Mike Kueber's Blog

January 16, 2013

Money in Texas politics

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 7:58 pm
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A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the outsize role that money is playing in races for San Antonio’s City Council.  Today’s edition of the San Antonio Express-News has so many articles on money in Texas politics that it makes me sick:

  1. George P. Bush, about whom I blogged a few days ago, has already raised $1.35 million even though he hasn’t even decided which office he will run for.  Because Texas has no limits on contributions, Bush was able to collect $50,000 from his dad Jeb and $50,000 from his uncle Bush-43; 449 contributions from 29 states, with 65% from TX and 26% from FL.   
  2. The Pre-K 4 SA initiative received $345,000 in contributions in the last few days before the election, mostly from HEB, and $30,000 from the Castro for Congress campaign.  The Castro contribution is shocking because that is federal money, which is limited to $2,500 per contributor.  But then again, it isn’t shocking because Joaquin Castro was not in a competitive race and therefore didn’t need the money.  And from his family’s perspective, the defeat of Pre-K 4 SA would have been devastating.   
  3. Attorney General Greg Abbott has accumulated an incredible $18 million, which some suspect is an indication that he plans to take on Governor Rick Perry, who has a mere $6 million.  Texans should wonder who is giving these people so much money, and what are these contributors expecting or receiving in return?  Incidentally, the House Speaker Strauss has $4 million and the Lt. Governor Dewhurst has a mere $2 million. 
  4. If these money articles weren’t enough, the front page of the Express-News is headlined with an article on the former deputy city manager, Pat DiGiovanni, receiving a letter of admonition for having a conflict of interest in approving a multi-million dollar contract to a business run by a person he was interviewing for a job with. 

I suddenly feel the need to take a shower.

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November 18, 2012

Rick Perry thumbs his nose at ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion

Filed under: Issues,Medical,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 3:25 pm
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Rick Perry and a lot of Republican governors are back in the news lately because they are declining to participate in two major components of ObamaCare – (1) developing insurance exchanges, and (2) expanding Medicaid.    

Part of the problem with Medicaid is that people don’t have a full understanding of the role it plays in America’s safety net.  Most people believe the major difference between Medicare (healthcare for the elderly) and Medicaid (healthcare for the poor) and is that Medicare is insurance that the beneficiaries have paid for, while Medicaid is welfare that is paid for by general tax revenues.  That is correct, but another oft-overlooked difference is that Medicare covers virtually all of the elderly while Medicaid applies to only a fraction of the poor.  In fact, Medicaid is essentially limited to poor children and their parents.  It does not generally cover poor people without children.  (Incidentally, in 2012 the poverty line (Federal Poverty Level or FPL) for an individual is $11,170; for a family of four, the poverty line it is $23,050.) 

ObamaCare is changing the limited nature of Medicaid in two significant ways – (1) it will apply to all poor people, not just poor people with kids (this will bring in an additional 17 million beneficiaries to Medicaid), and (2) it will extend to people who earn no more than 138% of the poverty line.  That means a family of four can earn more than $30,000.

For families that are more than 138% above the poverty line, ObamaCare provides for them to purchase coverage at an insurance exchange and for this purchase to be subsidized by the federal government if the family earns less than 400% of the poverty line ($45,000 for an individual; $90,000 for a family of four).  The amount of the subsidy is calculated by limiting, on a sliding scale, a family’s cost for the purchase to between 2% and 9% of family income.

The insurance exchanges and the expanded Medicaid are the two most important mechanisms in ObamaCare to insure the heretofore uninsured.  Although the law couldn’t force states to develop insurance exchanges, it warned that the federal government would develop exchanges in those states that declined.  Similarly, the law couldn’t force states to provide the vastly expanded Medicaid, but, in addition to providing generous reimbursement, it threatened to withhold all existing Medicaid funding from those states that declined.

This summer, however, the United State Supreme Court threw a monkey wrench into the ObamaCare design by holding that Congress could not punish states by withholding Medicaid funds if a state declined to participate in expanded Medicaid.  And a bunch of governors in conservative states immediately, with much flourish, declared their opposition.  Texas’s Rick Perry was their leader: 

  • “I will not be party to socializing health care and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government.”

