Monthly Archives: March 2016

Live-Blogging the Univision Democratic Presidential Debate

10:54 pm: Secretary Clinton gives her usual closing message: She wants to empower Americans to pursue their own ambitions.  Senator Sanders gives his usual closing message: .1% of Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom 90% of Americans; as Americans have worked longer hours for lower wages over the past generation, 58% of post-recession wealth gains have gone to the wealthiest 1% of Americans.  He asks whether we can be OK with this.  His message of grim portents and (for lack of a better term) class conflict resonates with at least half of this young debate crowd; the generational divide persists, with the under-30 crowd seeming to swoon for the septugenarian Socialist from Vermont.

10:41 pm: A humorous video showing Bernie Sanders in an interview in 1985 (Sanders has the same mannerisms, voice, disheveled hair and frumpled clothing, but he has more hair and it’s darker.  This video looks like a joke video that he just filmed with a flat wig.)  Sanders says it’s understandable that the Cuban people didn’t rally to the cause of anti-Castro revolutionaries during the Bay of Pigs invasion, as Fidel Castro provided so much for the Cuban people.  This got some boos from some in the audience, but it seems clear to me that Sanders’ statement was taken out of context; Sanders asserts that he was simply speaking against our often-presumptuous resort to regime change in dealing with unfriendly governments.

Secretary Clinton sees another opening, and attacks Sanders on the grounds that he has incidentally defended the Castros, whom are dictators; big applause.  It seems much of the anti-Castro sentiment in South Florida remains, or at least it is well-represented at the audience at this debate.

10:32 pm: Senator Sanders is asked how he could pass new legislation to deal with global warming when most Republicans deny that global warming is human created, and they currentky control Congress.  Sanders repeats his wearisome call for a “political revolution.”  This call is wearisome because Senator Sanders would need to rally Democrats to win seats in predominantly-Republican Congressional Districts where people are not likely to be hungry for much higher tax rates for top income and capital gains margins.  This is not very plausible to me, as these parts of the country are not just waiting to fall into the Democratic column for a more-extreme Democratic messenger.

10:24 pm: Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton debate their usual terms on health care reform: Secretary Clinton wants to reform President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to add any regulatory changes and funding increases necessary to institute full insurance of the public; Senator Sanders renews his call for single-payer health insurance, affirming his support for the ACA under the circumstances but noting that millions of Americans still don’t have health care expense coverage and that many Americans still aren’t satisfied with their health care options.

10:12 pm: Senator Sanders clarifies that he hasn’t promised to provide everyone in America paid college tuition; he proposes to provide fully covered tuition at State universities to any student with basic qualifying grades to continue their education.

10:08 pm: Secretary Clinton notes that Florida “has more to lose than any other State” from global warming.  This depends somewhat on how you define “the most to lose”; the State with the lowest highest point actually isn’t Florida but Delaware.

10:00 pm: Secretary Clinton gets a question about Benghazi, to loud and sustained boos from the crowd who don’t want to hear the sensationalized “scandal” surrounding the terrorist attack on the US consulate there 1 more time.  Secretary Clinton addresses the fact that a family member of one of the 4 Americans killed in that attack alleges that she and the rest of the Obama Administration “lied” to her; she expresses sympathy for the woman’s loss but insists that she is wrong.  She notes that a captured Libyan militant connected to Ansar al-Sharia had claimed that the Benghazi attack was am organized terrorist attack, but that it was launched in response to a provocative anti-Islam video filmed in the United States, as had been initially claimed.

Senator Sanders refuses to engage the subject of whether Secretary Clinton lied or misled the public on the matter of the Benghazi attacks.  He does however remind those assembled that he opposes foreign military intervention, once again conflating the Iraq War with our involvement in the Libyan revolution which overthrew Colonel Moammar Gaddafi.  There is obviously a lot at stake in electing a President who sees the value of foreign intervention in cases where a lot of lives can be saved.  Senator Sanders doesn’t see the issue this way, but I don’t agree with his simplistic claim that Secretary Clinton, who has real foreign policy experience and credentials, is tainted by words of respect from Henry Kissinger.  Hillary Clinton has a long record of advocating foreign interventions to end the war crimes of others, including in Libya; these have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in sum, benefits which aren’t acknowledged by a risk-averse public.

