GOP Marathon Turned on Immigration, Tax Issues

The Gilmer Free Press

SIMI VALLEY, CA—The latest on the GOP presidential debates at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California:


8:15 p.m.

A night of debate between Republican presidential candidates has concluded after five hours of questions, answers and clashes.

The conflicts arose over such issues as immigration, tax policy and vaccinations.

Billionaire Donald Trump was much less combative than he had been in the previous face-off last month, and declared himself “very impressed” with the other candidates.


8:00 p.m.

Jeb Bush turns to Donald Trump and says he would have his Secret Service code name be “Eveready, because I’m very high-energy.“

That’s a dig at Trump, who routinely calls the former Florida governor “low-energy.“ It’s a critique that has struck a nerve in the former Florida governor.

Asked the same question, the famously self-promoting Trump leans close to his microphone and says his name would be “Humble.“


7:50 p.m.

Donald Trump is stoking the furor against vaccinations, giving new voice to the widely discredited theory that they cause autism.

He says he backs vaccinating children over longer time periods and in smaller doses. Trump says, “You take this little beautiful baby and you pump - I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child.“

Medical experts have repeatedly rejected any link between the scheduled shots and higher rates of autism.

When asked about Trump’s theory, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson joked, “He’s an OK doctor.“

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says the U.S. should place greater focus on curing diseases like diabetes. He asks, “Why doesn’t this country focus on cures rather than treatment?“


7:45 p.m.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he’s not in favor of environmental policies that will make business more difficult for job creators.

Rubio also said during the GOP presidential debate that he is skeptical of decisions Democrats want to make about climate change, saying they will do nothing to end the drought in California.

He says President Obama’s carbon policies won’t change the climate. He says, “America is not a planet.“

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says it’s a “wild, left-wing idea” that the U.S. can fix climate change on its own.


7:40 p.m.

Jeb Bush is admitting he smoked pot in high school, an acknowledgement that came amid a debate over legalizing marijuana. He says his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, would not be happy to hear him admit it on television.

Bush notes that he opposed a medical marijuana ballot measure in Florida because there were too many “loopholes” in the bill. He says there is a “serious epidemic” of drugs in the U.S. and is pushing for more treatment and prevention programs. But he says state laws legalizing the drug should stand.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says Bush has a double standard. While poorer people go to jail for marijuana possession, Paul says, richer users escape punishment. He says, “America needs to take a different attitude.“

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says his state is the first in the nation that requires mandatory drug treatment for non-violent offenders. He repeated his assertion that the “war on drugs has been a failure,“ but said, “that doesn’t mean we should be legalizing gateway drugs.“


7:35 p.m.

Mike Huckabee says “darn right” he would have a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees.

He says, “I’m tired of the liberals having them.“

Huckabee, a leader among the social conservatives, says he would make opposition to abortion rights a linchpin to a Supreme Court nomination.

The former Arkansas governor says he would ask any nominee if he or she believed a fetus is a human being “or a lump of tissue.“


7:30 p.m.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz says it was a mistake for him to support the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Cruz made the admission at the second Republican presidential debate. He was criticizing the record of the Bush family in nominating justices like Roberts. The chief justice has drawn conservative ire for two votes that upheld President Obama’s health overhaul.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pointed out that Cruz had backed Roberts. He said the problem was that the nomination process has become so politicized that presidents put forward people with limited judicial track records like Roberts.

Bush says, “We need to make sure that we have justices with a proven, experienced record of respect for upholding the Constitution.“

Roberts was nominated by Jeb Bush’s brother, president George W. Bush. Cruz also cited former Justice David Souter, nominated by Jeb Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush.


7:20 p.m.

Donald Trump is pointing out that he was against the 2003 Iraq invasion. He’s linking Jeb Bush to the war, which was ordered by his brother, then-President George W. Bush.

Trump says, “Your brother and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama because it was such a disaster in the last three months.“

Jeb Bush, who laid out a strategy to fight radical militant jihadists at the Reagan Library last month, has discussed his philosophy of peace through strength and acting through coalitions against global threats.

But when Trump attacked George W. Bush, Jeb Bush stopped cold and looked directly at Trump, saying, “You know what, as it relates to my brother, he kept us safe.“

It’s not a new line for Bush. But it earned him one of the biggest ovations of the event.


7:10 p.m.

Rand Paul says if voters want a president who will send troops to Iraq, “you got 14 other choices.“

The Kentucky senator says, “There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you if you want to go back to war in Iraq.“

Paul says the first war in Iraq was a mistake, it would not be in the United States’ best interests to start another one and “I’m not sending our sons and our daughters back to Iraq.“

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says “political restrictions” placed on troops already in the Middle East that prevent them from taking on the Islamic State should be lifted. Walker says he will only send in troops “when our national security is at risk.“


6:50 p.m.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is suggesting the country can’t risk selecting a foreign policy novice like Donald Trump to be president.