But since President Obama’s re-election, some of the governors are reconsidering their initial rejection of expanded Medicaid because, upon closer examination, the rejection is fiscally irresponsible. ObamaCare promises to reimburse states for 100% of its costs for three years and after that the reimbursement rate will be 90%.  How could a fiscally responsible state turn down a valuable benefit to the poor and near-poor individuals in a state if it only has to pay 10 cents on the dollar?  Not only does it benefit the state’s poor, but it also brings a lot of federal dollars into a state, which will more than make up the state’s 10% cost.

Some state critics of ObamaCare have warned that there is no guarantee that the federal government won’t increase state responsibility in future years (states pay 43% of the costs of existing Medicaid benefits), but that warning doesn’t make sense because states could always discontinue a program if costs start exceeding benefits.  (Political feasibility is another thing.)  Furthermore, the fact that every state already participates voluntarily in the existing Medicaid with a 43% contribution rate suggests that these states would be falling all over themselves to get in an expanded program with only a 0-10% contribution rate.  

ObamaCare proponents have suggested that Perry and the other Republican governors were engaged in pre-election posturing, and will come around post-election.  In a Politico piece, Jennifer Granholm pointed out that Texas has 6.1 million uninsured, and the Medicaid expansion would cover 2 million of them, plus provide the Texas economy with a huge cash infusion of $76 billion for 2014-2019.    

Wow, that’s a lot of money to walk away from.  If I were a betting man, I would bet that Rick Perry is going to come around on this one.

August 1, 2012

Chick-fil-A, guns, and religion

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 5:49 pm
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Today, as I was returning from my morning gym/yoga, I drove by a Chick-fil-A and noticed the drive-thru was backed up for blocks.  It appears that the people in San Antonio are clinging to their guns and religion while the people in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Boston are ready to give up theirs.  That’s the great thing about federalism – as Rick Perry said in his book Fed Up, Americans can choose to live amongst kindred spirits in states and cities with laws they are comfortable with.

July 9, 2012

Rick Perry tells President Obama to quit messing with Texas

Filed under: Issues,Medical,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:47 pm
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According to an article in today’s Texas Tribune, Texas governor Rick Perry has decided that Texas will resist the implementation of ObamaCare:

  • If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.  I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government.” 

The Tribune article points out that the decision with respect to state exchanges is not significant because ObamaCare provides that when a state refuses to set up an insurance supermarket, the federal government will step in with its own federal exchange.  But Perry’s decision is important with respect to the expansion of Medicaid.  The Medicaid expansion to individuals who earn up to 133% of the poverty line is essential to the ObamaCare objective of providing near universal health-insurance coverage.  According to a Fox Business report, ObamaCare is designed to extend health-insurance coverage to 16 million uninsured Americans through the insurance exchanges and another 16 million Americans through the Medicaid expansion. 

The Perry decision is bound to be controversial because (a) Texas has the nation’s highest rate of uninsureds (6.1 million) and (b) the federal government has promised to pay 90% of the cost of this expansion.  (Reminds me of that old saying from Alexis de Tocqueville about the proclivity of government to bribe people with their own money -“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”) 

During the next ten years, according to DallasNews.com, the Medicaid expansion in Texas would cost the federal government $112 billion and Texas $9.5 billion.   Thus, many pundits predicted that states would be reluctant to turn down federal largesse, but Texas isn’t alone in tellling the federal government to go to hell.  Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal made a similar threat on a Sunday talk show last week, and according to an article in the Washington Times, there are more than a half dozen Republican governors who have made similar declarations.  According to TheHill.com, there are at least eight such governors, but it fails to identify them.  Slate.com places Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and Florida governor Rick Scott on the list of recalcitrant Republican leaders.        

DallasNews.com pointed out that Texas’s 6.1 million uninsured people, and “these folks obviously consume health care services, so their health costs get distributed across other populations: hospitals, insured consumers (who pay higher insurance premiums, to make up for the costs of the uninsured) and local taxpayers (who fund county hospitals that treat the uninsured).” 

Because of these facts, DallasNews.com pointed out the moderate Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, offered only partial support for Governor Perry:

  • Straus opposes the federal health law, and said he hopes Republicans will recapture the White House and Senate, and repeal it. If the law stands, however, Straus said the Legislature “will be much more involved in the decision making on this.”
  • But he said of Perry, “I have no quarrel with his approach today.”
  • The proposed Medicaid expansion as “a big, massive federal increase, … another entitlement,” that he said is unwise, “especially in these fiscal times.”

