Delusional liberalism vs. Common Sense: ABC Democratic debate, December 19, 2015.

 

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton hit Bernie Sanders for proposing a universal tax hike to foot the bill for his paid family-leave program — and Sanders shot back that “$1.61 (a week) is a pretty good investment.”

Clinton, at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, was criticizing Sanders for backing a proposal to impose a 0.2% payroll tax — deducted from checks much like Social Security and Medicare — to cover his plan.

She also made a firm commitment not to raise taxes on the middle class.

“That is off the table as far as I am concerned. That is a pledge that I am making,” Clinton said in the ABC debate.

She said that she’d cover the cost of paid family leave with higher taxes only on the wealthy.

Sanders, though, responded that his plan is backed broadly by Senate Democrats. And he said Clinton’s criticism of payroll taxes is out of step with Democratic giants such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who oversaw the creation of Social Security, and Lyndon B. Johnson, who shepherded Medicare into law.

“What the legislation is is $1.61 a week. Now you can say that’s a tax on the middle class. It will provide three months of paid family and medical leave,” Sanders said, arguing it was well worth it.

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Hillary Clinton drew laughs — but a bit of a rebuke from Bernie Sanders — when asked about her ties to corporate leaders.

ABC debate moderator David Muir asked: “Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?”

A smiling Clinton responded, to cheers: “Everybody should.”

“I have said, I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful. I want to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, which they have not been doing. I want the ‘Buffett rule’ to be in effect, where millionaires have to pay 30%,” Clinton said.

But Sanders gave a much different answer when Muir asked whether corporate America would love him.

“No, I think they won’t,” Sanders said.

He added that “Wall Street will like me even less.”

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The Democratic presidential debate’s transition to the economy started with an awkward moment when Hillary Clinton was late returning from a break.

ABC moderator David Muir said he expected Clinton back momentarily, and started a question for Bernie Sanders.

But before Muir could finish the question, Clinton walked on the stage to applause from the crowd gathered in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Clinton stepped to the podium and said only: “Sorry.”

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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — and regime change more broadly — during Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate.

Sanders said Clinton is “too much into regime change and too aggressive without knowing what the consequences may be.”

Clinton swung back in the ABC debate, saying that Sanders had voted for regime change in Libya. She said that she had advocated a process to pursue the political ouster of Assad, saying it should operate on the same track as the U.S. fight against ISIS.

She also warned against any policy that would allow Iran to increase its role in Syria, equating such a move to “asking the arsonist to come and pour more gas on the fire.”

But Sanders stated, “We have got to get our foreign policy and our priorities right. It is not Assad who is attacking the United States — it is ISIS.”

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All three Democrats had sharp words for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in Saturday night’s debate.

“He is becoming ISIS’ best recruiter,” Hillary Clinton said, pointing to the billionaire businessman’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

“He thinks low wages are a good idea,” Bernie Sanders said, directing his remarks at attendees of Trump rallies.

And former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said that the United States “must never surrender our American values to racists, must never surrender them to the fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths.”

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The candidates once again struck different tones on gun rights — with Clinton saying more citizens purchasing firearms wouldn’t help matters and Sanders focusing on a search for “consensus” on gun regulations.

“Guns in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer. We lose 33,000 a year already to gun violence. Arming more people — to do what? — is not the appropriate response to terrorism,” Clinton said.

Sanders, though, pointed to his state — Vermont — and said more than half of its residents own guns.

“I’m not going to say that everybody’s in agreement — it’s a divided country on guns. But there is a broad consensus on gun safety regulation,” Sanders said, calling for background checks for potential gun owners and the closure of loopholes that allow easier purchases at gun shows.

O’Malley took a big swing at both candidates, saying that, “Secretary Clinton changes her position on this every election year, it seems.”

“What we need on this issue is not more polls. We need more principle,” O’Malley said.

The other candidates hit back — with Sanders interjecting, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.”

“We can do all the great speeches we want, but you ain’t gonna succeed” without broad-based support, Sanders said.

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Bernie Sanders, at the start of the third Democratic debate, apologized to Hillary Clinton for his staff’s exploitation of a Democratic National Committee computer vendor’s glitch to access her campaign’s proprietary voter files.

“This is not the type of campaign that we run, and if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired,” the Vermont senator said in response to Saturday evening’s first question from ABC.

Sanders did take several shots at Clinton before apologizing, however, saying that “I am not convinced that information from our campaign may not have ended up in her campaign.”

“Don’t know that,” he added, while touting an agreement for an independent investigation.

He also complained of “many press releases from the Clinton campaign of late.”

Clinton, though, ignored those shots and dismissed the issue.

“Now that, I think, you know, we’ve resolved your data, we’ve agreed on an independent inquiry, we should move on, because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this — I think they’re more interested in what we have to say about all of the issues facing us,” the former secretary of state said.

After addressing the data issue, the candidates quickly pivoted to terrorism, and issue they also each touched on in their opening statements.

Clinton took a shot at Republican contenders, saying that “despite all their tough talk about terrorism, (they) continue to let people who are on the no-fly list buy guns.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley touted his recent visit to a Northern Virginia mosque and took a swing at Republican candidate Donald Trump, saying that the country must “must never surrender them to the fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths.”

Sanders said he’s running for president because he wants a new foreign policy — “one that does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East.”

But it was the data imbroglio that shaped the political environment in the hours leading up to the debate.

The encounter comes with Clinton in a dominant position after she survived House Republicans’ inquiries into her private email use during a hearing on the Benghazi attacks and Vice President Joe Biden’s decision not to make a late entry in the race. Sanders is fading from his summer high, struggling to broaden his appeal in a campaign increasingly focused on foreign policy, and O’Malley has failed to break out of the low single digits.

The timing seems unlikely to help Sanders, whose campaign is irked that the DNC slated it for a Saturday night, when viewership is lower than the weeknight bouts that have drawn massive audiences to the Republican debates.