At the second GOP presidential debate, Rubio rattled off a list of threats. He cited North Korean missiles, Russian incursions into the Ukraine and China cyberattacks. He said people need to ask candidates like Trump about foreign policy because “these are extraordinarily dangerous times.“

Rubio added that the next president had “better be someone that understands these issues and has good judgment about them.“

Trump acknowledged he has a lot to learn about foreign policy but vowed to be up to speed in time.


6:48 p.m.

At a media filing center in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign headquarters, aides put up posters of Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and other GOP candidates with quotes from Ronald Reagan that contradict the current field’s policy positions.

Speaking to the staff before the start of the debate, campaign manager Robby Mook gladly recited South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s line from the first event, “Hillary Clinton has a list a mile long to help the middle class.“

He said every Republican on the debate stage would support defunding Planned Parenthood. “If Hillary Clinton is president that will never happen and that’s why we’re here,“ Mook said.

Later, Mook told reporters it was “disturbing” that Jeb Bush “allowed himself to be shushed by Donald Trump.“ Mook said Trump was “driving the show here. He has a completely out-of-date and out-of-touch philosophy and I think that’s a scary prospect in the general election.“

Asked about Carly Fiorina, Mook said she got her biggest applause “when she went on a tirade” about defunding Planned Parenthood.


6:45 p.m.

Chris Christie has had enough of the criticism and counterattacks between billionaire Donald Trump and former tech company CEO Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina was fired. Trump has declared bankruptcy. Christie says Americans don’t care.

Christie says: “While I’m as entertained as anyone by this personal back-and-forth about the history of Donald and Carly’s career, for the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job, who can’t fund his child’s education - I gotta tell you the truth - they could care less about your careers.“

Continuing his appeal to the middle class, Christie added: “You’re both successful people. Congratulations. The middle class in this country who’s getting plowed under by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, let’s start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.“


6:40 p.m.

Billionaire Donald Trump is advocating for a progressive income tax, speaking out against a flat tax where everyone pays the same percentage no matter how much they earn.

Trump says during the second Republican presidential debate that it’s not fair for someone who makes $50,000 a year to pay the same percentage in taxes as a millionaire.

Trump also promises to release a tax reform plan in a couple weeks that hedge fund managers won’t like, but that those in the middle class will.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul disagrees, saying a flat 14.5 percent tax on everyone is the way to go.


6:35 p.m.

Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump are trading barbs about their business records.

Fiorina says the roughly 30,000 layoffs she oversaw as CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005 are an example of “tough calls” the next president will have to make. She argues the job cuts took the country from “lagging behind to leading.“

Trump called the technology firm a “disaster,“ blaming another 30,000 layoffs announced by the company this week on Fiorina’s leadership. He says, “She can’t run any of my companies.“

Fiorina has fired back, pointing to debt and bankruptcies stemming from Trump’s casino investments. She retorts, “Why should we trust to you to manage the finances of this nation any differently than you manage the finances of our casinos?“


6:25 p.m.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says President Obama and Democrats don’t want to solve the problem of illegal immigration.

She says Obama and Democrats want to have the issue as one to use against Republicans.

Republican positions on immigration were a focus of the second GOP presidential debate.

Donald Trump says he agrees with Fiorina that Democrats don’t want to solve the immigration problem. Trump also defends his position that citizenship should not be given automatically to children born in the United States. He says the U.S. is “dumb” and “stupid” for allowing that through the 14th Amendment.

He says as president he would end birthright citizenship.

Fiorina says, “You can’t just wave your hands and say the 14th Amendment is going to go away.“


6:20 p.m.

Jeb Bush says Donald Trump needs to apologize for attacking the background of his wife.

Columba Bush is an American citizen born in Mexico. Trump has suggested Bush is too soft toward immigrants because of his marriage. At the second GOP presidential debate, Bush demanded that Trump apologize to her.

Trump said he hears “phenomenal things” about Columba Bush but wouldn’t apologize. He said his words have been misconstrued and stood by his criticism of Bush for answering some questions from reporters in Spanish. He said people in the United States should speak English.

Bush said he’s showing respect to people who speak both languages. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio jumped in and said it’s important to speak Spanish to communicate with immigrants who may become Republican voters. He recounted stories of his grandfather, a Cuban immigrant whose English was shaky but who idolized Ronald Reagan.


6:15 p.m.

Fiorina was asked to respond to one of the most biting insults of the 2016 campaign: “Look at that face,“ Trump had said of her recently, going on to appear to say she didn’t have the looks to be president.

Fiorina used another of Trump’s comments as a comeback. On the stage, he had just called out Bush for trying to walk back comments on funding women’s health care.

“You know it’s interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly in what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,“ she said, drawing loud applause from the live audience.

Trump, looking sheepish, said, “She’s got a beautiful face, and she’s a beautiful woman.“

On the split screen on CNN, Fiorina didn’t visibly react.