As a matter of principle, I agree with Rick Perry’s understanding of the federalism and the Tenth Amendment.  It is difficult to stand on principle, however, when it costs your citizens more than $100 billion over ten years.  I would accept the federal bribe while continuing to work toward the replacement of those politicians in Washington who delight in ignoring the Tenth Amendment.

November 16, 2011

The Good Government Caucus

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:05 pm
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When I use the term Good Government, I am referring to reforms that are intended to help a democratic government function more effectively.  Examples include eliminating gerrymandering for the redistricting process and establishing term limits for legislators.  Good Government reforms often have a difficult time gaining traction because there is a tendency to accept the status quo, but more significantly the reforms take away perquisites from the incumbents.  Many incumbents will give lip service to favoring a Good Government reform, but then silently resist its enactment.  Another example of this is the Balance Budget Amendment, which nearly 70 senators are on record as supporting, but yet it has never been able to get past the Senate.

Good Government reforms made the news twice this week.  The first occurred on Sunday with a 60 Minutes article on insider trading by congressmen.  Apparently, there is no law against a congressmen engaging in stock trading based on private information that they have obtained through their congressional work.  The article revealed a congressman who has been trying to outlaw the practice for years, but his bill, called the Stock Act, has met silent resistance.  When 60 Minutes asked various congressmen for their position on the bill, they uniformly said they would have no objection to the law, but they weren’t familiar with it.

Local politician Joaquin Castro, who is running for Congress in San Antonio, posted a comment and a link on his Facebook account about this 60 Minutes article, and made the simple argument that insider trading for congressmen must stop.  I post a comment suggesting that when he gets to Congress, he should consider establishing a Good Government caucus consisting of Republicans and Democrats who are interested in pushing for nonpartisan ideas that will help government function more effectively.  With the support of a Good Government caucus, the enactment of the Stock Act would be more achievable.

The second instance of Good Government in the news occurred on Tuesday when Rick Perry proposed major reforms.  According to an article in the NY Times, Perry’s proposal consisted of the following:

  • Cutting congressional pay in half
  • Shorten the time that Congress is in session
  • Ending lifetime tenure for federal judges

The Washington Post reports that Perry wants to cut congressional pay in half again in 2020 if the federal budget remains out of balance.  That proposed motivation sounds similar to an idea that I proposed several months ago – i.e., every two years, voters in  America should decide whether the performance of Congress justifies a 10% pay raise, a 10% pay cut, or no change.  More than any idea I have heard of, this would change the way Congress operates.

Not surprisingly, Perry’s proposals were received with scorn and condescension.  Senator Conrad of ND, who has been working for a congressional pay freeze for years, suggested that Perry’s 50% pay cut was “kind of a silly idea.”  A Florida law professor said, “… it’s kind of crazy and will likely only play well to the Republican base.”

But I am encouraged.  Although the best chance for permanent, broad reform is the development of a Good Government caucus, perhaps this reform can be jump-started via the bully pulpit of the presidency.  Perry is not likely to be the Republican nominee, but perhaps Romney will pick up on this issue as something that will give him a competitive advantage against Obama next fall.

Keep your fingers crossed.

November 10, 2011

Another debate; another Perry gaffe

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:41 pm
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For some reason, last night’s presidential debate on CNBC slid under my radar and I missed it.  My first notice of the debate was a slew of media reports headlined with Perry’s “Oops” moment.    According to most of those reports, the gaffe confirmed Perry as a laughingstock who was singularly unqualified to be considered for the office of the Presidency.

After watching videos of the gaffe, I concluded that the pundits were being exceedingly harsh on Perry.  His gaffe consisted of being able to recall only two of the three federal departments that he wanted to eliminate – the Commerce and Education Departments.  Despite casting about for an awkward minute or so, Perry couldn’t remember the Energy Department.

The important thing is that the videos revealed Perry handling his brain freeze with relatively good humor.  I think most Americans put more stock in how a person deals with the brain freeze than in the fact that he had one.