Clinton, a 2-to-1 front-runner in most national polls, has largely avoided punching down at Sanders throughout the campaign, rarely mentioning him at campaign events and taking carefully calibrated swings at him on issues like gun control.

But the data breach left Clinton with a decision: give Sanders a pass, as he did with her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, or tear into the Vermont senator over it during the debate, which takes place in New Hampshire and will air nationally on ABC.

Sanders’ campaign seized on a glitch in a DNC-housed program to access Hillary Clinton’s proprietary data on early-state voters this week. In response, the DNC locked Sanders out of all voter data, including information gathered by his own campaign. So Sanders retaliated with a lawsuit seeking $600,000 per day. The two sides announced a settlement in the wee hours of Saturday morning, with Sanders’ access restored.

Clinton’s campaign sent signals Friday that the daggers are out.

Campaign manager Robby Mook called Sanders’ team’s actions “incredibly disappointing” on a call with reporters, playing up the significance of what Sanders’ campaign had accessed.

“This was a very egregious breach and our data was stolen. This was not an inadvertent glimpse into our data,” Mook said.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon similarly lashed into Sanders on CNN, saying the senator’s campaign acted “like kids in a candy store and “went hog wild” downloading data.

Clinton’s campaign on Saturday also attempted to drum up focus on the data breach story by publishing an open letter to the Sanders campaign that directs four questions at the senator.

Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communication director, says that while the data breach has been “disturbing to our campaign and the volunteers who worked hard to build a strong organization,” it has also been “a distraction from the issues that the American people care about.”

Palmieri then went on to ask why the campaign said they didn’t store any data, despite logs showing that they may have, and why the campaign claimed the breach “was an accident” when the Sanders aides “conducted 25 targeted searches” within the Clinton data.

 

Comparing reaction to data access, Clinton emails

The Sanders campaign, for its part, has pinned blame on the DNC for the data’s accessibility. It has fired one aide, but has also accused national Democrats of overreacting.

“The failings of one or three or four young people who have made misjudgments in campaign is not cause for them to issue a death penalty on the Sanders campaign,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver told Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

However, hours before Saturday night’s debate, Weaver told CNN not to expect the same fire from the senator.

“He is a very issue-oriented candidate. Always has been, always will be,” Weaver said. “He will, given the opportunity, talk about the substantive issues facing middle class and working-class people. Period. That is what he will do.”

He did add, though, “Now, if the issue is raised, I think what he will say is that the DNC dropped the firewall between the candidates, some young staffers on our campaign, inappropriately took advantage of that and may have looked at some Clinton data. One of them has been fired, others are being investigated. There may be more discipline handed out to employees as a result.”

Weaver stressed, “There is no one saying what they did is not wrong; it was wrong and we have taken it seriously. We have been investigating it and we will deal with it.”

When asked whether Sanders will echo Weaver when he said the DNC “gave our campaign the death sentence” by shutting off voter file access, Weaver responded, “No.”

The Clinton campaign’s criticism of Sanders’ team, meanwhile, is starkly different from how Sanders has handled Clinton’s use of a personal email address on a private server during her four-year tenure as America’s top diplomat.

Sanders said during the first Democratic debate that the American people are “are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails” — a line that won applause in the moment but diminished his ability to criticize Clinton on an issue that had hampered her campaign for months.

Republicans have repeatedly seized on the issue to assail the Democratic front-runner as untrustworthy, and have redoubled their criticism as the FBI reviews whether any classified information was mishandled.

 

Sanders challenges party establishment

But the dust-up over the DNC data breach could give Sanders new openings.

His campaign’s relationship with the party establishment has always been strained — and spats such as Sanders’ criticism of the DNC’s limited debate schedule, which Clinton’s challengers view as designed to shield the front-runner, have spilled into the open.

That powder keg of resentment has been ignited.

The timing of the debate could bolster Sanders’ argument. It’s the second Democratic debate to be held on a Saturday night, with the audience likely to be smaller than the viewership that would tune in on a weeknight, when Republicans have so far held their debates.

The debate comes as the 2016 race’s focus increasingly shifts toward national security and terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris and California planned or inspired by ISIS.

Sanders’ campaign has focused largely on the issue of income inequality — with Sanders latching Clinton to Wall Street and influential donors.

While Clinton has maintained her large lead nationally, Sanders’ message has resonated in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire — which are both whiter and more liberal than the broader Democratic electorate.

A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll put Clinton ahead there by just nine percentage points — with 48% to Sanders’ 39% and O’Malley’s 4% — earlier this month.

In New Hampshire, Sanders has at times led. An early December CNN/WMUR poll showed him with 50% support to Clinton’s 40% and O’Malley’s 1%.

 

FACT CHECK: Glossed-Over Realities in Democratic Debate

In the latest Democratic presidential debate, oversimplification struck again.

Hillary Clinton spoke of fixing “glitches” in President Barack Obama’s health care law to address rising costs, skimming over deeper issues on matters of affordability and the Affordable Care Act. And in education, fancy dorms and football stadiums aren’t the big reason for higher college costs, as Bernie Sanders suggested.

A look at some of the statements Saturday night and how they compare with the facts:

CLINTON on rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs for the privately insured after enactment of Obama’s health care law: “I would certainly build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and work to fix some of the glitches.”

SANDERS on his proposed single-payer health care system: “The average middle-class family will be saving thousands of dollars a year.”

THE FACTS: Obama’s law was mainly about expanding coverage for the uninsured, and even former officials of his administration say major work still has to be done on cost control. In other words, rising costs are more than “glitches.”

One of the health care law’s main brakes on costs — a tax on high-value workplace coverage — has been put on hold by the new federal budget deal. Clinton had called for complete repeal of that levy, known as the Cadillac tax. Many economists believe the tax would help keep costs in check by forcing people into leaner insurance plans.

