going to elect a President that is going to face amazingly important challenges and whoever we elect will be stronger for being forced to air real concerns in front of the electorate as two, and maybe more,  party candidates square off.  Which ever candidate comes from the GOP they should be vetted in a way that we know a great deal about how they might react to the growing world-wide threats to security, a growing but fragile economy, a crisis in higher education and the very real and very serious effect of climate change.  So far the biggest stories about the candidates are either made into punchlines or not explored fully.  Dr. Ben Carson has destroyed the aphorism about brain surgeons all being smart.  Donald Trump has become a classic example of a nationalist ID in human form running for President and Carly Fiorina is, well, the GOP's attempt to pretend that they have a woman candidate as well as the Democrats.  The media should be on that more.  They aren't.  So in the next 90 days or so, until the first ballots are cast for the nomination hold those in charge of the air time to task.  Try to keep them honest. We are a great nation and should have great leaders.  The process works when we all play our role.  If the media won't play theirs then we should help them do it.  In the age of the internet it is easy.

Why Hate Crimes Laws Are the Right Thing To Do

Indiana is one of a handful of states without a hate crimes (or bias crimes) law.  For many legislative cycles a bill was killed by the Re...