Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Happy Hour

See my dissection of the rest of the GOP debate at Part One (Primetime) of this series. See also my answers to the Happy Hour debate questions in Part Three, and the Primetime questions in Part Four.

Unlike the later debate, the format of the Happy Hour debate was much more traditional, giving each candidate a minute, rather than thirty seconds, to reply to each question, and asking more of your standard policy fare. In short, it was somewhat boring, as you can see yourself from the transcript, or any video that Fox has copyrighted down yet.

The traditional debate, like many things in our society, is a throwback to Ancient Greece. If we actually wanted to judge the comparative merits of a candidates' plans, we'd let them communicate in writing, with recourse to citations. The whole idea of debating is a leftover from an earlier time when paper was expensive and literacy rare. As such this, like many debates, suffers from being a rhetorical contest that somehow bamboozles trained politicians into thinking its dialectical.

As a result of this, I can't rank the early crowd in the same way I ranked the 9:00 debate. Everyone spoke in the same wooden political fashion that they have since the truly talented American orators went to face off with their Athenian forebears in Limbo. Any logical statements made were couched in the buried assumptions that politicians so love, and thus will only be appreciated by those who share those biases. Yours may be completely different than mine, and thus you may find my list to be ridiculous. That's fine.

As nobody stood stylistically above or below the rest, I really have no recourse but to evaluate these candidates primarily on the issues. As I stand firmly miles away from the Overton window of American politics, can hardly be seen as in away representative of the opinions of the American voter. I'll try to restrict myself to the things that really ticked me off.
1) Santorum

In my view, the winner of the Kids Table debate was Senator Rick Santorum. He had a capable, if not stunning presentation, and didn't say too many outrageously dumb things. Santorum is a good speaker, if a somewhat conventional one. He speaks with a nice even tone, and his thoughts follow logical progressions. I'd put him in 4th place among the entire Republican slate based on his debate performance: he didn't show any particular spark, as Dr. Carson did, but he seemed a bit less rehearsed and artificial than Senator Rubio. With some work, and a willingness to take some risks in his self-presentation, Santorum might be ready for a bigger stage.

In fact, he only said one dumb thing the entire night:
"[My immigration plan]says that after 35 million people have come here over the last 20 years, almost all of whom are unskilled workers, flattening wages, creating horrible opportunity -- a lack of opportunities for unskilled workers, we're going to do something about reducing the level of immigration by 25 percent."

Only 25% Senator Santorum? When the actual unemployment rate, including discouraged non-job seekers and the severely underemployed is probably close to that percentage of actual citizens? Why do you think that's going to be enough?

The sad thing is, Santorum is the best we have on immigration. That's right, suggesting that we marginally reduce the flow of job stealers into our increasingly underemployed country is a radical position taken by one man, and one man only. Even Trump refuses to go so far, although he redeems himself by being honest about the other reasons the American people don't want immigration.

I want more from Santorum, but he's certainly better than most. Take that as you will.

2) Jindal

I like Governor Jindal. Really I do. I hope that the criticism I make here is taken as a tough-love effort to get him ready for the prime time rather than gratuitous denunciation. Remember folks, I still rank him at number two...

Jindal needs to make faster, fuller hand motions. The slow, soft ones he's making now make him seem tentative. Unlike a few candidates I could mention, the tenor and tone of his voice are masculine enough, if a bit evocative of Kermit the frog, but a little time with a voice coach should be enough to give him the gravitas he'll need to bring his points home. His real weakness comes from his slow, soft, dainty hand motions. He needs to enlarge, speed up, and sterngthen his body language to convey more power. This is a persuasive technique that predates humans, used by the likes of pufferfish, porcupines, and other animals that inflate themselves to look like more of a threat. Like Senator Cruz, Governor Jindal is too good of a candidate to be held back by easily fixed and readily apparent cosmetic issues.

Additionally, he needs to get over the idea of being liked, or respectable if he wants to be respected. Govenor Jindal, you don't seem tough by saying "We've got a president who cannot bring himself to say the words "radical Islamic terrorism." You put more qualifiers in that sentence than you'd need to pass to reach the Olympic finals. Trump is winning because he calls things as they are: if you want to say "Islam" say Islam. Otherwise, you are showing no more bravery than the President.

Newsflash, the Muslims know of whom you're speaking, no matter how hard you try to hide it. They aren't voting for you anyway. While the Counter-Jihad can also parse your language, and probably will be enheartened even by a bowdlerised condemnation of the Religion of Pieces, no one who doesn't already run in such circles will care enough to figure it out. You need to not only sell your position, but the relevance of the issue itself. Next time, try a dramatic reading of Chesterton's Lepanto.


Governor Perry does seem somewhat masculine, in a perma-flustered kind of way. Given the general gormlessness of the Gormless Old Party, this actually puts him somewhere in the midpoint of the field. Perry's problem, like Senator Paul, is his inability to channel this masculinity constructively. 