6:10 p.m.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says Republicans in Congress should stand fast on defunding Planned Parenthood even if it triggers a government shutdown.

Fiorina spoke at the second Republican presidential debate. She said undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials purportedly selling fetal organs make it a moral imperative to do anything possible to stop the organization. Planned Parenthood says it provides fetal tissue for medical research, charging a minor fee to cover costs.

Fiorina said, “This is about the character of our nation.“

She won the first standing ovation of night when she added, “If we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.“

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also condemned Planned Parenthood and defended his statement that the federal government should spend less on women’s health care. He said he was talking specifically about Planned Parenthood but he has been attacked repeatedly by Hillary Clinton for the line.


6:05 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is touting his anti-abortion rights record but stopping short of saying he’d shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood.

Asked three times whether he would press to defund the women’s health organization even if it results in a government closure, Christie punted on the question.

Christie says he’d put it “on the list” of issues that Republicans should use to force a compromise from President Barack Obama, along with tax legislation.

Christie has described the past government shutdown, which Republicans forced over the health care law, as a political misstep for the GOP.


5:55 p.m.

In an exchange on gay marriage and religious liberty, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee argued forcefully for the right of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis to defy the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage. “I thought that everyone here passed ninth-grade civics. The courts can’t legislate,“ he said. “I thought we had three branches of government.“

Huckabee declined to criticize former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for saying Davis does not have the right to deny gays marriage licenses. Bush said he supports defending the rights of religious people to refuse to endorse gay marriage, but he said someone else in Davis’ office should sign the certificates since the Supreme Court ruling is the law of the land.

“I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on their faith,“ he said.

5:53 p.m.

Donald Trump says President Barack Obama doesn’t have courage.

The billionaire, asked whether Congress bears responsibility for the Syrian refugee crisis, says he would have gone in with “tremendous force” when the Syrian regime attacked its own people.

That was in response to a question about whether Congress is responsible for backing Obama, who refused to order military action after the Assad regime attacked Syrians.

Trump says: “Somehow he just doesn’t have courage. There’s something missing from our president.“


5:51 p.m.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush say the next president should not immediately reverse the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The Republican party was staunchly against the deal cut by the Obama administration. Several GOP candidates have vowed to overturn the agreement, should they win the White House.

Paul took a different approach, saying it would be “absurd” to “cut up the agreement immediately.“

Bush echoed that position, saying “it’s not a strategy to tear up an agreement.“ Instead, he would strengthen ties with Israel, a move he says will create “a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.“


5:45 p.m.

Donald Trump says as president he would get along better with world leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, than President Obama and that will make the world more stable.

Trump says Putin has “absolutely no respect for President Obama.“

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says Putin is “trying to replace us as the single most important power broker in the Middle East.“

And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says Russia is a bad actor and the only way to stop Putin is to show “strength and resolve.“ She says she would rebuild the U.S. missile defense system as part of her foreign policy strategy.


5:40 p.m.

Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are mixing it up over big-money donors’ influence.

Trump has contended that Bush and others are puppets of their campaign contributors. At the second Republican presidential debate, Bush shot back. He said Trump once gave him money hoping to expand casino gambling in Florida while Bush was governor there. But Bush stood firm.

Trump denied he wanted the gaming expansion. The two men began to argue.

Bush noted that Hillary Clinton attended Trump’s most recent wedding and said the developer has praised House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Trump said he had to get along with all politicians and quipped that Bush has “more energy.“ He has been making fun of what he calls Bush’s low-energy presentation for weeks.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson jumped into the exchange. He’s risen in polls to just behind Trump and boasted he has refused to court big donors. Carson said he would not “lick the boots of billionaires.“


5:32 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich figuratively is waving his arms at the start of the debate, which has quickly turned into a group attack on Donald Trump.

Kasich says anyone tuning into the debate would see it and change the channel.

He says with desperation in his voice: “People want to know what we’re going to do to fix this place. It may be buzzing out there. But I think it’s important that we get to the issues.“


5:35 p.m.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is declining to single out his rivals for attack, saying he’s running because he concerned about the country’s divisiveness and fiscal state.

He says, “I don’t want to really get into describing who’s a politician and who’s not.“

Carson has cast himself as an outsider running above the political fray.


5:29 p.m.

Scott Walker is asserting himself early in the second Republican presidential debate by going after front-runner Donald Trump.

Walker tells Trump: “We don’t need an apprentice in the White House. We have one right now.“ And he says Trump has put projects into bankruptcy and he can’t do that to America.

Trump says he would do better than Walker has leading Wisconsin since 2011, saying the state is losing $2.2 billion. The state faced that shortfall heading into this year, but Walker signed a budget in July that eradicated it.

Walker says he is someone who will take on the special interests in Washington and fight for average Americans.


5:28 p.m.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is unveiling a new line of attack against Donald Trump at the opening of tonight’s debate: He’s too brash to lead.