Sanders says his plan for a government-run health care system along the lines of Canada’s and Western Europe’s would save money for families and taxpayers. But such a major transition would involve winners and losers, as well as new taxes in place of premiums.

When the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office looked at the concept back in the early 1990s, it concluded that a single-payer system had the potential to save money but that wasn’t guaranteed. Moreover, individuals would have less freedom to choose their insurance packages, a trade-off that not everyone would accept.

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SANDERS: “The cost of college education is escalating a lot faster than the cost of inflation. There are a lot of factors involved in that. And that is that we have some colleges and universities that are spending a huge amount of money on fancy dormitories and on giant football stadiums.”

CLINTON: “States have been disinvesting in higher education … So states over a period of decades have put their money elsewhere; into prisons, into highways, into things other than higher education.”

THE FACTS: Clinton comes closest to diagnosing the problem accurately. College expenses are unsustainably high, but luxurious dorms aren’t the big driver that Sanders portrays. Public universities are charging more because they receive less in state government support.

Demos, a left-leaning think tank, said in a May study that the decline in state funding accounted for 79 percent of tuition hikes between 2001 and 2011. Just 6 percent was due to construction costs.

Sanders would make up that lost government money by providing free tuition, paid for with a tax on financial transactions. Clinton would offer federal dollars to encourage states to do more and keep students from having to borrow. It’s unclear how either plan would control colleges’ costs, though.

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SANDERS, apologizing for his campaign improperly gaining access to Clinton campaign data, raised the possibility that Clinton’s campaign may have done the same thing. “I am not convinced that information from our campaign may not have ended up in her campaign,” he said.

THE FACTS: Sanders is speculating, at best. There’s no evidence so far that Clinton’s campaign has accessed Sanders’ voter lists.

During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said he could “unequivocally tell you that no member of our staff stole data from theirs.” And the contractor that manages the campaign data for the Democratic Party, NGP-VAN, issued a statement Friday saying “our team removed access to the affected data, and determined that only one campaign took actions that could possibly have led to it retaining data to which it should not have had access.”

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CLINTON: “Assad has killed 250,000 Syrians.”

THE FACTS: Clinton appears to be blaming the entire estimated death toll of the Syrian civil war on just one side: the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Yet no matter how vicious his forces have been, deaths have come at the hands of all sides in the nearly 5-year-old multi-front civil war.

The Syrian conflict began with anti-government protests before spiraling into a war with many groups emerging in opposition to the brutal regime crackdown. Rebels in some of these groups are fighting and killing each other, in some cases with no involvement by Assad-backed troops.

The United Nations has estimated a death toll of 220,000 since 2011; other estimates are higher, and Clinton’s figure is roughly in line with them. But the death toll is attributable to all parties, not just to Assad.

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SANDERS: “Middle class in this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing.”

THE FACTS: It’s no secret that the middle class is struggling. The costs of college, health care and housing continue to rise, while wages have barely budged for two decades. The Pew Research Center reported earlier this month that the majority of Americans are no longer “middle income.”

Things are not quite as dire as Sanders suggests.

Pew found the share of Americans that it defines as middle income — a family of three earning $73,392 — has slipped. It’s down to 50 percent of households from 61 percent in 1971.

More Americans are low income, but more are also upper income. “The closer look at the shift out of the middle reveals that a deeper polarization is under way in the American economy,” Pew concluded.

Pew defines the median upper income as starting at $174,625 — a lot of money, but hardly the billionaire class attacked by Sanders.

———

SANDERS: “One of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdul II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees.”

THE FACTS: With each new debate, the presidential candidates come closer to getting the Jordanian king’s name right.

Among Republican and Democratic contenders alike, King Abdullah II is considered an important figure in the struggle for stability in the Middle East. But darned if they can nail down his name.

Sanders said Abdul instead of Abdullah. Invoking the king again, he mumbled the name.

Rush Limbaugh: Trump’s “Nutty” Proposal Is Already the Law of the Land — and Was Used by Jimmy Carter During the Hostage Crisis

RUSH: Here is number eight US Code 1182, inadmissible aliens.  This law was written in 1952.  It was passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress, House and Senate, and signed by a Democrat president.

“Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by president.  Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, the president may, by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Over here, everybody in the establishment in the political class, Republican, Democrat, media, you name it, is all claiming that what Trump said is dumb, stupid, reckless, dangerous, unconstitutional, while it is the law of the land.  And it was utilized by Jimmy Carter, no less, in 1979 to keep Iranians out of the United States, but he actually did more.  He made all Iranian students already here check in, and then he deported a ton of ’em.

There is precedent for everything Donald Trump has said he wants to do.  And if you listen to the wizards of smart in this country and our political establishment, you will think that this stuff is just unheard of, it’s almost unspeakable, it’s just indecent.  Here we have in the establishment the reputed best and brightest, the smartest. We’re not even qualified to be in their company no less.  And they’re dunces on this.

In November the 1979 United States attorney general had given all Iranian students one month to report to the local immigration office.  Seven thousand were found in violation of their visas, 15,000 Iranians were forced to leave the United States, 1979.  When this law, inadmissible aliens I just read to you, which I’m gonna be reading a lot to you today to the point you’re gonna get tired of hearing it, but you won’t forget it.

This law was passed in 1952.  Do you know what was going on in 1952, among other things?  There was no immigration in 1952.  It was shut down.  Immigration was shut down 1924 to 1965.  And why did we have this?  What was the need for this in 1952?  Oh, yeah, we had rampant illegal immigration. I’m talking about we suspended legal immigration from 1924 to 1965, but we were being overrun in 1952 like we always are.  We’re the last great hope of the world.  That law was written to allow the president to keep undesirables out and to kick undesirables out.  There’s no mystery.

RUSH: I’ve got to remind you of something here, folks.  The Jimmy Carter stuff that I just told you about, all of these statements that Jimmy Carter made were made in public, and the announcements that he made that he was gonna send Iranians home, Iranian students home, that they had to report to immigration, they had to confirm they were here legally, those who weren’t were sent back. They put a moratorium on all Iranians being allowed in the country back in 1979.

