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Should the Pollsters Pick the Candidates? Gary Johnson Excluded from Iowa Debate

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FoxNews is the main sponsor of the upcoming Iowa Republican presidential debate being held on August 11th in conjunction with the Ames straw poll. Going into the debate they laid out some basic rules, in conjunction with the Iowa Republican Party, for who could participate. Candidates had to be:

“1. Registered with the Federal Elections Commission as a presidential exploratory committee or presidential campaign

2. Meet all U.S. Constitutional requirements

3. Garnered at least an average of one percent in five national polls based on most recent polling leading up to the registration day.”

Pretty straightforward stuff. And based on these criteria I was one of many who assumed that New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson would be included in the debate. In the polls of declared candidates which have included him during the past month he has scored 1% or more and he obviously meets the other requirements.

Yet today the FoxNews website suggests that Johnson will not be included in the debate, saying:

“Johnson’s low poll numbers make him ineligible for next week’s Fox News debate in Iowa. He wasn’t allowed to participate in CNN’s New Hampshire debate either. The latest polls show him with less than 1 percent of voters.”

Yet, as was the case with the last New Hampshire debate, the only basis on which Johnson can reasonably be said to not meet these criteria is if you count him as failing to receive 1% or more in polls in which he was not actually included as an option, and in those polls results like “someone else” get 2% or more, suggesting that participants might have selected Johnson had they been given the option.

If you look at the actual polls taken during the month of July (there have been no polls in August) there were 9 major polls conducted and here is how Johnson fared:

PPP – Not Included
Rasmussen – Not Included
Pew – Not Included

Gallup – Not Included
CNN – 1%
Fox – 1%
ABC – Not Included
NBC – Not Included
Quinnipiac – Not Included

So in the only polls where he was included he received 1%, including in Fox’s own poll. But since only two polls asked about him it was impossible for him to have 5 qualifying polls.  It’s also troubling that many of these polls included as yet undeclared candidates like Thadeus McCotter or Rick Perry but left Johnson out, despite the fact that he is actively fundraising and campaigning and has an established nationwide following.

It’s not unreasonable to conclude from the polls in which he was included and from polls in previous months that had Johnson actuallly been listed in the other 7 polls taken in July he would have scored 1% or more in at least 3 of them, thus meeting the requirement.  But if people are not allowed to vote for him then he is being excluded based not on his popularity but on the decision of the pollsters not to include his name.

This, unfortunately, raises the question of motive.  Why would a two term governor with a nationwide following who is better qualified than many of the oither candidates and was included in most of the polls just a couple of months ago, be left out of these critical polls when there is no indication that his support has declined.  The only answer that I can think of is that Johnson’s particular brand of Republican politics, which could be characterized as moderately libertarian doesn’t fit the image of the Republican party which the media groups sponsoring the polls wants to see on display.

Johnson’s pragmatic views have the potential to be enormously appealing to independents and to crossover Democrats who are unhappy with the war on drugs and if he were to be the Republican nominee he might stand a much better chance of beating President Obama than other candidates who the media favors more.  Johnson doesn’t fit the definition of a Republican candidate which the media wants to present.  They want stark contrasts.  They want their Republicans to be Bible-thumping, warmongering, homophobic, corporatist extremists, and Johnson is none of those things.  He’s a sensible politician with good ideas who could launch the kind of radical renewal in the party you saw with Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900s.  He defies conventions and would return the GOP to a more traditional set of Republican values which would be much harder for Democrats and the media to campaign against.

I can’t swear that someone in the backroom of a bar in DC sat a group of pollsters down and told them “let’s bury Johnson by pretending he doesn’t exist.”  But it sure looks like the only thing keeping him out of the debates and out of being able to compete on an equal footing with other candidates is someone’s decision not to give him a fighting chance by leaving him out of the polls.

As a Republican I find this situation outrageous.  I want Republican voters to have the chance to hear the best and most diverse selection of candidates in our debates and to then get to vote on all of the contenders, not just a pre-selected group.  What I certainly don’t want – and I hope other Republicans would feel the same way – is for pollsters and the media to decide which candidates I get to choose from and exclude some of them based on criteria which I never signed off on.  Who runs the Republican party?  I hope it’s the grassroots members and the people we elect to party offices.  It certainly isn’t ABC, NBC or Gallup and we sure didn’t authorize them to pick our presidential candidate. 

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About Marc Tully

  • Any suggestions on what we might do to put pressure on Fox News to include Gary Johnson in the upcoming debate?

  • natschultz

    They did the exact same thing to Ron Paul last time around – The Dems (Mainstream media) labeled him a “racist” when they realized his TRUE anti-war stance put Obama at risk, and Fox totally blackballed him from the network.

    The irony is that Fox actually criticized CNN for excluding Johnson from the last debate based on such crummy criteria.