Everyone who looks at Perry knows he can do more pullups than Trump. Pullups are not the SI unit of masculinity though: competence and confidence are. A winner, like Trump, knows he can win, his words to this extent are merely an aknowledgement of the truth. This is very different that trying to convince others that you can win, which is only done by those who are uncertain. If Perry wants to unseat Trump, he needs to gain that certainty, rather than pretend it.

Perry comes from the managerial school of Republican politics, one with which I am singularly unimpressed. A good example of this comes from his response to the immigration question, where he denigrates the response of Senator Santorum by suggesting that he doesn't understand the technologies required to stop illegal immigration.

No Governor Perry, you don't need your long list of technologies to stop invaders. The Germans stopped the Maygars with pointy sticks and the will to fight. Why can't America do the same? The Great Wall of China, on the other hand, one of the greatest technological achievements of the ancient world, is famous for having amounted to little more than a tourist attraction. Countries without the will to defend themselves get invaded. Others don't. It's that simple.

4) Fiorina

I hate to put the most overrated candidate in the Happy Hour debate this high, but I really have no other choice. The sheer amount of time that the moderators spent on her gives her top of mind presence at the very least, and when you're facing as weak a field as the Republicans have put forward here, that really is enough to be midlist at least.

Her much-lauded line about nobody but Mr. Trump getting a call from President Clinton to inaugurate their candidacy was not that well delivered. If Mrs. Fiorina wishes to make humor a mainstay of her campaign, she needs to work on her comedic timing. You can't tell a joke at a steady pace, it has to have a rhythm.

Mrs. Fiorina's Middle East plan would be a disaster. As a Republican Presidential candidate, that, of course, goes without saying. What needs to be said is how uniquely shortsighted it is.

  1. The Kurds are not Arabs. 
  2. If we armed them, the Turks would be pissed. 
  3. The Turks are in NATO.
  4. NATO, ostensibly, is an organization of American allies.
  5. Q.E.D. pissing off the Turks is not something to be done without thought.
Now your thoughts on the value of an alliance with the increasingly radicalized Turks may vary. (Full disclosure, I found Istanbul to be a lovely city filled with friendly people and thus may be slightly biased) However, tossing aside allies unthinkingly is what brought down the Third Reich. Even if you are merely using someone, make sure that you are done with them, and, more importantly, that they can't be used against you before you toss them away.

Another foolish statement follows:

"We have been debating right here the core difference between conservatism and progressivism.
Conservatives, I am a conservative because I believe no one of us is any better than any other one of us. Every one of us is gifted by God, whether it is those poor babies being picked over or it's someone whose life is tangled up in a web of dependence.
Progressives don't believe that. They believe some are smarter than others, some are better than others, so some are going to need to take care of others." 
Fiorina has this almost exactly turned around. She, like many Republicans these days, who laud MLK and JFK, wants to be more liberal than the liberals. It is a simple face of life that some people are better than others. Stronger. Smarter. Next time you doubt this, try getting a medical exam from some random guy you meet on the street. A true Conservative accepts these facts and works with them to better the world as it is. A Progressive, as Mrs. Fiorina has shown herself to be, ignores this and appeals to the world as she wants it to be. This is a flaw that we can no longer accept in our President.

5) Gilmore

Governor Gilmore didn't seem to get much time to shine in this debate. However, this also means he didn't get much time to strike out. I can't think of anything too bad that he said, save for his plan for "a Middle East NATO." The Arabs can't fully cooperate within their countries, and he wants to try and build an even larger structure? The Middle East is based on tribes. Trying to work on a higher organizational level than that is a plan inherently doomed to failure.

6) Pataki

These last two places were a hard call. Governor Pataki wins his participation ribbon based purely on his stronger voice and rakish half-grin. But this means little when the Governor makes statements liek this:
"I'm a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception. But as Bill said earlier, Roe v. Wade, it's has been the law for 42 years, and I don't think we should continue to try to change it." 
So murder stops being murder after 42 years. I see... So you're saying that if Hitler could have held on for three more decades, the Holocaust and the planned genocide of the Slavs would be perfectly justifiable, and everyone should just move on and look the other way when they pass the local death camp.

Governor Pataki, I'm going to take you for your word that you don't want to put American lives at risk. See my response to Senator Graham which follows. In short, however, it is this: close the border, cancel visas, enjoy the silence.

7) Graham

I find it unfathomable that given his time and place in the American political system that Senator Graham has not gotten himself a voice coach yet. This is a necessity for him. He will never win without one.

On to more substantive issues. Has Senator Graham looked at a map recently? "Syria is becoming a perfect platform to strike our nation"? Hitler couldn't invade England across the Channel, and the Allies barely could pull it off the other way. Might as well say that Syria is becoming a perfect platform to attack the moon!

Additionally, while Graham gets points for understanding the inherent limitations of both airpower and the Arab state, striking ISIS in the Middle East isn't the only way to stop them from striking us here. If we don't import Muslims, ISIS can't strike us. It's as simple as that.