Carter did that publicly.  He announced it in public, and he announced it proudly.  Cookie has been scouring our archives and all of the other archives that are out there to try to find Carter audio.  But she can’t.  And the reason is, the networks are not digging it up and playing it for anybody.  The networks have it, is the point.  There is video of Jimmy Carter making these announcements.  ABC, CBS, NBC, the odds are, have video of Jimmy Carter, just as they do of Reagan and Nixon and all the way back to Kennedy, when television started, they’ve got it.  They’re just not interested in finding it. They’re not interested in dredging it up and playing it for anybody.

These are not proclamations on a Friday night document dump where nobody was paying attention.  Carter proudly announced these maneuvers in public.  And the Drive-Bys, if they were doing their jobs, would be digging into their archives trying to find this.  But it’s not in their interests, because right now they’re all trying to say that what Trump has proposed is unconstitutional, it’s ugly.  What Trump wants to do is dangerously ugly.  It ignores the law, it ignores the Constitution, and it feeds into our worst impulses.  It feeds into the worst aspects of who we are, just ugly.  In fact, it’s not, it’s been used before. It’s been United States law since 1952.  Get back to that here in just a second.  I got another salient point to make about that, but I want to tell you about SurveyUSA.  Now, listen to this.

They just completed two surveys in cities near San Bernardino.  Their focus was on Trump’s declaration that the United States should block any Muslims from entering the country.  In both of these cities near San Bernardino, the majority of adults polled supported Trump’s proposal.  In fact, more than a third of adults in both of these cities strongly agreed with the idea that Muslims should be barred from entering the country.  In both cities, more people strongly agreed with the idea than strongly disagreed.  You combine the “strongly agree” and “somewhat agree,” you combine that, and you are well into a majority of people who agree with Trump on this.

There was a partisan split, as you might expect, but even among Democrats, more than a quarter of them answering the poll strongly agreed with Trump’s idea.  When have 25% of Democrats agreed with any Republican idea?  Can you recall?  When have 25% of Democrats ever agreed with any Republican proposal?  The Washington Post is the source for this.  The Washington Post reports the results of SurveyUSA’s data, and the Washington Post notes that both of these towns heavily voted Obama in 2008 and 2012.  And a majority clearly now agree with Trump.

So here again, number 8 United States Code, inadmissible aliens.  “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by president.  Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may, by proclamation,” meaning he doesn’t have to go back and get a new vote.  This law empowers him to stand up and do what Jimmy Carter did.  “He may, by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary –” until next week, until next year, until whenever he wants “– suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Now, apparently our armchair constitutional scholars inside the Beltway think that United States code must be unconstitutional, ’cause they’re running around saying it’d be unconstitutional what Trump is suggesting, ridiculous, you can’t do that, it would be horrible.  It’s right there in the United States statutory law.  The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, written and passed by Democrat-controlled Congress and signed into law by a Democrat president.  Trump’s proposal is legal because all of our immigration laws have always barred some groups of people based on their actions or ethnicity or nationality.

The very first US immigration law was the Chinese Exclusionary Act of 1882.  Then there was the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1903, which we have discussed on this program.  But this has reminded me of something.  A couple of weeks ago Obama went on TV, as he is wont to do, and said (imitating Obama), “We do not have a religious test for people entering our country.  It doesn’t matter what they believe.  We have freedom of religion in this country, whatever amendments since then.  And it’s the law, it’s our law, and we cannot ask people about their religion, and we certainly cannot use what they say as a reason to keep –”  And I was forced to remind everybody that not only can we, we must, because it is also American statutory law.  We must ask immigrants seeking asylum what their religious beliefs are.  We have done it.  We continue to do it.  Here’s why.

The primary reason most refugees give for seeking asylum is that they are fleeing religious persecution in whatever war torn place they’re coming from.  During the interview process, it is required that we investigate that.  “What religion are you?” we ask.  They must tell us.  Based on what they tell us, we then examine whether or not there is indeed persecution of that religious belief in the place where the immigrant, the refugee, is coming from.  We dealt with this a couple of weeks ago.  Obama said you could never have a religious test for refugees, and we showed that a religious test is actually written into the statutes that govern refugees and asylum.

You know, the thing is here, folks, whether we’re talking about the hard left or the progressive left or these RINO type Republicans and the commentariat, these people are actually making up a new Constitution and body of law as they go along based on how they feel.  So Trump comes along, they do not know about this law.  They obviously don’t know it or they wouldn’t be making fools of themselves saying what they’re saying.  They don’t know the law exists.  Trump proposes that we put a moratorium on Muslims entering the country, and they just have a conniption fit and they talk about how it’s violating the Constitution and it makes a mockery of our system and it makes a mockery of our values and this is not who we are. They’re just telling us how they feel, but they are certainly not knowledgeable of the Constitution.  They’re making it up.

Tom Brokaw is one of many out there claiming what Trump wants to do so is unconstitutional, it’s in violation of United States law, it would never stand up in court.  He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he certainly is letting us know how he feels about it and making up his own law and his own Constitution as he goes, as they are all doing.

So as a result the last thing that they want anybody to do is actually look at what the law of the United States is.  And they certainly don’t want us looking at the history of this country because they certainly do not want us finding any precedent for anything that, in this case, Trump has suggested.  So now we have the soap opera, the daily soap opera that is the narrative of the day written by the media in Washington, and we’ve got the same thing about history.

Link

 

Minimum wage effect? Seattle area restaurant jobs have fallen -900 this year vs. +6,200 food jobs in rest of state

In June of last year, the Seattle city council passed a $15 an hour minimum wage law that will be phased in over time, with the first increase to $11 an hour taking effect on April 1, 2015. Additional increases in the city’s minimum wage are scheduled for January 1, 2016. Depending on an employer’s size and fringe benefits, some businesses will be paying new higher minimum wages at the start of the new year of $12, $12.50 or $13 an hour, while some smaller employers will have a minimum wage hike to “only” $10.50 an hour on January 1.