    I say Pawlenty should be excluded – that guy has not gotten over 3% in any poll, yet it is IMPOSSIBLE to watch any cable news channel without seeing him on virtually every single day!

  • Kris Keller

    I fully agree with everything in the article,I lean even more so toward the cospiracy theory.This is an outrage,after cnn excluded Gary from their debate,Fox news came around acting like they give a damn,interviewing him everywhere,all the while,stabbing hm in the back.What can we do to stop the mainstream media from picking and choosing who they want us to see,and who’s ideas they want us to hear,by continously excluding the most qualified man for the position?

  • Thadeus McCotter declared already.

  • When was he labeled a racist? I haven’t heard that one.

  • I think McCotter hadn’t declared at the time of the only poll which includes him.


  • Baronius

    I’m with this article through the first page, but after that things go sour. Remember the Beatles’ song “Revolution”. Extremism alienates people. This is something the Ron Paulers never understood – although, to be fair, no one understands it when they first get involved in politics. People get involved out of idealism, and when that idealism isn’t satisfied it turns into disillusionment.

    It’s up to the candidate and his supporters to make the campaign so big that even political reporters can’t miss it. Political reporters are tiny people who live sheltered lives, always 18 months behind every emerging trend. These are people who think that Rosie O’Donnell was pretty cutting-edge on The View. Every candidate has to overcome them, and if your guy can’t, he’s not going anywhere. But don’t convince yourself that they’re conspiring against you. They’re not. They’re too lazy.

  • While there were empty threats, Ron Paul was never excluded from the debates back in 2008. He’s gotten much better treatment than Johnson has. And I think the media enjoys putting him on TV moreso than Johnson because at least Ron brings and ratings and can be labeled a nut by maintstream media types. Gary Johnson is less well known, but comes across much more credible because, unlike Ron Paul, he has actual executive experience that allows him to articulate how he would actually put libertarian ideas into real public policy. Ron Paul, on the other hand, is too theoretical, and too easily sidetracked by peripheral issues such as the NAFTA Superhighway or whether we should have fought the Civil War. This undermines his credibility and the ability of regular people to take him more seriously.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius #7 –

    Well said.

  • Dan, I think you’ve got it right. The idea of Johnson as a Republican is a lot more intimidating than Ron Paul because he’s harder to dismiss as just a fringe candidate. It’s quite possible the media wants Paul to remain prominent because they think it weakens the Republican party as a whole.


  • zingzing

    baronius: “Political reporters are tiny people who live sheltered lives, always 18 months behind every emerging trend.”

    do you believe that? if so, do you think yourself ahead?

  • zingzing

    if you think yourself a year and a half ahead, i wonder what your take is, baronius. where’s the heat? gimme the pulse. is it all right wing? i’d bet it is.

  • What political reporter thought Rosie O’Donnell was pretty cutting edge?

  • Rosie’s cutting edge, cutting remarks spice up The View

    Although technically David Bauder isn’t a political reporter; he’s a media reporter who just writes a lot about politics.

  • Baronius

    Zing, after the 2010 elections I was saying that President Obama was going to have a rebound, in fact already had started to, and the evidence was the fact that the press was saying he was declining in popularity. It doesn’t matter whether the next big thing is from the right, left, or middle, the press isn’t going to figure it out until it’s been around for a while.

    Look at their reporting about the debt limit deal. They believed the August 2nd deadline. They bought the totals that were being bandied around, not mentioning that they were estimated changes in the base-line budget over ten years. Today they’re saying that our debt rating was lowered because of the length and heatedness of the negotiations, but not because of the results.

  • Political pundits don’t monolithically say the same thing. And some are obviously smarter and more interesting than others. I don’t know where Baronius gets his news, but I doubt he actually reads political pundits regularly — thus the ridiculous and counterfactual generalization.

    To name just one, Ezra Klein [Washington Post/Bloomberg/MSNBC] wrote excellent coverage of the debt crisis that does not conform to Baronius’s caricature in the least.

    And it was S&P themselves who gave primarily a political reason for the downgrade: they believe the political stalemate/paralysis in Washington makes meaningful action difficult or impossible.

    Of course, the real impact of the S&P action came yesterday: as investors sold massive amounts of stocks they were buying…massive amounts of US Treasuries, driving the interest rates on those bonds to record lows. That’s right — S&P’s downgrade actually helped the market for the bonds that were downgraded.

  • Baronius

    Zing, just in case I didn’t fully articulate my point, let me add something. I don’t think that I’m prophetic. I hope that I see politics objectively (although I have subjective feelings about it too). If something happens today, I’ll try to understand it. The press, due to its laziness, bias, and orientation toward entertainment over fact, has created a barrier between itself and objective analysis that prevents it from appraising a development quickly, or sometimes at all.