It's weird to see that Senator Graham really does get some fundamental things that the other candidates don't, when he then uses that knowledge to come up with ludicrous conclusions. His bloodlust for a Middle East war is worthy of a Viking Berserker. What did American troops ever do to him that he wants them killed so bad?


Nobody in this debate can count to two...

Next time, as our Republican debate coverage concludes, I, Pravda Zvíťazí, will answer each and every debate question, and erase any remaining doubt in your minds that I would be completely unelectable for any political office established after the Enlightenment. Stay tuned!


  1. Governor Jindal pretty much has no chance of winning this time around. It's unfortunate, but maybe in 4 or 8 years he will.

    I had no idea that the Great Wall of China was ineffective as a wall. I guess that makes sense, and I'd assume the modern day wall with Mexico could be partially based on networked night-vision cameras with software to filter out animals and highlight human shapes. Technology! Yes!

    Sidenote: I once heard that more illegal immigrants (mostly Asian) come through from Canada than from Mexico. I have no idea if it's true or not. It's probably not. But I'll restate it as certain fact the same way my 10th grade history teacher did.

    Sidenote to the sidenote: A greek-american friend recently met a Russian working as a stripper in New Jersey who flew to Seattle (on an expired visa) to receive a driver's license despite being an illegal (on account of visa-overstay) immigrant. She then flew back again without the TSA asking to see her visa, despite having a Russian passport.

    Sidenote to a sidenote to a sidenote: they checked my visa constantly for internal domestic travel when I was an American in Russia.

    I had barely barely heard the name "Governor Gilmore" before reading this. Which means most of America has also not heard of him. And he's going the lose. Maybe, MAYBE the people of his own state know who he is.

    "Syria is becoming a perfect platform to strike our nation"
    I think he is conflating Israel and the USA, as everyone in politics does. Either that or he is thinking of our middle east military bases. In terms of the actual continental USA, pretty much none of these guys are a threat unless they have ICBMs. Which raises the question about why we need to be involved in a lot of it.

    But the real question is what do you think of Trump's comment to "take the oil"?

    1. Our government uses war the same way every government has since governments existed. 1)To kill off the excess male population 2)To secure resources against its rivals. We're in the Middle East to protect oil and kill Southern Baptists.

      And I don't know what Trump may mean by "taking the oil" but if its what I suspect it is, the Chinese have been doing it for a while now.

  2. You could use expensive, and likely only moderately effective technology to try and protect the border, that's true. You could buy it from China, and let them fill it with backdoors they can exploit at their whim. OR you could just build a physical wall, putting the low-skill American workers who were most harmed by the Mexican onslaught in the first place to work, and ensuring that no one crosses without going through a lot of effort. Then you can use technology to search for tunnels if you need to fill out your budget this year.

    You might wonder how the Great Wall of America would be more effective than the Great Wall of China. The answer is practice. Presumably we'd ask our "bestest buddy ever and number one ally who we must defend at all costs" Israel how they do it, seeing as how they have a working wall that slashed incidences of terrorism in their country.

    Your 10th grade history teacher is full of shit. There'd have to be tens of millions of Asians hiding somewhere that nobody has noticed. While I'm sure that there are tons on the West Coast, that's likely more the result of hundreds of years of legal immigration, not infiltration through Canada.

    Yeah, I'd never heard of Gov. Gilmore before either. And I had trouble distinguishing him from Gov. Pataki on screen, at least until I picked up on the grin thing. You have to start somewhere though: getting the Republican nomination has traditionally been based on sticking around through enough electoral cycles that everyone is convinced it's your "turn." The hard limit on human lifespan is 120, so good luck, I guess.

    1. I'm not sure what the total cost of an electronic fence would be versus a physical one- it could potentially be less. And any critical components could probably be sourced from South Korea or domestically if that were a concern. It wouldn't employ a gazillion low cost laborers though, that's true.

      I believe Israel does things like carefully comb sand between a double-fence, that provides immediate clues if anyone jumps it. These types of things probably work well on a country which is the size of New Jersey. I don't think border patrol would properly maintain their sand-garden-fence all along the Texas border.


    2. Why use an electric fence when a physical one is far less apt to fail, and likely harder to breach? Good point about Israel's size, but America also has a good deal more people to staff the fence, as well as well armed ranchers and farmers just begging to be deputized. Technology is not always the solution.

    3. I saw a video many years ago... It wasn't this exact one but same general idea:


      And that's in a semi-populated area of California/Mexico and teenagers screwing around. Now imagine middle of nowhere Texas and people who already made it from Guatemala to the final stretch - they're not going to turn around and go back because of a normal fence.

      I don't know what the exact issues are with electrifying fences is, but it's not done in California so presumably there's some reason (maybe animals would trigger it all the time or something).

    4. Design it differently, make it concave, or tilt it out at an angle. Also make it wavy so ladders won't be hold solidly. Or just do what the Israelis do and position snipers...

    5. When the wall is built I shall attempt to jump it and post the results to this blog.

    6. As well you should. Imagine the page views if you succeed!