Paul is arguing that Trump’s temperament would make him untrustworthy in high-level international negotiations.

Paul says he’s worried about having Trump in control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, citing his “careless language” and attack on people’s appearances.

Trump quickly shot back with a slam on Paul: “I never attacked him on his looks and believe me there’s plenty of substance right there.“


5:25 p.m.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina isn’t saying whether she trusts Donald Trump in control of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Fiorina punted on the first question posed in the second Republican presidential debate, about whether she felt comfortable with Trump having access to the nuclear launch codes.

Instead, Fiorina calls Trump a “wonderful man,“ adding that “all of us will be revealed over time and under pressure.“

She says whether Trump can be trusted with nuclear weapons is for voters to decide.


5:20 p.m.

In introducing themselves, several Republican candidates for president are genuflecting at Ronald Reagan’s tomb, not far from the library where they are debating.

Ohio’s John Kasich points behind him at the Air Force One: “I actually flew in that plane.“

Florida’s Marco Rubio credits Reagan for inspiring his public service and “love of country.“

And Wisconsin’s Scott Walker says he is in the mold of Reagan, whom America needs “now more than ever.“


5:18 p.m.

Gov. Chris Christie is kicking off the second GOP presidential debate by saying Barack Obama has drained America of hope.

The New Jersey governor used his introduction to ask CNN to turn the camera from him to the audience. He asked the crowd in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to raise their hands if they believed their children had a better future due to Barack Obama. No hands went up.

Christie promised to reverse that.


5:12 p.m.

The debate between top-tier Republican presidential candidates is under way. Eleven candidates are opening the debate with introductions.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took a shot at Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson says he’s in the race because he’s concerned about the future for America’s children.

Front-runner Donald Trump reminds the crowd he’s “made billions and billions of dollars.“

Politics News

The Gilmer Free Press

This Poll Might Be the One Hillary Needs to Worry About

Hillary Clinton is currently holding several weeks of “Women for Hillary” rallies ... but in a span of just eight weeks, support for Clinton among Democratic-leaning female voters dropped 29 percentage points. A Washington Post-ABC News poll back in July found that 71% of such voters expected to vote for Clinton; now, as Clinton continues to deal with fallout related to her private email server fiasco, just 42% do. That’s the main reason Clinton’s overall numbers dropped from 63% in July to 42% now among voters who lean Democrat, the Post reports, eroding her lead over Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, who hasn’t even officially joined the presidential race yet. She’s now polling about evenly with both women and men.

Despite the fact that Clinton doesn’t seem concerned about the numbers (“There’s an ebb and flow,“ she said when asked about the drop yesterday. “Polls go up and down.“), and often insists that only the media, and not her potential supporters, care about the email controversy, the Post notes that it spoke to “more than two dozen women in Ohio and New Hampshire” over the past week and the email issue “came up again and again.“ Many of those women, quoted in the Post article, say they want to see a woman in the White House, but only the “right” one. “Hillary’s so divisive,“ says one. “It breaks my heart for her. I’m sorry she’s not likable.“ As ABC notes, the latest poll has Clinton and Donald Trump “virtually neck-and-neck ... in a hypothetical match-up.“

Donor to Rick Perry: I Want My $5M Back

Rick Perry may have thought he could just drop out of the presidential race and ride off into the Texas sunset, but some supporters of the Perry-supporting Opportunity and Freedom PAC are asking an important question as his 10-gallon hat disappears over the horizon: Can we get our money back? The PAC had as much as $13 million in the bank when Perry made his exit, and one donor in particular, Lone Star State tycoon Darwin Deason, would like to recoup his $5 million, his son, Doug, tells Politico.

Austin Barbour, a high-ranking leader of the PAC, is consulting with the PAC’s lawyers about what’s possible, and there’s little precedent to guide the group: Few super PACs have had this much cash after a candidate has dropped out, Politico notes. But Doug Deason is confident his dad will have his $5 million back soon, telling the site, “We have made it clear we expect the PAC to shut down and send the funds back. Austin is just being cautious to make sure it is all done properly and legally.“

5 Reasons Tonight’s GOP Debate Could Get Crazy

The Gilmer Free Press

The second Republican debate is tonight and nobody—least of all host network CNN, which describes it as “Round 2 of a heavyweight bout”—is pretending it’s going to be anything other than another episode of the Donald Trump Show. CNN is expecting a record audience for the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reports, and here are a few reasons why there could be more fireworks than in last month’s debate:

  • Overcrowding. “We’ve never had this many candidates on one stage, standing this close together, for so long,“ and unlike the last debate, “candidates will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder and constantly on camera,“ writes Mike Allen at Politico, wondering who will be caught “looking awkward/embarrassed/mad while being attacked” and if any of the candidates will physically touch each other.
  • Attacks on Trump. The frontrunner says he’ll be walking into a “lion’s den,“ Voice of America reports, and while not all of the 10 people sharing a stage with him can be expected to go on the attack, some have probably been practicing anti-Trump lines for weeks. Rand Paul, for one, tells CNN that he plans to go on the offensive and that his pre-debate prep will be going “out shooting target practice in the morning.“ His target: the tax code.
  • Carly Fiorina. She’s rising in the polls and moving to the main stage, and a lot of people are expecting a showdown tonight with Trump, who insulted her looks in a recent interview. “This is going to be a defining moment in Carly’s career,“ Fiorina supporter Boris Feldman tells the New York Times. “What’s selling tickets to this is the Trump-Carly card,“ he says. “Trump has a thing about anybody questioning him, but especially a woman.“
  • Desperation. “These debates are increasingly life-and-death moments for candidates who started out as the presumptive frontrunners” but no longer “control their own destiny,“ including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker, GOP strategist Steve Schmidt tells CNN. Schmidt says only Ben Carson is currently in reach of beating Trump. Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich will also be scrambling to make an impression, and those who fail may not make it to the next debate.
  • Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s legacy will loom large at the debate and candidates, including Trump, can probably expect to be asked why their position on immigration differs so much from that of Reagan, who granted amnesty to 2.7 million people. “How they handle that is very important,“ GOP pollster Frank Luntz tells USA Today. “Reagan was very much about America being a place where people can come and start a new life.“

Will Trump Be The Reasonable One In The Debate Bunch Tonight?

The Gilmer Free Press

When “Jeb!” Bush started campaigning for president, people starting asking, “Wait, was W the smart one?” Now the rest of the Republican candidates are causing people to ask, “Wait, is Trump the reasonable one?”

Wednesday night we will all get a chance to see the next round of the freak show. Who would have thought that Donald “Mexicans are rapists” Trump would stand out in the Republican field as the rational one? But consider this:

● Running second to Trump, Ben Carson wants to cut taxes on billionaires all the way to 10 percent, while requiring the poor to pay more. Along with the other Republican candidates, he denies the science behind climate change. Carson is the candidate who said, “Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way…” He also proposes letting tax-dodging corporations hoarding more than $2 trillion outside of U.S. out of paying most of the up-to-$700-plus billion they owe.
● Scott Walker is now campaigning almost entirely on destroying unions.
● The Jeb Bush tax plan gives a (another) huge ($3.4 trillion) tax cut to billionaires and corporations.
● John Kasich closed half of Ohio’s womens’ health clinics, forced Ohio women to get ultrasounds before an abortion, forced Ohio rape counseling centers to not mention abortion and demands that Congress defund Planned Parenthood, saying this is all a “Christian moral imperative.”
● Ted “Shut Down the Government” Cruz wants to shut down the government again over funding for Planned Parenthood. So does Bobby Jindal. So does Carly Fiorina.
● Even worse, Mike Huckabee would put the U.S. into default over the debt ceiling to defund Planned Parenthood. He would also give “due process” rights to fetuses.
● Carly Fiorina says “liberal politicians” caused California’s terrible drought.

This could go on and on – you get the idea: These people are nuts. In this crowd, Donald “Laziness Is a Trait in Blacks” Trump stands out as the reasonable one. Consider this:

● Trump says CEO pay is too high, even “disgraceful,” and his Republican voters love it.
● Trump says he was “strongly” against the Iraq war, and his Republican voters love it.
● Trump says cutting Social Security would not be fair to people who need it, and his Republican voters love it.
● Trump calls for raising taxes on hedge-fund managers, and his Republican voters love it.
● Trump is not blindly pro-“free trade” and has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and his Republican voters love it.
● Trump even says “single-payer” health care works elsewhere, and his Republican voters love it.
● Etc…

All of these go against conservative orthodoxy – and have helped propel Trump into the lead.

Trump’s Republican Base Rejects Conservative Ideology

During the first Republican debate, the moderators tried to turn the Republican audience against Trump by saying he goes against conservative ideology. “Mr. Trump, it’s not just your past support for single-payer health care. You’ve also supported a host of other liberal policies.” It didn’t work. Following the debate Trump’s support among Republicans surged.

For decades that Republican Party has run a game in which they get votes by feeding “red meat” to “the base” and then, once in office, pass tax cuts for the rich and grant favors for giant corporations while cutting the things government does to make people’s lives better. They offered weak cover stories to justify this economic assault on 99 percent of us, like “tax cuts increase government revenue,” “government takes money out of the economy,” “corporations making decisions is better than government making decisions,” “giving money to billionaires increases jobs.”

Meanwhile the things they promised the base (based on racism, nativism, theocracy) were never actually enacted because they needed to be kept around as red-meat issues for the next election. A significant portion of the Republican electorate finally got fed up with being played.

So along comes Trump, challenging this corporate-conservative orthodoxy on economic issues while still brandishing many of the red-meat policies on social issues the Republican establishment has used to get the votes. Trump is exposing that the Republican base is not as locked into the conservative dogma of trickle-down, austerity economics as the Republicans establishment leadership would have us believe.