  • That’s nonsense. You’d have to read the press to have an informed opinion about it. From the evidence of your comments on here, I don’t believe you do. You talk about “the press” as if it’s all one entity.

  • Baronius

    Well, yes, Handy, it is a generalization. But I think it’s apt.

    As for Standard & Poors,

    “The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.

    “More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.”

  • KrisKeller

    Gary Johnson for President 2012,is THE BEST MAN FOR THE JOBSSSSSS!

  • Well, as long as you think it’s apt, then that’s just hunky dory.

    You still offer no evidence….because you don’t consume much [any?] of what you are criticizing so inaccurately.

  • Baronius

    You’re kidding, right? When I mention specifics, you tell me I’m nitpicking; when I speak generally, you complain about my lack of specifics. We’ve been talking about press bias for years on this site. From “straight” journalism to “opinion” journalism, to whatever you want to call Jon Stewart, we’ve talked about FNC, MSNBC, and CNN, the NYT editorial writers, the major networks’ news broacasts, Newsweek and Time, Air America and Rush Limbaugh, and every other media outlet I can think of. I have had more conversations about specifics of press coverage of politics on this site than I’ve written about any other thing, anywhere (except for my Twilight/Buffy crossover fanfic – nothing surpasses my output there). I don’t know what to say, Handy. You’ve left me baffled.

  • I believe you have beliefs about the press. I just don’t think you read the press. If you do, then your perceptions about what is reported are warped, and the way you describe them on here is so caricatured as to be meaningless. Your comment #7 is absurdly off the mark, as zing pointed out.

    The news reporting of, say, the NY Times may be biased from your point of view, but it certainly isn’t ’18 months behind.’ The analysis of columnists varies widely in quality; there are good ones and bad ones. [I mentioned one very good one above; check him out.] So what’s the point of making negative generalizations that cover all reporters and all columnists, as if they are all identical?

    Citing a few actual examples of reporting or columns that are 18 months behind the trend would go a long way toward backing up your silly assertion.

  • Handyboy’s recommended columnist, Ezra Klein, thinks the Constitution is too hard to understand because it was written, like, 100 years ago or something.

  • RJ has at least one talent: for finding right-wing blog posts that slander liberals. Now actually reading any of Klein’s columns and coming to his own conclusions…that would be too much work. And not so, um, har-har funny in , that chortling, creepy Rush Limbaugh kinda way.

    On the evidence of Klein’s columns and RJ’s posts on BC, I would estimate Ezra’s IQ to be, oh, 50-60 points higher.

    The video clip which supposedly demonstrates Klein’s inability to understand the Constitution is, of course, instead intended to refer to other people [Tea Partiers perhaps, who carry a copy around and treat it as scripture] who regularly misinterpret the document, their reading and comprehension abilities being, shall we say, limited.

  • zingzing

    apparently, people sometimes have trouble interpretting the constitution. people have been coming to wildly different conclusions about its meaning for a long time. or so i hear.

  • zingzing

    heh. i couldn’t watch the video from where i’m at, but i had a sneaking suspicion that whatever rj was trying to point out was something very different from what was actually said.

  • 25:

    Yeah, linking to a video of Ezra Klein making an ass out of himself is “slander.” Gotcha.

    By the way, handyboy, Tea Party supporters are more educated than the general public. But don’t let minor, unimportant things like facts influence your opinion at all.

    You may now recommence your worship of Ezra Klein, the super-genius behind JournoList who apparently never considered that those conversations might be made public.

  • It is a shame that the GOP has come to this point in history: no platform, no candidate and no future. It is a great day to be a Republican because nature abhors a vacuum. So there is both time and room for reform that can only come from what Nixon called “the great silent majority,” where true leadership will emerge for a future election cycle.

    Hating Obama is easy. Trashing the US economy for political gain is indictable, anti-Constitutional and unworthy of an opposition party. Only the polls make it look interesting instead of contemptible.

    By the way, Gallup has conducted a poll. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

    It will be interesting to see how much money is spent in financing the self-destruction of the former Whig Party. I suggest prayer for the Republican Party. So does it.


  • zingzing

    rj, if you really think that klein was saying what you seem to be saying he was saying, well… comprehension isn’t your (or that website’s) strong suit.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, Tommy –

    Trashing the US economy for political gain is indictable, anti-Constitutional and unworthy of an opposition party.

    But the Republican party has ZERO incentive to improve the economy, as I pointed out in this article.

  • RJ has no interest, as usual, in the truth about anything. He doesn’t know squat about Ezra Klein, but he likes the idea of insulting liberals, as frequently and rudely as possible. Party on, bud. You are a bore.

  • Here ya go, handy. I stockpile these, just for you.

  • Liberals are easy targets for Republican sympathizers. That’s why I carry the ACLU card, because freedom cannot protect itself.