9:54 pm: Secretary Clinton is asked about a common perception that she is untrustworthy.  She says she can stand on her record and advocacy of social justice and the material improvement of people’s lives, but she says something I find more-interesting: “I think you can see that I’m not a natural politician, like my husband or President Obama.”  I’m glad that I’ve finally heard Secretary Clinton say that her problem is one of connection with the voters as much as anything.

Senator Sanders says that Secretary Clinton has trust issues in part because of her top-dollar speeches to Goldman Sachs.  He says that “any speech that commands that kind of figure must be pretty good,” and “it should be released to the public.”  He says Secretary Clinton should be willing to disclose the text of her speaking engagements to to the public.

9:50 pm: Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton both promise that they will make a policy of reuniting resident families that are divided by members that have been separated by the deportation of members who are illegal immigrants.  This also represents an extraordinary change in Democratic Party campaign positioning, though it’s also true that back in 1980, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush both spoke in the Republican Presidential Primary Debate about doing something humane and compassionate for illegal immigrants already in the country, and that in 1986 President Reagan granted 3 million of them amnesty.

9:36 pm: Secretary Clinton is asked if she would continue President Obama’s record number of deportations if she became President.  She says that she would only deport violent criminals and terrorists but not just illegal immigrants as such.  (What a change the Democratic Party has undergone; deportation is overused, period, and we don’t have to have executive orders not to deport people as we pursue immigration reform.  I only feel apprehension about this position because I wouldn’t underestimate how long a Republican Congress could stall on immigration reform, and a Republican President would have more trouble with reversing an executive order than with resuming the enforcement of a policy.)

9:34 pm: In Univision’s poll of Hispanic likely voters, their top 3 issues of concern are

1.) Government ethics,

2.) Racial issues, and

3.) The economy.

9:16 pm-9:28 pm: Secretary Clinton is asked about immigration reform.  She affirms her support for legislative changes that would allow illegal immigrants in the United States to demonstrate that they are working, pay back taxes and apply for citizenship.  She notes that Senator Sanders opposed the 2007 immigration reform.  (She doesn’t mention that Senator Sanders did vote for the more widely-supported 2013 comprehensive immigration reform proposal.)

Clinton can be an unfair debater.  When Senator Sanders gets asked his version of the immigration reform question, the moderator actually herself clarifies that he had previously said he couldn’t support the 2007 immigration reform bill because it contained “near-slave-like provisions” for agricultural guest workers.  The Univision moderator then shares a clip from Lou Dobbs’ old program (uh-oh) on which Senator Sanders said in 2007 that illegal immigrants were depressing domestic wages!  He offers no nuanced provision for allowing guest workers to stay with better wage provisions.  He defends himself convincingly, saying that his reservations with the 2007 bill pertained entirely to the wage burdens normalized upon illegal immigrants working in agriculture through the old bill.

Clinton hits Sanders on this again, citing Senator Kennedy and La Raza as other supporters of the 2007 immigration reform.  Sanders repeats his previous defense, and notes that Secretary Clinton opposed the trend of unaccompanied minors entering the country on foot that gained prominence in 2014; Secretary Clinton said she wasn’t against giving the minors grants of asylum, but only against their dangerous solo treks across Central America.

9:12 pm: Secretary Clinton gets a question about her conduct of State Department emails through her private email account.  When asked if she may be indicted for the use of her private email account to conduct State Department business, she gruffly laughs the question off and says won’t dignify it with an answer.  Senator Sanders is asked the same question, and he says that there is a legitimate investigative process that should be left to pay itself out, and steers the conversation back to the collapsing middle class, implying that this issue is a sideshow.

I do appreciate Senator Sanders’ sense of fair play.

9:10 pm: Senator Sanders gives a similar appeal to what he ordinarily does in these debates and most campaign events: We have to uproot the entrenched corporate and financial power in government, and we need to address global climate change.

9:08 pm: Secretary Clinton has attuned her message to the Univision television audience: We need to inhibit the corporate offshoring of work and profits.  We need comprehensive immigration reform.