So, with the Perry’s brain freeze and Cain’s women, how does the Republican race look this morning?  According to Intrade.com:

  • Romney 71%
  • Gingrich 9.6%
  • Cain 5.7%
  • Paul 5.3%
  • Perry 4%
  • Huntsman 3%
  • Bachmann 1%

An interesting quality of Intrade.com is that it acts like the stock market.  The stock market doesn’t reflect the current state of the economy.  Rather, it reflects the best judgment of what the economy will be like in the future.  Similarly, the Intrade.com numbers don’t reflect the current candidate polling, but instead suggest what those polling numbers will look like in the future.  It has obviously built in a steep decline for Cain and Perry.  Gingrich is certainly in position to be the final anti-Romney candidate, and I suspect Mitt Romney is happy to see that.

As a pundit noted yesterday, Cain and Perry had the charisma to seriously challenge Romney.  Gingrich does not.

November 3, 2011

Rick Perry and negative campaigning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 6:44 pm
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“Cain Says Perry Is Orchestrating a Smear Campaign.”  That was a headline today in the on-line edition of the NY Times.  Don’t be surprised, Herman.  Rick Perry has a long-held reputation for negative campaigning in Texas.  In fact, his gubernatorial campaigns have been so over-the-top that I twice lodged protest votes in favor of his Democratic opponents because Perry’s ads were so dirty.

While listening to a TV talk show last night (I’ve started watching MSNBC almost as much as FOX), I heard one guest declare that Cain has no reason to complain about Perry’s alleged orchestration of this information.  Under what Marquess of Queensberry rules, the guest wondered, is a candidate supposed to ignore the fact that his CEO opponent was charged with sexual harassment, with at least one incident resulting in a five-figure settlement?  That made imminent sense, but for my edification I decided to look up the political rules regarding negative campaigning and smears.

According to Wikipedia, “negative campaigning” is trying to win an advantage by referring to negative aspects of an opponent or of a policy rather than emphasizing one’s own positive attributes or preferred policies, and a “smear campaign” is an intentional, premeditated effort to undermine an individual’s or group’s reputation, credibility, and character.  That sort of attack, while not noble or high-minded, doesn’t appear to be particularly base or improper.

But the Wikipedia article on smear campaigning later notes, “Smears often consist of ad hominem attacks in the form of unverifiable rumors and are often distortions, half-truths, or even outright lies; smear campaigns are often propagated by gossip spreading. Even when the facts behind
a smear are shown to lack proper foundation, the tactic is often effective because the target’s reputation is tarnished before the truth is known.”  This sub-set of smear campaigns is primarily responsible for giving the practice its unsavory odor, and I suggest that it makes sense to reserve the term “smear” for rumors, distortions, half-truths and outright lies.

So how much odor is generated by Perry’s alleged orchestration of the Cain revelations?  Not much, because Cain’s sexual-harassment past is not unverifiable rumors, distortions, half-truths, or outright lies.  Rather, it is a more vanilla-smelling negative campaigning that highlights the weaknesses of an opponent.  It is unfair to Perry to characterize that as a smear.

I am not, however, endorsing negative campaigning.  I think each voter needs to decide when candidates are too focused on tearing down their opponents instead of explaining what they stand for or will do.  Negative campaigning will end as soon as it becomes unsuccessful.  If more voters were like me, there would be less negative campaigning.

 

October 29, 2011

Rick Perry doesn’t like flip-floppers, especially old ones

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 1:46 pm
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Earlier this week, Rick Perry was interviewed on Bill O’Reilly’s The Factor.  A major part of the interviewed consisted of Perry attacking Romney for flip-flopping.  Although Perry might have a plethora of undesirable character traits, “beating around the bush” is not one of them.  If he’s of a mind to challenge you, his first inclination is to grab a 2×4 and then smack you across your forehead.

On the O’Reilly show, Perry was certainly of a mind to challenge Romney over flip-flopping:

  • You can’t be for banning guns and then all of a sudden you’re, you know, for the Second Amendment.  You can’t be for the issue of abortion, then you’re pro-life… I mean you can’t be on both sides of these issues.”

While Perry will never be guilty of eloquence, at least we know what he means.