What effect will the eventual 58% increase in labor costs from $9.47 to $15 an hour have on small businesses, including Seattle area restaurants? Actually, it will an increase to $18.55 an hour for many employers once all costs and taxes are added. It’s too soon to tell for sure, but there is already some preliminary evidence that April’s minimum wage hike to $11 an hour, along with the pending increase of an additional $1-2 an hour in a little more than a month for some businesses, has started having a negative effect on restaurant jobs in the greater Seattle area.

The lighter blue line in the top chart above shows that restaurant jobs in the Seattle area started to stagnate and then decline around the first of this year (when the state minimum wage increased to $9.47 per hour, the highest state minimum wage in the country), following steady growth in Seattle MSA food services employment during the previous five-year period between January 2010 and January 2015 (data here). On April 1 of this year, the city’s minimum wage increased to $11 an hour which may have contributed to the loss of 900 Seattle area restaurant jobs between January and October, the largest decline over that period since a loss of 3,400 restaurant jobs in 2009 during the Great Recession (see bottom chart above). What makes the loss of 900 restaurant job this year especially noteworthy is that the average job gain during the January-October period over the previous five years from 2010 to 2014 was more than 3,500, and over the previous three years more than 4,100.

What is also noteworthy about the loss of Seattle area restaurant jobs this year is the fact that restaurant employment in the rest of Washington state outside of the Seattle MSA is booming, as the top chart shows (see dark blue line, state restaurant employment data here). At the same time that Seattle area food services employment has declined this year by 900 (and by -0.67%), restaurant jobs in the rest of the state have increased by a whopping 6,200 new positions (and by 7.1%). Nationally, restaurant employment has increased by 2.4% this year since January.

And overall payroll employment in the Seattle MSA increased 2.1% and by 39,100 jobs between January and October, while employment at the state level increased 1.9% and by 58,900 jobs during that period, with both of those job growth rates above the 1.3% growth in payroll employment at the national level during that period.

Bottom Line: Overall, employment growth this year from January to October in Washington state (1.9%) and in the Seattle MSA (2.1%) is above the 1.3% payroll growth nationally, suggesting that jobs in Seattle and Washington are growing faster than the national average. Further, restaurant employment in the state of Washington outside of Seattle is booming this year, with food services jobs increasing by 6,200 (and by 7.1%) between January and October. Further restaurants nationally have increased payrolls by 2.4% since January, well above the overall payroll growth of 1.3%, indicating stronger-than-average growth in hiring by America’s restaurants.

Meanwhile, there is at least one weak spot in Washington’s employment situation – restaurant employment in the Seattle MSA has declined by 900 jobs since January, the largest decline over that period since 2009 during the Great Recession. Historically, it takes a national recession before Seattle restaurant employment decreases between January and October, and there’s no recession this year to explain the drop in the area’s restaurant staffing levels.

One likely cause of the stagnation and decline of Seattle area restaurant jobs this year is the staggered increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Perhaps Seattle’s restaurant employment will recover, or perhaps it will continue to suffer from the upcoming full 58% increase in labor costs for the city’s restaurants that will be phased in during the coming years (and as high as a 95% increase for some employers after including additional costs and taxes) – time will tell. What we know for sure is that there are now 900 Seattle area restaurant workers who were employed in January who are no longer employed today, while more than 6,000 restaurant jobs have been added statewide outside of Seattle during that period, so it looks like the Seattle minimum wage hike is getting off to a pretty bad start.

Update: And with the pending increases in the minimum wage to between $12 and $13 an hour in about 5 weeks, I think we can expect even tougher times ahead for Seattle’s restaurant industry with continued weakness in food services employment.

Technical Note: The BLS restaurant employment data for the Seattle MSA covers the entire metro area of 3.6 million people, while the population in the city of Seattle, which is the only part of the MSA that is subject to the eventual $15 an hour minimum wage, is only about 652,000. Therefore there are several possibilities when considering the loss of 900 restaurant jobs this year:

  1. The loss of 900 restaurant jobs this year in the Seattle MSA could be spread evenly throughout the entire MSA, even though the non-Seattle part of the MSA is not subject to the city’s pending $15 an hour minimum wage.
  1. The loss of 900 restaurant jobs this year in the Seattle MSA could be concentrated in the non-Seattle parts of the MSA, even though restaurants there are not subject to minimum wage hikes and even though the state’s restaurants beyond the Seattle MSA are experiencing very strong job growth. This possibility doesn’t seem likely.
  1. The loss of 900 restaurant jobs this year could be concentrated in the part of the Seattle MSA – the city of Seattle – which is the only part of the greater Seattle area subject to the minimum wage hikes. That option would make more sense than the other two options above. In fact, the restaurant job losses in the city of Seattle might even be much higher than 900 this year. If we realistically assume that the restaurant industry in the non-city parts of Seattle are booming along with the rest of the state (7.1% job growth this year), then the possible gains in suburban Seattle restaurant jobs could actually be offsetting some of the city’s restaurant job losses. For example, suppose restaurant jobs in suburban Seattle grew by 1,000 this year, while restaurant jobs in the city fell by 1,900. The BLS would then report a loss of -900 restaurant jobs so far this year for the Seattle MSA, even though there was a loss of 1,900 jobs in the one part of the metro area that is burdened with higher minimum wages.

When restaurant jobs are experiencing strong growth both nationally and statewide in Washington outside Seattle, along with above-average growth in overall payroll employment in the Seattle MSA, but restaurants in the Seattle area are shedding almost three jobs per day at a rate unprecedented outside of recessionary periods, there seems to be one obvious reason for the loss of almost 1,000 jobs in the Seattle metro area this year – the city’s $15 minimum wage law.