Trump goes where the base has been trained to go, combined with obvious popular positions. And he is able to do this because he’s able to self-fund his campaign.

Trump doesn’t offer actual solutions. He says, “I’ll just do it.” He says “I’m rich.” (See inside some of his mansions here.) He says of his competitors, “They’re all stupid.”

Trump’s basic message is, “I’ll make the trains run on time.” This sounds great compared to the rest of them, who say, “I’ll destroy the government, launch endless wars, deny basic scientific and economic facts and give everything of value to a few billionaires.” Who would have thought there could be a gathering that makes Donald “if Ivanka Weren’t My Daughter, Perhaps I’d Be Dating Her” Trump look good. We’ll see how this holds up at Wednesday’s 2nd Republican debate. 

P.S. By the way, why haven’t there been any Democratic debates?

~~  Dave Johnson ~~


The Gilmer Free Press

CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the appointment of Delegate Bob Ashley to represent residents of the 3rd District in the West Virginia Senate. Ashley’s appointment fills the vacancy created when former Senator David C. Nohe resigned to serve on the West Virginia Parole Board.

The governor’s appointment is effective immediately.

A graduate of Marshall University, Ashley is the owner of Ashley Insurance Agency in Spencer, West Virginia.

In addition, he is a member of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Board of Directors for Roane General Hospital.

A former member of the state School Building Authority, he also served as a Delegate-at-Large to the Republican National Convention in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2012.

In 1984, he was elected to serve in the West Virginia House of Delegates, where he served consecutive terms until 1998. In 2000, he was elected again and has served for the past 15 years. He served as Minority Whip in the 70th and 71st Legislatures and Republican Leader in the 72nd and 73rd Legislatures.

He lives in Spencer, WV with his wife, Anita Harold.

Political News

The Gilmer Free Press

Bernie Sanders Speaks ... to Evangelicals

Bernie Sanders may be running for the Democratic presidential nomination, but that didn’t stop him from addressing a group of Christian conservative students today. Sanders appeared at Liberty University, the Virginia evangelical college founded by Jerry Falwell, the Hill reports. “A Southern evangelical university is an unlikely place for a socialist-leaning Jew from Brooklyn to spend his Rosh Hashanah, and yet that’s how Senator Bernie Sanders is passing his high holiday Monday,“ MSNBC leads off its article, which also notes that the university calls for a “total rejection of socialism.“ How was he received by the audience of about 12,000? The Hill reports that a “small throng” of his supporters did a lot of cheering, and mostly there was a “muted” response. But when he called for fighting back against racism and finding common ground, he earned cheers from “a much wider group.“

He quoted some scripture, talked at length about economic inequality (to not many cheers, the Hill notes), and took questions after his speech. One of those had to do with abortion; USA Today reports that a university senior vice president “drew loud applause” when he asked about it, but that Sanders’ response also drew applause: “Very often conservatives say, ‘Get the government out of my life.‘ ... I respect absolutely a family that says, ‘No, we are not going to have an abortion.‘ But I would hope that other people respect the very painful and difficult choice that many women feel they have to make and don’t want the government telling them what they have to do.“ The New York Times reports that Sanders mentioned that he’s motivated by the Golden Rule and quoted Pope Francis, and notes that he was “greeted with polite, if tepid, applause” from students, while supporters who traveled from afar to attend were much more enthusiastic. The Washington Post has his full speech.

Trump’s Running a Weird Campaign and He Knows It

“Let Trump Be Trump” is the sign that hangs in the presidential candidate’s campaign headquarters in his eponymous NYC tower, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the Donald’s staffers are letting him do anything but that. The real-estate tycoon has coasted to the top of the polls with his brash, unapologetic style, and nothing he’s done has been conventional, per a Wall Street Journal article that deems him a “one-man roadshow.“ He operates with a handpicked skeleton staff, enjoys doing his own media, hasn’t spoken publicly about his positions on myriad topics—right now, only immigration reform is covered on his website—and rejects what he calls “political hacks,“ instead leaning on outside advisers (including his daughter, Ivanka) who appear to be champing at the bit to offer him their suggestions and services, per his campaign manager.

“A lot of what I’m doing is by instinct,“ Trump tells the Journal. “I assimilate a lot of information.“ Some strategists wonder, though, if Trump will soon have to acquiesce to campaigning conventions as his celebrity sheen wears off. He is taking some steps “normal” candidates take, such as readying offices in other states, prepping ballot-access drives, and working not only on a tax plan, but also initiatives dealing with veterans’ issues, health care, and trade, per the Journal. But he still doesn’t place too much stock in those, noting to the paper, “People don’t care about seeing plans. They have confidence in me.“ As for those picking his eccentric strategy apart, Trump welcomes the challenge. “I hope they attack me, because everybody who attacks me is doomed,“ he tells the paper. (Read more about Trump’s unorthodox approach in the Journal.)