Live-Blogging the Flint, Michigan Democratic Presidential Primary Debate

The Democratic Presidential Primary has come together much more-quickly than the Republican Presidential Primary; Hillary Clinton’s nomination by her party is now almost a fait accompli.  But Bernie Sanders can still contribute much to the narrative of this Presidential Election, particularly in an old industrial city as troubled as Flint.

9:51 pm: Donald Trump has expressed an eagerness to run against Secretary Clinton, and has promised to talk-up her email non-scandal constantly.  Clinton quips that the only Presidential candidate who has gotten more votes than Donald Trump is her!  Hah!  She squarely contrasts herself from Trump, who she calls “bigoted.”  (That’s reasonable.)  She offers national healing as the theme of her campaign; I wish her luck with her message of rapprochement and greater mutual understanding between Americans in the face of the Republican noise machine.

Anderson Cooper notes that Trump has called Sanders a COMMUNIST!  How do you respond to the charge, sir?!  Sanders says that “That was one of the nice things that Donald Trump called me.”  Sanders notes that he fares better against Donald Trump in polling than Clinton does.  I wish him luck maintaining his good reputation in the face of the Republican noise machine.

9:44 pm: Senator Sanders repeats his popular and in many ways central campaign theme: He is almost unique in refusing to accept corporate and soft-money campaign contributions, the scope in modern politics of which attests to the access that major corporations and the rich pay to get.  Overturning Citizens United, either at the Supreme Court or by Amendment, is a major priority.  Secretary Clinton ought to say more about campaign finance reform in her own time and allay some people’s misgivings.

9:37 pm: Are you in favor of hydraulic fracturing as a means of extracting oil and gas?

Secretary Clinton: Yes, if wanted by the State and local communities in question, and subject to full environmental review and the best available geographical surveying, and with proper financial benefits from fracking going to the States and communities providing that resource.

Senator Sanders: No.

Are you sure?  A lot of Democratic Governors favor some fracking in n their States; are you saying they’re wrong?

Sanders: Yes.

A President Sanders really would be rough on the economy: Huge tax increases, very step spending increases, massive new tariffs on imports, new financial transactions taxes and far less domestic resource-extraction…Has anyone calculated the net burden all of this would impose on the economy?  It would be a big drag.

9:26 pm: Secretary Clinton gets the question first: What can be done to make public schools better-supported and more-accountable to their communities?  I don’t have much time to write on this one: The upshot is that Clinton was commendably wonky in response to this question by focusing on particular mechanisms for providing resources for public schools (also, she is hostile to Michigan’s Emergency Financial Managers), but she is reticent to engage the question of whether teacher’s unions protect bad teachers in practice.  She notes that teachers are not usually acknowledged for the important role they play in our society.

Senator Sanders resorts to his promise of free college!  Sometimes he is courageous in his advocacy, and sometimes it highlights when he is a little bit off of his policy depth.

9:14 pm: Don Lemon is really putting Secretary Clinton through her paces!  He asks her about her use of the term “super-predators” in the 1990s; an activist heckled her at a private gathering for making what she called a racially-coded attack.  Clinton said that she had used the term in reference to drug smugglers and other organized criminals, and that it was a mistake.

The Liberal Ironist finds it ironic that as reliable and effective of a Democrat as Hillary Clinton has spent the better part of this Presidential Primary having to demonstrate that she isn’t secretly a Republican; isn’t it enough that she isn’t acting like a maniac right now?

In response to a question about what his racial blind spots may be, Senator Sanders notes his surprise that, in the mid-1990s, a Black Congressman couldn’t get a cab driver in n Washington, DC to stop to give him a ride.

Both of these candidates seem to recognize that their rules as President will be to try to better-serve the needs of people whose experiences are different from theirs; right now, the Republican Presidential candidates are mostly straining to make their voters identify with them personally, and often against other Americans.  The Democratic Party is trying to transcend tribal loyalties while the Republican Party seems to be trying to reinforce them.

9:08 pm: Senator Sanders is asked by a Black debate audience member about experiences he has had with other ethnic cultures in the United States.  He knocks this one out of the park.

Sanders speaks of his work to integrate University of Chicago student housing in the early 1960s, his arrest during a protest action while advocating for integration of Chicago public schools a year later, and his 1963 participation in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington.