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Obama Has Just Begun

How much damage can he do in his last year in office?
Insidiously and inadvertently, Barack Obama is alienating the people and moving the country to the right. If he keeps it up, by 2017 it will be a reactionary nation. But, counterintuitive as it seems, that is fine with Obama: Après nous le déluge.
By sheer force of his personality, Obama has managed to lose the Democratic Senate and House. State legislatures and governorships are now predominantly Republican. Obama’s own favorable ratings rarely top 45 percent. In his mind, great men, whether Socrates or Jesus, were never appreciated in their time. So it is not surprising that he is not, as he presses full speed ahead.
Obama certainly has doubled down going into his last year, most recently insisting on letting in more refugees from the Middle East, at a time when the children of Middle Eastern immigrants and contemporary migrants are terrorizing Europe. What remaining unpopular executive acts might anger his opponents the most? Close down Guantanamo, let thousands more refugees into the United States, free thousands more felons, snub another ally, flatter another enemy, weigh in on another interracial melodrama, extend amnesty to another million illegal aliens, make global warming laws by fiat, expand Obamacare, unilaterally impose gun control? In lieu of achievement, is the Obama theory to become relevant or noteworthy by offending the public and goading political enemies?
An Obama press conference is now a summation of all his old damn-you clichés — the fantasy strawman arguments; the caricatures of the evil Republican bogeymen; the demagogic litany of the sick, the innocent, and the old at the mercy of his callous opponents; the affected accentuation (e.g., Talîban; Pakîstan, Îslám, Latînos, etc.) that so many autodidacts parade in lieu of learning foreign languages; the make-no-mistake-about-it and let-me-be-clear empty emphatics; the flashing temper tantrums; the mangled sports metaphors; the factual gaffes; and the monotonous I, me, my, and mine first-person-pronoun exhaustion. What Obama cannot do in fact, he believes he can still accomplish through invective and derision.
Getting under his critics’ skin is about all that is left of a failed presidency.

In the 2016 election campaigns, most Democratic candidates in swing states will have distanced themselves from the last eight years. Otherwise, they would have to run on the patently false premise that American health care is more affordable and more comprehensive today than it was in 2009; that workforce participation is booming; that scandals are a thing of the past; that the debt has been addressed; that Obama has proved a healer who brought the country together; that immigration at last is ordered, legal, and logical; that the law has never been more respected and honored; that racial relations are calmer than ever; that the campuses are quiet; that the so-called war on terror is now over and won with al-Qaeda and ISIS contained or on the run; that U.S. prestige aboard has never been higher; that our allies appreciate our help and our enemies fear our wrath; that Iran will now not go nuclear; that Israel is secure and assured of our support; and that, thanks to American action, Egypt is stable, Libya is ascendant, Iraq is still consensual, and the Middle East in general is at last quiet after the tumultuous years of George W. Bush.

The hordes of young male migrants abandoning the Middle East for the West are merely analogous to past waves of immigrants and should be uniformly welcome. For Obama, there is no connection between them and his slashing of American involvement in the Middle East — much less any sense of responsibility that his own actions helped produce the crisis he now fobs off on others.

If an American president saw fit to attack fellow Americans from abroad, and lecture them on their illiberality, there are better places from which to take such a low road than from Turkey, the embryo of 20th-century genocide, and a country whose soccer crowds were recently shouting, “Allahu akbar!” during what was supposed to be a moment of silence offered to the Paris dead. Surely an American president might suggest that such grassroots religious triumphalism about mass death is much more reprehensible behavior than are his own fellow citizens’ demands to vet the backgrounds of refugees.

If you suggested to Obama that, in his search for a contrarian legacy, he should do something to stop the slaughter in the Middle East and be careful about letting in more unexamined refugees, in answer, he would be more likely to do less than nothing abroad and vastly expand the influx of migrants. Getting under his critics’ skin is about all that is left of a failed presidency.

Many of our observers still do not quite grasp that Obama will end his presidency by seeking to get his opponents’ goat — and that his resentment will lead to some strange things said and done.

Few foresaw this critical element of the Obama character. The tiny number of prescient pundits who warned what the Obama years would entail were not the supposedly sober and judicious establishment voices, who in fact seemed to be caught up in the hope-and-change euphoria and missed entirely Obama’s petulance and pique: the Evan Thomases (“he’s sort of god”), or the David Brookses (“and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” “It is easy to sketch out a scenario in which [Obama] could be a great president.”), or the Chris Matthewses (“the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”), or the Michael Beschlosses (“Uh. I would say it’s probably — he’s probably the smartest guy ever to become President.”), or the Chris Buckleys (“He has exhibited throughout a ‘first-class temperament,’ pace Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s famous comment about FDR. As for his intellect, well, he’s a Harvard man”), or the Kathleen Parkers (“ . . . with solemn prayers that Obama will govern as the centrist, pragmatic leader he is capable of being”), or the Peggy Noonans (“He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief.”).

Obama feels liberated now that he is free from further elections. He thinks he has a legitimate right to be a bit vindictive and vent his own frustrations and pique.

In truth, it was the loud, sometimes shrill, and caricatured voices of talk radio, the so-called crazy Republican House members, and the grassroots loudmouths of what would become the Tea Party who had Obama’s number. They warned early on that Barack Obama’s record was that of a petulant extremist, that his writing presaged that he would borrow and spend like no other president, that his past associations gave warning that he would use his community-organizing skills cynically to divide Americans along racial lines, that nothing in his past had ever suggested anything other than radicalism and an ease with divisive speech, that his votes as a state legislator and as a U.S. senator suggested that he had an instinctual dislike of the entrepreneur and the self-made businessman, and that his past rhetoric advised that he would ignore settled law and instead would rule by fiat — that he would render immigration law null and void, that he would diminish the profile of America abroad, and that he would do all this because he was an ideologue, with no history of bipartisanship but a lot of animus toward his critics, and one who saw no ethical or practical reason to appreciate the more than 60 years of America’s postwar global leadership and the world that it had built. Again, the despised right-wingers were right and the more moderate establishment quite wrong.