Amid Trump bombast, quiet Ben Carson rises in GOP 2016 field

LOS ANGELES, CA — Amid all the bombast in the Republican race for president, Ben Carson comes across more like a whisper.

He is, in some ways, the anti-Trump — a gentle candidate who lets his record as a renowned brain surgeon speak for itself. The bragging about his resume and place in the polls, on the rare occasions it comes, is delivered with none of the superlatives that Donald Trump can’t seem to go without.

Yet the 63-year-old Republican, the only African-American seeking the White House in 2016 — has tapped into the same wave of anti-establishment outrage fueling the billionaire realty TV star’s rise.

“The likelihood of someone like me getting through this process and making it to president is virtually impossible,“ Carson told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “I just have to be myself. And if being myself resonates with the American people, then they will choose me.

“And if it doesn’t,“ he said, “they will choose somebody else.“

Like Trump, Carson was dismissed early as a gaffe-prone novice lacking a national profile and any significant political network. But he appears to be connecting with Republican voters at a rate that even his closest aides didn’t predict.

Heading into Wednesday night’s second debate of the GOP contest, Carson finds himself alongside Trump atop the field.

A New York Times/CBS News poll released Tuesday shows Carson favored by 23 percent of likely Republican primary voters compared to Trump’s 27 percent. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, meanwhile, have plummeted to 6 percent and 2 percent respectively.

It should be noted the poll found that 63 percent said they could change their minds before the primaries begin with the Iowa caucuses in February.

Yet it was just one of several in recent days that feature the political rookies Trump and Carson leading a field of veterans of elected office, offering the clearest example yet that Republican voters have deep frustrations with the political establishment.

It shows in Carson’s fundraising, too. His campaign says it has raised $5 million so far this month, adding to the $9 million it pulled in during July and August — a strong performance at what is typically one of the hardest times for candidates to raise money.

Wednesday night offers Carson a new chance to build on that momentum. A stage full of Republican candidates will face off at the Reagan Presidential Library for the party’s second formal debate. Carson emerged from the first as a surprise success, his popularity fueled by his nice-guy image on a night when his competitors came out swinging.

Yet he remains rough around the edges and has little experience with issues beyond health care and business, particularly foreign policy in an election where international affairs are a major part of the discussion.

“He’s memorized every nerve in the body, he can memorize the top 12 terrorists in the world,“ said Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett, dismissing any concerns.

His team hopes to use any additional airtime he’ll get Wednesday night to highlight Carson’s biography.

He rose from the streets of inner-city Detroit to be head of pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital. The story inspired a television movie and gives Carson unique standing in a Republican Party often criticized as the party of older, wealthy, white men.

Carson briefly focused on race late last week by touring Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis suburb hit by rioting after a white police officer shot a black teen. After the tour, however, Carson condemned the “Black Lives Matter” movement and said the nation should “de-emphasize race” and instead “emphasize respect.“

A religious conservative, Carson said he’d prefer the movement change its name to “All black lives matter” — to include the unborn children of black women who have abortions. Better yet, he said, the group would change its name to simply, “All lives matter.“

He’s expected to focus on party unity on the debate stage after declining to respond to his competitors’ jabs in recent days.

“Trump will be Trump, Ben will be Ben, and the contrast couldn’t be clearer,“ Bennett said.

In contrast to other campaigns, no one has been playing Trump during Carson’s debate preparation sessions, which are somewhat unusual. Bennett described an all-day “knowledge session” Monday in which experts delivered presentations on various domestic and foreign policy topics.

“They don’t pepper him with questions, he peppers them,“ the campaign manager said.

And while Carson doesn’t focus on race, his campaign suggests his status as the only African-American in the contest is a political asset.

“In a crowd of 17 candidates, it is important that you can differentiate yourself in as many ways as possible,“ Bennett said. “He’s soft-spoken, he’s African-American and he’s a doctor.“

The campaign has begun running TV ads in Iowa and New Hampshire promoting Carson’s biography. And it’s looking to expand a paid staff of 80 now divided between the campaign’s suburban Washington headquarters and early voting states across the country.

The political establishment remains skeptical of his chances, but Carson doesn’t seem to mind.

“My whole life people have told me you can’t do this, no one’s ever done this before, this is impossible,“ he said. “I don’t even get charged up until I hear those words.“

The Pope Is Coming To Address The Republican Congress

The Pope Is Coming To Address The Republican Congress

Boy, Do They Wish They Could Take Back That Invitation
The Gilmer Free Press
5 Ways Pope Francis Has Recently Caused Conservative Christians’ Heads to Explode

Congressional Republicans invited Pope Benedict XVI to address Congress a while ago. Boy, do they wish they could rescind that invitation now that the much more progressive Pope Francis is gearing up to come to Washington on September 24.