Sanders finally got that one out there: He matched with Dr. King.

Secretary Clinton notes that she was 14 years old at the time, but she is able to point to her interest in and awareness of Dr. King at that time; not bad for a kid growing up in a White neighborhood.

9:00 pm: Don Lemon asks Secretary Clinton a question about criminal justice reform: President Clinton’s 1994 crime bill was strongly supported by then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, which President Clinton has since said had regrettable policy impacts on minority communities: “Why should we count on you to get it right now?”

Secretary Clinton says that Senator Sanders voted for the bill as well, and that there was good and bad in the 1994 crime bill, and that the systemic racism in the criminal justice system is now much easier to document, and that it now needs to be comprehensively addressed in policy.

Senator Sanders particularly notes that the 1994 crime bill contained a mix of good and bad; he notes his support for the violence against women provisions and the assault weapons ban, as did Secretary Clinton.  Both have noted the omnibus and multifaceted nature of this crime bill; the issue is a wash.

8:50 pm: A Michigander in the audience asks an uncomfortable but serious question: There have been at least 42 mass shootings in the United States in the first 2 months and week of 2016; the man has a daughter who was shot and seriously wounded by a mass shooter in Michigan who had no known mental health issues and no criminal background.  He wants to hear what each candidate will do about gun violence that doesn’t just involve better mental health care and gun background checks.

Secretary Clinton is eager to discuss this, and she starts by mentioning background checks–close the gun show loophole, make background checks instant, maintain waiting periods.  She also calls for statutory change to allow lawsuits against gun manufacturers and gun dealers for their potentially enabling role in gun violence.

Senator Sanders notes that he has a lifetime D- rating from the NRA, but he argues that gun manufacturers should be indemnified against some forms of lawsuit because “what you are proposing is the end of gun manufacturing in America.”

Clinton sees an opportunity for a major attack on Sanders’ air of incorruptibility; she calls the combination of profits and indemnity for fun manufactures Sanders’ blind spot on the issue of corporate greed.

8:37 pm: Secretary Clinton speaks in favor of the U.S. Export-Import Bank as a way of promoting U.S. exports through a more-liberalized U.S. trade policy.

Moderator Anderson Cooper notes that the Export-Import Bank mostly gives loans to American small businesses; Senator Sanders notes that about 75% of the loans have been extended to major corporations!  Cooper notes that Sanders is right about this; Clinton responds that some U.S. corporations are a major strategic, economic, and yes, employment interest.  She notes that European states heavily subsidize Airbus and that our government should take action to make Boeing a competitive producer.

Sanders responds that these countries also spend money on universal health care; Clinton counters that the Affordable Care Act has insured 90% of Americans already, and provides the needed infrastructure for universal health care already and should be improved and expanded.

8:26 pm: Secretary Clinton attacks Senator Sanders for not supporting the bailout of Detroit; Sanders in response bitterly attacks Clinton for bailing-out Wall Street.  Sanders expresses outrage that working-class taxpayers have to bail-out the millionaires and billionaires of Wall Street and Detroit.  (Actually, it was mostly wealthy taxpayers who had to pay into those bailouts through Federal income tax, but point taken.)  Anyway, Sanders very deftly evades discussing his disengagement from President Obama’s successful bailout and restructuring of Detroit; even by shifting the focus to Wall Street, he doesn’t seem to win this one with the crowd.

8:24 pm: Sanders tries to put Flint’s troubles on Secretary Clinton, saying that past U.S. free trade agreements have been a disaster for the American middle class; that would mark a foreign policy sea-change and a major increase in the cost of consumer goods, but a zero-sum view of international trade is a keystone to Sanders’ campaign.

8:11 pm-8:18 pm: There is a long discussion about who is responsible for Flint’s exposure to lead-poisoned water.  The Flint City Council voted to obtain water from the Flint River rather than the safer supply from the City of Detroit, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality overlooked growing evidence of lead poisoning, the State Emergency Financial Manager for Flint appointed by Governor Snyder rejected a City Council resolution to get water from Detroit again, and the Federal EPA rejected outside calls to inspect Flint’s water supply.  Both candidates call for an investigation; the usually fiery Sanders says that he is not qualified to determine whether a criminal act has been committed, and says a full Federal investigation should make that determination.