Abroad, from Obama’s post-Paris speeches, it is clear that he is now bored with and irritated by the War on Terror. He seems to have believed either that Islamist global terror was a minor distraction with no potential for real harm other than to bring right-wingers in backlash fashion out of the woodwork, or that it was an understandably radical manifestation of what was otherwise a legitimate complaint of Islam against the Western-dominated global system — thus requiring contextualization rather than mindless opposition.

A lot of ambitious and dangerous powers are watching Obama assume a fetal position, and may well as a consequence act foolishly and recklessly this next year. Not only Russia, China, and North Korea, but also Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, and assorted rogue states may take chances in the next 14 months that they would otherwise never have entertained (given that America is innately strong and they are mostly in comparison far weaker) — on the premise that such adventurism offers tangible advantages without likely negative consequences and that the chance for such opportunities will not present itself again for decades to come.

At home, Obama feels liberated now that he is free from further elections. He thinks he has a legitimate right to be a bit vindictive and vent his own frustrations and pique, heretofore repressed over the last seven years because of the exigencies of Democratic electioneering. Obama can now vent and strike back at his opponents, caricaturing them from abroad, questioning their patriotism, slandering them for sport, and trying to figure out which emblematic executive orders and extra-legal bureaucratic directives will most infuriate them and repay them for their supposed culpability for his failed vero possumus presidency.
The more contrarian he becomes, and the more he opposes the wishes of the vast majority of the American people, all the more Obama envisions himself speaking truth to power and becoming iconic of something rather than the reality that he is becoming proof of nothing.
Hold on. We haven’t seen anything yet.

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RNC Cans NBC After Levin Calls For Priebus Firing

Before the media circus – masquerading as a GOP Debate on CNBC – even happened, CR Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin warned it would be a train-wreck. After he was proven right, Levin called for Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee to be fired.

That message was heard loud and clear.

Today, Reince announced that the RNC was suspending their partnership with NBC for the upcoming debate on that network in February.

Levin railed on Reince and the GOP Establishment on his radio show the day after the debate:

5 Headlines: Media Consensus Is That CNBC Was GOP Debate’s ‘Biggest Loser’

The pundit world is still trying to decide which of the 10 Republican candidates for president won the third Republican debate of the 2016 race.

But it didn’t take long for there to be consensus on one thing: CNBC was the night’s “biggest loser.”

On multiple occasions, the moderators were booed for their pointed questions. And in one of the most memorable moments of the night, Sen. Ted Cruz ignored a question from moderator Carl Quintanilla and launched into a speech decrying the bias of CNBC and the mainstream media.

“Nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators has any intention of voting in a Republican primary,” Cruz said.

With that, here are five headlines and excerpts that tell story:

1. “The biggest loser? The media” (Boston Globe): Writing about the Cruz-Quintanilla confrontation Jeff Jacoby writes:

“It was brutal takedown, and CNBC’s smarmy moderators had it coming. Cruz is far from the first conservative to rail against liberal media bias, but he did it about as effectively as it can be done in 30 seconds. The clip of that moment will go viral. It may or may not give a boost to Cruz’s presidential hopes, but it will certainly reinforce the public’s sense that the mainstream media isn’t trustworthy.”

2. “CNBC Was the Biggest Loser of Its Own Debate” (Slate):

“The main moderators—John Harwood, Becky Quick, and Carl Quintinilla—appeared to be in a different time zone from Jim Cramer and Rick Santelli, who pitched in with a few questions. Although come to think of it, Quintanilla may have been in a different zone from everyone. Were there tough questions? Sure. In fact, there were more than a few. There were hard queries about H-1B visas, and the candidates’ tax plans. Quintanilla even managed to push Ben Carson on his involvement with Mannatech, the shady multilevel company whose vitamins and other supplements it allowed sales reps to claim cured autism and cancer.

“But mostly CNBC’s debate was mess—and to regular CNBC viewers, a familiar one. How bad was it? Straight-ahead moderators John Harwood and Becky Quick seemed to be broadcasting from Planet Face the Nation, lobbing serious policy questions. Meanwhile, the more flamboyant Cramer and Santelli practically competed for overacting honors.”

3. “The Big Loser: CNBC” (The Weekly Standard):

“The CNBC panelists seemed oblivious to how they came across and how eager they appeared to embarrass the candidates, often on trivial matters. Marco Rubio’s cashing in a small retirement fund and paying a fine for doing so – that was their idea of an important issue.

“It backfired. Ted Cruz, then Rubio, then Chris Christie rebelled against the line of questioning. Trump said the questions were ‘nasty and ridiculous.’ Cruz and Rubio noted the Democratic candidates got far more softball questions at their debate. (CNBC wasn’t involved in that event.) ‘Democrats have the ultimate super PAC,’ Rubio said. ‘It’s called the mainstream media.'”

4. “Moderators lose control at third GOP debate” (Politico):

“The debate had barely wrapped up when Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus marched into the spin room and blasted the network. In a statement sent out soon after, Priebus said he was disappointed in the network moderators.

“‘Our diverse field of talented and exceptionally qualified candidates did their best to share ideas for how to reinvigorate the economy and put Americans back to work despite deeply unfortunate questioning from CNBC,’ Priebus said. ‘One of the great things about our party is that we are able to have a dynamic exchange about which solutions will secure a prosperous future, and I will fight to ensure future debates allow for a more robust exchange. CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled.’

“CNBC spokesman Brian Steel defended the moderators.

“‘People who want to be President of the United States should be able to answer tough questions,’ Steel said in an email.”

5. “The 5 big confrontations between CNBC moderators and GOP candidates” (Washington Post): The Post framed a collection of confrontations by writing:

“Debate watchers on social media rightly criticized CNBC’s moderators for some of their questions and for not being able to rein in candidates when they went out of bounds, either on time or substance. But, at times, the 2016 hopefuls on stage seemed to pounce on the moderators with little reason or disputed some facts that weren’t exactly in their favor.