The people’s ope has been on a tear lately, one week suggesting that women who have had abortions might be forgiven, the next week saying there might be room in the church for divorced people, and fast-tracking the annulment process.

All this forgiveness seems downright un-Christian to the conservative right, both here, and Vatican observers say, within the church hierarchy where a culture war and conservative backlash is brewing. What has conservatives in such a tizzy? The pope had already implied that atheists who live a moral life might find a way into heaven, and declined to pass judgment on gay people (literally, he said, “Who am I to judge?“). This forgiving, inclusive and compassionate church is not the one conservatives signed up for. 

Let’s review some of the more “radical” things the progressive pontiff has said and done just in the last few months that have set the right-wing’s blood boiling anew. 


1. Pope Francis said it is our moral duty to address climate change.

The pope’s encyclical on climate change in June was a groundbreaking document and the call to arms the environmental movement has been longing for. It told the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics — and everyone else for that matter — that it is our moral duty to save the earth from this ongoing manmade destruction. The encyclical helped close the gap between science and religion, and pointed out that the world’s most vulnerable citizens suffer the brunt of climate instability. It also called out capitalism, consumerism and greed as primary culprits for the earth’s destruction.

Sure enough, the encyclical was taken as sacrilege among prominent Republican Catholics here at home, including Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum, who suggested the pope leave science to the scientists, which of course, is precisely what he did. Conservatives like Jeb Bush did not appreciate the swipe at his one true religion, capitalism. “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope,” he told his supporters at the time.

Climate change has amazingly and depressingly become the most contentious issue in America, more so than abortion, according to recent polling from the Carsey Institute. At least the pope is on the correct side of this inexplicably polarizing issue.


2. Pope Francis said women who have had abortions can be absolved of their “sin.”

The pope did not go quite so far as to suggest that abortion is not a mortal sin, but he did go where no pope has gone before when he recently announced a year of mercy (starting this December) during which women who have had abortions can seek and be granted absolution. Repentance is, however, a prerequisite. It’s not a full-on feminist victory or anything, but it is a tiny step.

That did not go over well among our rabid anti-abortion (and it seems, anti-forgiveness) wing like Huckabee, Cruz, Santorum and Walker, for starters. And once again, Jeb Bush found himself disagreeing with and even lecturing the leader of his faith, suggesting that if anyone deserves mercy, it isn’t those sinful women, it’s the “unborn.” Bush did like the sound of repentant women, though, and gave lip service to being pro-mercy.


3. Pope Francis called unfettered capitalism the “dung of the devil.”

You have to love Pope Francis’ way with words. On a July visit to Bolivia and its left-leaning leader, the pope denounced the “new colonialism” in which richer countries and international banks impose austerity programs on developing nations. In a sweeping speech that sounded quasi-socialist, the pope said the poor have the “sacred rights” to labor, lodging and land. He again called for a halt to the destruction of the earth before it is too late, destruction that disproportionately affects the world’s poor.

Needless to say, conservatives did not care for the pope’s description of capitalism as Lucifer’s fecal material.

The integration of environmental, economic and moral issues puts the pope on a par with some of the deeper and more radical thinkers of our time, like Naomi Klein, who recently gave a shout-out to Francis as a role model of the kind of transformational leader the world needs now.


4. Pope Francis rejected creationism.

For a man of the cloth, Pope Francis has a refreshing admiration for science. The world witnessed that with his encyclical on the environment, where he threw his lot in with science. We saw it again when he said one can be a good Catholic and believe in evolution and the Big Bang, and that neither are incompatible with the existence of a creator.

Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences recently, the pope said, “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so.“

It’s a tough communion wafer to swallow for Bobby Jindal and other right-wing creationism advocates.


5. Pope Francis made it easier and cheaper to get marriages annulled.

It was a small bureaucratic change in some ways, but it spoke volumes about forgiveness, the recognition that families have changed, and making more people feel welcome in the Catholic hurch. On September 8, the Vatican unveiled new rules to make it easier, faster and less costly to obtain an annulment. Both of Francis’ predecessor’s, John Paul II and Benedict XVI had gone in exactly the opposite direction, consigning the miserable in marriage to eternal togetherness, or living in sin.

“This is a 180-degree change in direction,” James Bretzke, a professor of theology at Boston College, told the Guardian. “Francis has shown us over and over again his [different approach], which is, let’s look at the people in the pews, in the barrios, in the field, and let’s respond to them in their existential needs.“

An easier, less intimidating annulment process is one thing, but the even larger and more contentious issue is whether the Church will ease its stance on divorced Catholics, and whether they can take communion. That and other issues affecting the modern family will be discussed at a meeting of the Synod of Bishops next month. But the annulment move makes it seem a lot more possible that communion for the divorced may be on its way.

American conservatives were pretty quiet about this change, probably because many of them have been divorced and remarried multiple times (Kim Davis), so that would be pretty hypocritical.

~~  Janet Allon ~~

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