Sanders is the ideological candidate in the Democratic Party: He does not call for a witch hunt or invoke a conspiracy theory, and no one in the audience boos him for not calling for heads to roll on little information.  This was an informative exchange about real accountability; that would make this a Democratic Primary Debate.

8:10 pm: Senator Sanders gets a question from Anderson Cooper about whether government can be trusted to clean Flint’s water since this represents a failure of public goods provision by government; he gets cheers from the debate audience for ironically suggesting that the corporations that poisoned the Flint River, shipped thousands of jobs out of the country, or wrecked the economy with risky speculation in the last decade could take responsibility for maintaining clean drinking water for Flint.  Government needs to have the resources and oversight to do its job, not be dismantled further; the layer approach has been tried and has been a disaster.

8:06 pm: There is a question about what the candidates will do to impose accountability and improve Flint’s water quality.  Clinton says that the State as lead environmental agency and financial receiver for cash-strapped Flint should pay much of the cost to repair Flint’s water infrastructure; Senator Sanders goes further and seems to “win” the v question for arguing that the Federal Government should proactively step in in the case of such a disaster.  I for one like the idea of the Federal Government imposing accountability on the State of Michigan for failing to do so, which seems to have been Clinton’s emphasis.

8:04 pm: …It was actually Secretary Clinton’s request that led to the hosting of this CNN debate in Flint.  Clinton came-out on this message first.  She starts her opening statement with “amen to that,” to everything that Sanders initially said.  Both candidates have called on Governor Snyder, a Republican, to resign; Michiganders seem to want Snyder to stay on to fix Flint’s severe water quality problems, though they do consider him accountable if not responsible.

8:02 pm: “What is happening in Flint is happening to a lesser extent throughout this county…”  In his opening statement, Senator Sanders juxtaposes the teeming population of American billionaires with tens of millions of struggling American families that used to be considered middle class.  A hollowing manufacturing sector, crumbling infrastructure, an ancien regime of the super-rich?  That sounds like a perfect setting for Sanders’ campaign message…

Live-Blogging the March 3, 2016 FOX News Republican Presidential Debate

Congratulations, Republican Party, you pretty-much get Donald Trump for a Presidential candidate.  Why am I even covering this?  Well, here it is…

10:52 pm: Senator Rubio will support Trump if he is the Republican nominee; the Republicans must beat the Socialist or the dishonorable criminal.

Senator Cruz will support Trump if he is the Republican nominee, because he promised he would, and just ask Texas where he won the Republican Presidential Primary because he is a man of his word, and by the grace of God he will keep his word when he is President!

Governor Kasich will support Trump if he is the Republican nominee (he says with slight discomfort), but he still thinks that he will be the Republican Presidential nominee.

Donald Trump will support any of the other 3 men onstage if they are the Republican Presidential nominee, though they should be grateful because he deserves all of the credit for bringing “millions and millions of people” into the Republican Party.

OK, that is where I leave you tonight.  If you’ve watched any of these near-continuous debates before now, you’ve heard the Republican candidates’ closing statements before.  The claim I want to leave you with is Donald Trump’s claim to have brought new people into a growing Republican Party.  Donald Trump is expanding the Republican Party with all of his…put-downs and swaggering promises: That is an empirical claim.  Shall we let November settle the issue?

10:45 pm: Hey, North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un has said he wants his country’s nuclear weapons ready to launch at a moment’s notice.  Don’t worry, we’ll get back to what this debate is really about now.

10:38 pm: Trump is asked if he thinks there should be any restrictions on firearms access; he doesn’t support any.  (He won’t let any of the Republican Presidential candidates outflank him on the right on guns.)  He returns to a talking point he has made many times before, that the San Bernardino terrorists wouldn’t have been able to kill so many people if more of the employees of the targeted workplace had been armed.  More guns in the workplace!  We need to be safe!

It’s amazing how many workplaces in other countries are free of gun violence without armed employees in them…

10:36 pm: Senator Rubio is asked about Justice Antonin Scalia’s statement that the 2nd Amendment guarantees a personal right to ownership and bearing of firearms, but does not preclude a variety of regulations on the purchase and possession of firearms.  The Senator is asked what restrictions on gun purchases and ownership are tolerable.