The arguments were often left unsolved as the moderators tried their best to, well, moderate and keep the debate moving on.”

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The Boehner-Obama Budget Deal Explained in One Chart

Washington is addicted to spending.

The most recent embodiment of this fact is the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The deal, agreed to by House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama, increases spending (including debt service and offsets) by $85 billion over the next three years. Nearly half of those offsets (including new revenues) are not realized until 2025—the last year of the budget window.

Between this Boehner-Obama deal and the Ryan-Murray spending agreement of 2013 (the last time Congress revisited the discretionary spending caps), Congress has increased spending by a total of $143 billion before 2021 (the period covered by the Budget Control Act) paid for with $98 billion in savings not realized until after 2021.

As we know from past experience, these “savings” sometimes never materialize because they’re so far into the future.

Rather than taking meaningful steps to address the growing debt, the Boehner-Obama deal is a colossal step in the opposite direction. This deal does nothing to reduce the size or scope of government over any period of time.

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Rush Limbaugh: Democrats Promise Free Everything

RUSH: First up is a montage here from the debate last night.  Bernie Sanders, Hillary, Lincoln Chafee, and they’re all talking about all the free stuff.  College and health care and whatever you want. If you’re an illegal immigrant, it’s all yours.  All you have to do is show up.

SANDERS:  Make every public college and university in this country tuition-free.

HILLARY:  Anyone to go to a public college or university tuition-free.

SANDERS:  We’re all gonna have medical and family paid leave.

HILLARY:  Make sure every child gets health care, including undocumented children and others.

CHAFEE:  Funding education, funding infrastructure, funding health care.

HILLARY:  Enhance the benefits for the poorest recipients of Social Security.

SANDERS:  We should be putting money into education.  I want Wall Street now to help kids in this country go to college, public colleges and universities.

HILLARY:  I know we can afford it because we’re gonna make the wealthy pay for it.

RUSH:  (laughing)  We can afford it ’cause we’re gonna make the wealthy pay. We are $18 trillion in debt.  Now, you can afford anything if you ignore that, and if you don’t think that’s a problem and if that number is irrelevant, the money never has to even be serviced or paid back, then of course you can afford anything.  But the truth is, we can’t afford anything.  We can afford maybe, what, what’s the number that we drag in by tax revenue every year?  The numbers are confusing, but $3 trillion whatever we can afford every year, but we so exceed that.  We have exceeded it for so long. We’re already paying for things we can’t afford.  And these people just want to lap more and more on top of it.

You know, one of the biggest misdirections in public dialogue and politics is?  The taxpayers’ expense.  Taxpayers have to pay. The taxpayers don’t pay anything.  The reason is they’re not conscious of it.  Everybody’s taxes are withheld from their paychecks, those who work.  Very few people are independent contractors that actually pay their taxes themselves.  The vast majority of people never see the money they pay in taxes, any kind.  Property tax is part of the homeowners, the mortgage payment every month, very little tax do you ever see, particularly income and payroll taxes.

So people come along, “This is gonna cost the taxpayers X, and that’s gonna cost the taxpayer Y.” It doesn’t cost you anything.  We build a battleship, you don’t think it’s cost you anything.  What’s your share of it?  Whoever sent you a bill for your portion of a B-2 bomber?  So the idea of a taxpayers expense doesn’t mean anything because it has no basis in relatability.  So you can run around and talk about we’re gonna pay for this, we’re gonna do this, we can afford this, and the taxpayers are not gonna worry about it.  They’ve never gotten a bill for anything.  So the idea that it’s costing them something is totally over their head, totally escapes them without any consciousness or any awareness of an annual deficit and an accumulating national debt and what it actually means.  And I venture to say 90% of the population doesn’t have the slightest clue what it means. It can’t be a negative used against the Democrats.

For 50 years people on our side have been trying to prove and establish that the Democrats can be beaten by talking about all the excessive spending. But the fact is it doesn’t work, it doesn’t persuade anybody to not support or vote Democrat because they’re never aware of having to pay for any of it, be they taxpayers or recipients.  They’re not aware of having to pay for any of it.  They never see the tax revenue that’s collected from them in the first place, and they certainly aren’t aware how it’s allocated.

RUSH: Here’s Lee in Gilroy, California.  Great to have you on the program, Lee.  I’m glad you waited.  Hello.

CALLER:  Hey, Rush.  Longtime listener.  Last night when I was watching the debate last night, was watching all the clowns debate each other, when they got to especially Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, when they got to the part where they promised all the free handouts, you know, I sat there and I really contemplated that. And I felt, just in my gut, I’m like, wow, you know, Republicans are really in trouble here.

RUSH:  Well, is your question, how do you compete with that?

CALLER:  Exactly.  How do you compete with all those handouts, especially —

RUSH:  See, that’s the scary thing.  This is the scary thing from the standpoint of whatever percentage you want to say supports this stuff, that we have to conclude we’ve lost that percentage of the country.  When you have what was on that stage last night, all these promises for a much bigger warfare state, free this, free that, you have to realize that there’s a portion of the population that does applaud it, think it’s great, think it’s cool, thinks that is the purpose of government, is to take care of people and to help people.

And what’s wrong with it, they will say?  What’s wrong with free college?  What’s wrong with food stamps?  What’s wrong with helping people?  What’s wrong with bringing illegals in so they can make something of themselves?  And that begins an entire education process of trying to explain to people how it’s hurting the people you’re trying to help.  It’s denying them their dignity.  It’s denying them their opportunity to be totally self-sufficient and to find out how good and capable they are.  And sometimes people look at that whole effort as a lost cause waste of time.  So, yeah, I mean, it’s my assessment following the 2004 election.  American people voted for Santa Claus.  Other 2008, I’m sorry.

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