Because Perry is so limited in his ability to communicate ideas, he seems drawn to rhetorical excess.  For example, because Perry can’t effectively communicate his opprobrium flip-flopping – “I mean you can’t be on both sides of these issues.” – he resorts to outlandish, over-the-top falsehoods.  In the O’Reilly interview, Perry asserted that Romney said the following about his history of flip-flopping:

  • In his own words, he says, listen, you know, I need to say whatever I need to say for whatever office I’m running for.”

This is obviously false, not mere hyperbole, and the fact that O’Reilly and the media have treated it like hyperbole is revealing.  It seems that every Republican presidential candidate except Romney is being encouraged to say outrageous things without being immediately challenged.  (Which reminds me to a lawyer’s strategy with depositions – i.e., encourage the deponent to say all sorts of stupid things during the deposition and then watch him squirm later when he has to defend those statements to a judge or jury.)

The O’Reilly interview contained at least one other example of an outrageous Perryism (i.e., Perry being Perry), and that was his expressed belief that old people like Romney shouldn’t have evolving political positions.  When O’Reilly asked whether a person’s opinions might change over time, Perry responded:

  • How do you change at the age of 50 or 60 positions on life, positions on guns, positions on traditional marriage?  I mean those aren’t minor issues, Bill. So to change those at the age of 50 or 60 tells you all you need to know about that.

I hate scripted responses, but unscripted doesn’t have to mean “shoot from the hip.”  Surely, Perry must understand that the thinking of people older the 30-35 continues to evolve.  As Mitt Romney has said, “In the private sector, if you don’t change your view when the facts change, well you’ll get fired for being stubborn and stupid.”

Which are you, Rick?

October 20, 2011

Illegal immigration and the 14th Amendment

Illegal immigration became a major factor in the 2012 Republican presidential contest because (a) Rick Perry became a surprise front-runner and (b) he was on record as authorizing in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.  Front-runner status as a Republican cannot co-exist with pro-illegal immigrant policies.  If you don’t believe me, ask the last two Republican standard-bearers, George W. Bush or John McCain.

Now that Perry has been knocked out of front-runner status, it remains to be seen if any other Republican candidate will dare to stake out a position that shows any empathy for illegal immigrants.  In the Las Vegas debate earlier this week, Rick Perry went on the offensive by telling an old story about Romney hiring some “illegals” for domestic help many years ago in Massachusetts.  Romney seemed to give a reasonable explanation, and post-debate the pundits declared that it was much ado about nothing.  Personally, however, I was struck by Perry’s tone in using the term “illegals.”  In making his charge against Romney, I thought Perry sounded like a redneck who didn’t consider “illegals” to be full-fledged human beings.  Later in the exchange, Romney sloppily used the term, which was unfortunate.  It reminded me of a congressional opponent of mine who said during a candidate forum in the border city of Del Rio that “America shouldn’t worry about mopping up the mess until we turn off the spigot.”  That is the tone of a bigot.  I don’t think Perry or Romney are bigots, but their tone in the middle of a hot debate can sound that way.

Throughout the various presidential debates, the immigration focus appears to have shifted away from the cliché about creating an impregnable border and toward the issue of eliminating magnets for illegal immigrants.  Romney continually mentions e-Verify as a magnet for illegal immigrants, and then he points to Perry’s in-state tuition as another type of magnet.  Other candidates mention various welfare benefits as magnets.

Las Vegas moderator Anderson Cooper tried to discuss another notorious magnet that has been overlooked in the debates up to now – i.e., birthright citizenship.  Hearst Newspapers described Cooper’s earnest attempt as follows: “Perry, meanwhile, found a discipline that had eluded him during the previous three debates. The governor stuck to the topics he wanted to address, side-stepping questions on birth-right citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants and uninsured Texas children. His refusal to discuss certain subjects raised the ire of moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN.”

  • “Let me ask the question of Gov. Perry: The 14th amendment allows anybody, a child of illegal immigrants born here is automatic an American citizen.  Should that change?” Cooper asked.
  • “Let me address Herman’s issue,” Perry responded.
  • Cooper said he’d rather have him answer the question.
  • “I understand that,” Perry retorted. “You get to ask the questions. I get to answer like I want to.”