The Senator’s answer?  “As few as possible.”  He insists that gun control just doesn’t work because criminals won’t follow the law.  He keeps repeating 25-year-old Republican talking points, but his considerable qualities of communication have gone off-message now.  But there’s always time to talk about unrestricted access to firearms.

10:30 pm: Senator Cruz attributes the decline of the City of Detroit to “DECADES of failed left-wing policies.”  A right-wing lawyer turned Tea Party Senator hopes to rise to the Presidency; unlike Governor Kasich, he can’t talk about what he has done, but he can promise to fight the vague attribution of decades of failed left-wing policies.  I wonder what happens when a man who is constantly feeding-off of confrontation actually finds himself in executive office, with no one else to attribute as a big heavy without having weakness imputed to him.

Oh, that’s right–Season 4 of House of Cards drops tomorrow!

10:26 pm: Governor Kasich speaks of his accomplishment in achieving an agreement with Cleveland municipal leaders to establish a nimbler managerial system for the city’s public schools.  It’s sad to see the effect Donald Trump’s presence in this primary cycle has had on me, yours truly, in drawing my own attention and time away from as decent and qualified of a Presidential candidate as John Kasich, whose administration of Ohio has been broadly popular.  This is one of the most-popular Governors in the United States, and he is the least-heard from on this stage.

10:22 pm: Senator Rubio applauds Governor Snyder for his…promise of accountability (I assume he means the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Flint Emergency Financial Manager at least) for the lead poisoning of Flint through its river-drawn tap water.  He accuses Democrats of making a partisan issue in holding Governor Snyder accountable for what happened in Flint.  There is no way Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and Emergency Financial Manager for Flint don’t have some responsibility as the lead agencies that ignored the evidence of this mounting tragedy; Senator Rubio comes close to a pretty morally-bankrupt partisanship in circling the wagons on what happened in Flint.

10:02 pm-10:12 pm: Trump spends a good 10 minutes or so defending Trump University.  Some of the students at Trump University paid up to $36,000 to get real estate advice which, in Senator Rubio’s words, “You could pull off of Zillow.”  Donald Trump’s defense is weak-enough not to warrant repeating–Many of those in the suit spoke well of the course before they sued me; the suit has been ongoing for years because I am confident enough of winning the suit and I don’t want to encourage other lawsuits; even that you’ll have to wait and see when I win this lawsuit in a few years…All of these attacks on Donald Trump’s character–My, have there ever been a lot of those–seem to constitute a trial-by-fire for Trump supporters, like the basis for a common mythology and history of battles joined.

10:00 pm: Donald Trump is asked a potentially-embarrassing question by Megyn Kelly (no doubt his favorite moderator) about rhetorical about-faces he has made in the past…He is asked about accepting Syrian and Iraqi refugees, support for the Iraq War, and whether or not George W. Bush lied to get us into the Iraq War.  He parries this surprisingly well–He changed his mind on Syrian refugees when he heard that the United States would accept tens of thousands, Trump was receptive to the idea of the Iraq War but ultimately was unconvinced by the case for it, etc.  Even FOX is failing to build a case against Trump that will stick–this, a man who just routinely says what is convenient.

9:52 pm: Senator Cruz says that name-calling and cursing doesn’t make a leader, to significant applause.  There is a sizable anti-Trump contingent in this audience, and they are eager to see Trump held to account for blustery speech…and I wish this entry could say something about the substantive ideas that these candidates were espousing.

Oh, here’s something: Cruz wants to rebuild the military, “the way Ronald Reagan did.”  Senator Cruz is probably winning his running competition with Senator Rubio in giving odes to Ronald Reagan…Every Republican is talking about rebuilding the military; Barack Obama wants to increase military spending, but Republicans in the House of Representatives can’t agree to overall spending levels that will support more military spending.

9:50 pm: Asked if American military personnel would follow his orders to kill the families of terrorists–wives, children–which would be a war crime, Trump insists that “Oh, they’ll do it.  They’ll listen to me, believe me.”  He focuses on the brutality of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq; is that really an argument in favor of a tactic that would make us into an international malefactor and open our soldiers and Marines to war crimes prosecution?