Cooper went on to pose the same 14th-Amendment question to Bachmann and Santorum.  Bachmann seemed evasive, but ultimately said that, while birthright citizenship was wrong, its elimination could be effected by statutory enactment and did not require a constitutional amendment.  I have studied Bachmann’s argument, and although she may be right, I think she is wrong.  Santorum gave a “bleeding heart” response that suggested he would leave the law as it is.  I’ve previously stated that I have never heard a reasonable defense of birthright citizenship, and that remains true after listening to Santorum.

My hope is that moderators everywhere remember Rick Perry’s heavy-handedness in dealing with Anderson Cooper’s question and that they all resolve as a matter of moderator principle to not let Perry get away with stonewalling the question.  That means the birthright-baby question should be posed and posed and posed to Rick Perry (and Romney and Cain) until he answers it.

As pure coincidence, one of the lead columnists at the San Antonio Express-News wrote a heart-rending column yesterday on birthright citizenship.  Ricardo Pimentel wrote that he was ashamed of American immigration policy that forced a 13-year-old local girl to choose between living with foster parents in Texas or living with her Mexican mother and siblings in Mexico.  Of course, I am not the writer that Pimentel is.  He described the issue thusly – “What separates Angela from her biological family is U.S. policy that dictates that her mother may not legally live where her daughter’s best fortunes lie.”  If the NY Times ever loses Maureen Dowd as a columnist, they might want to consider Pimentel as a replacement.

Pimentel closed his column by revealing his disdain for the term “anchor babies”:

  • In some circles, she is called an “anchor baby,” her presence allegedly ensuring she is surrounded by undocumented family members. A laughable term in any case,
    but particularly so in Angela’s case.
  • The Smiths anticipate no compensation, but act as part of a ministry that emphasizes compassion. I am humbled by their action. And I am simultaneously ashamed of the choice that Angela and her family had to make.

Pimentel, who is new to San Antonio, is thoroughly reviled by his column’s readers, at least those who write comments in the on-line edition.  The comments attached to the on-line edition of this column are typical of those that he regularly receives.

This issue is not going away.  Yes, jobs and the economy are more important, but economic debate quickly becomes abstract and esoteric for most voters.  They would rather listen to and become mentally engaged in a debate on a subject that doesn’t require a college degree to understand.  Furthermore, the Republican debates are really just the preliminaries.  Eventually Barack Obama and the Republican candidate will be going toe-to-toe, but these preliminaries are a good place to find out who is ready for prime-time.

October 19, 2011

The Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas

Tonight I decided to watch the presidential debate while sitting on a friend’s patio.  Actually, Tuesday night is the night that I normally have drinks with a couple of friends, and I decided to maintain that routine rather than modify it because of the debate.

My Tuesday night drinking friends are football fans, so we typically drink and talk football.  Tonight we drank and listened and talked politics.  The transition was easy for one friend because he is a conservative talk-radio junkie, but the transition for the other was more difficult because he is an apathetic rust-belt type.

Our take-away from the evening is that Romney did excellent (an eight) while Perry did poorly (a three), but at least Perry exceeded expectations (a two).  Gingrich again
showed that he deserved to be in the first tier, but his baggage precluded it.  Santorum (the Boy Scout), Bachmann (the priss), and Paul (the ideologue) cluttered the stage.  Herman Cain again showed that he is the only serious alternative to Romney.

The issue that most frustrated us was “birthright citizenhsip.”  Finally, after all these debates, some candidates were asked to opine.  Unfortunately, the first candidate asked the question chose to specifically state that he was going to ignore the problematic question and go back to answer a question for which he had prepared a mini-speech.  When Anderson Cooper tried to bring Perry back to the problematic question, Perry told Cooper to go pound salt because he was going to use his response time however he wanted.

That’s the first time I have heard a candidate blow-off a question so directly.  Cooper, thinking on his feet, tried to pull Perry back, but he was totally ineffective.  I suspect in the future, moderators will develop a more compelling response.

Following Perry’s nonresponse, Cooper attempted unsuccessfully to get Santorum and Bachmann to answer the question.  Both fudged.  If anything, this stonewalling should motivate future moderators to redouble their efforts to get the Republican candidates to indicate whether the 14th Amendment should be amended to prevent birthright citizenship (anchor babies).

I’ll be watching.

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