9:42 pm-9:48 pm: There is a background bellow of yelling from Donald Trump supporters in the debate audience.  It has an undeniable belligerent tone to it, if you’re wondering.

9:40 pm: Donald Trump defends the H1-B visa program for tech workers, saying that there is a dearth of qualified workers for some positions in the technology sector.

Senator Cruz offers a pretty good counter, focusing on identified abuse of the H1-B visa in which some tech workers from abroad have been brought in from other countries for temporary employment, with existing American tech workers required to train their own replacements.  He also attacks Trump, for the 2nd time, for his use of H2-B visas to hire seasonal hospitality employees.

Trump responds that it’s very difficult to find enough seasonal hospitality employees in the Miami region; that has plausibility, and it would require particular knowledge of the regional economy to gainsay.

9:26 pm-9:31 pm: Senator Cruz attacks Trump twice in about 5 minutes for his campaign contributions to various Washington politicians.  He’s trying to make the case that Trump is corrupt (though Cruz avers that it’s understandable fora businessman to make campaign donations for favorable zoning resolutions–Does Cruz really want to argue that private campaign financing is “free speech”?), and he AGAIN returns to his talking point that Trump gave thousands to the Gang of Eight Senators who favored immigration reform.

Senator Cruz gets applause for saying that Trump represents the Washington establishment as a major campaign cash contributor.  He gets cheers for this, and it’s a fair rejoinder to Trump’s populist persona, but Rubio’s more-bitter and -personal attacks seem to get louder cheers…This audience may in fact be partly-packed by the establishment to make Senator Rubio into the party’s Saint George.  I anticipate that this won’t work.

9:15 pm-9:22 pm: Senator Rubio gets a “tough” (that is, unanswerable) question from Wallace: “How many jobs have you created?”  Senator Rubio starts off stuck with the awkward response, “Government doesn’t create jobs,” it can create favorable conditions for the private sector to create jobs, etc.  He’s paraphrasing what former Speaker Newt Gingrich said many times during the debates of the last Republican Presidential Primary cycle.

What we’re seeing here is the final reductio ad absurdum of the Republican Party’s encouraged contempt for government: “Oh, you’ve been in the Senate for the past 5 years?  What good could you be doing there?”

9:09 pm: Senator Cruz talks about his personal integrity as a consistent Conservative.  (He certainly is consistent on messaging!)  He promises to “repeal Obamacare.”  I don’t know what to say; he seems almost a separate show here, not the main affair.  Ted Cruz is the biggest challenger to Donald Trump right now, and he isn’t even part of the same conversation.

I never thought Senator Cruz would be a relative source of substance in this primary cycle, but that’s how far this party has fallen.

9:06 pm: Senator Rubio looks very tired onstage.  He looks haggard in his first appearance onstage.  He must not be able to believe how far off the rails his party’s Presidential Primaries have gone off the rails in just a few months.  Rubio defends his personal attacks on Trump on account of his personal vitriol against others for petty reasons.

In response, Trump does something remarkable: He acts like a secure man.  He doesn’t hit back; he takes back his previous attack of Senator Rubio as a lightweight.  He notes Rubio’s “small hands” jab against him, and he both shows the audience that he considers his hands large, and offers assurance that the other implied anatomy is also large.

There is a lot of laughter and applause from the audience.  This is all being said and applauded at a Presidential debate.  This kind of back-and-forth used to be widely-regarded as unacceptable in this venue.

9:04 pm: Trump has to defend his reticence to disavow the Ku Klux Klan: More booing from Trump supporters!  This is a remarkable change in the internal dynamic of the Republican Party; say what you will about George W. Bush, he was trying too facilitate greater diversity within the Republican Party.

9:02 pm: Chris Wallace asks Trump about Governor Romney’s put-down of Trump’s business record, personal statements and disposition.  Booing from the audience.  The Trump constituency is intensely-committed; they don’t want to hear critical scrutiny of their candidate, they are just not interested.

9:01 pm: FOX News learned their lesson from an earlier ABC debate: The candidates are already onstage!  You can’t have a logistical nightmare with the walk to the podium if no one has to move to get into position…