    Glenn may not be correct, however. If Republicans are literally selling the US short by devaluing its market value for that purpose, it’s criminal. The tea party representatives would be racketeers. But there is nothing to gain by arguing which is more stupid — being disingenuous or just dishonest.


  • Jerry

    What polls are including McCotter? I haven’t found any mainstream ones yet and I really wanted to see him.

  • Cannonshop

    I wonder how many of the “Not Included” polls were drafted before Gary Johnson tossed his hat in the ring? Also, I wonder if Mr. Johnson’s base of support is, perhaps, actually not that big, as in maybe he’s not very well known outside of a narrow community of supporters, whom aren’t particularly vocal and visible??

    It doesn’t have to be a “Conspiracy”, it could just be plain old incompetence, or it could be that the man’s supporters need to get out and make some noise…do some doorknocking, put up signs, etc.

    #34 Tommy, you have to remember: to Contrarian, Republicans Are Criminals, just unindicted. He is a believer in vast, Right-Wing Conspiracies, even when there isn’t any evidence of them beyond allegation, even when those conspiracies would have to be doing suicidally stupid things for his speculations to be correct.
    Thanks to his upbringing in the toxic politics and culture of the Southeastern U.S., anyone to the right of the Party is a Bigoted, Racist, Criminal who wants to starve Grandma and prostitute your kids.

    it’s who he is, it’s how he was raised, there’s just no dealing with it beyond smile-and-nod-and-back-away-slowly.

  • Baronius

    That’s right, Cannon. The press was willing to cover Giuliani far out of proportion to the votes he actually received, and he was no Bible-thumping Republican cliche. And what about Arnold Schwarzenegger – there’s a guy who doesn’t fit the mold, and he got positive press, at least at the beginning of his political career. The press loved McCain during the 2008 primaries because he ran against the religious right in 2000, and could always be counted on for pro-immigration, anti-supply-side sound bites.

  • Baronius

    Also, Ron Paul gave a pro-heroin statement at the last debate (at least as far as the press understood it). Supporting marijuana is kind of anti-climactic.

  • If I have learned anything from reading postings here:

    [1] Any sentence by Baronius that begins “The press…” may be safely ignored, because it will contain nothing with any factual basis, only ideological assumptions and assertions.

    [2] Cannon has promulgated dozens of conspiracy theories in the comments section during the last couple of years [about the educated corporate class in both parties versus the good common working man; about Bradley Manning’s superiors allowing his leaks so they would embarrass the Obama administration; and LBJ escalating the Vietnam war purely for economic reasons], yet has no self-awareness about this tendency to fantasize — and will in fact actually accuse others like Glenn of conspiracy fantasy, psychoanalyzing a ridiculous “explanation” of Glenn’s liberalism.

  • I don’t know that there will be too many debates to which Ron Paul AND Gary Johnson will BOTH be invited. One or the other, not both. Giving them both a voice makes the goals these men share (such as following the Global Commission on Drug Policy’s recommendation to end the War on Drugs) seem too mainstream.

  • And well may you ask, “What the heck is the Global Commission on Drug Policy?” as there has been in the US media very little attention paid to it or the movement in Mexico (where 38K have been killed in the War on Drugs in the last 5 years) to end the War on drugs.

  • Portugal was the first European country to decriminalize use and possession of illicit drugs, including heroin, in July 2001. Ten years later, a study by Hughes and Stevens showed that heroin use had actually decreased. The conclusion: the Portugese criminal justice system was freed up to address drug-related criminality with more effective therapeutic programs. The report can be found on the website of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

  • Now, what motivation could the US press POSSIBLY have for 1)spiking stories that reveal the true nature of the devastation the War on Drugs is having south of the border and 2) (in conjunction with the privately run and corporately funded Commission on Presidential Debates) limiting the strength of voices of candidates who are opposed to the War on Drugs.

    Those are questions I’d actually be interested in listening to DEMOCRATS toss back and forth amongst one another. Obama supporters were promised that he’d end the War on Drugs, and I don’t know if he’s changed his mind on that since getting into office, or just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. Hillary Clinton was and is very much opposed to discontinuing the War on Drugs. Barney Frank seems to be one of the most stalwart Democratic voices against the War on Drugs, and has in fact stood with Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in their recent efforts to legalize marijuana.

  • Jordan, I’d wanted DEMOCRATS (43) to talk about ending the War on Drugs, because it looks like the issue is going to be only at the margins, if anywhere, in the Republican debates.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Gotcha. I had no idea you were talking about another thread. Can’t follow them all. 🙂

  • Cannonshop

    #44 Irene, the difference is, it’s in the Republican side of the house, because the Left has become increasingly entrenched in statist and “law and order” politics domestically, to the point of bending over backward to defend the actions of Agencies against Citizens…

    Which has driven a lot of the civil liberties type people away from Democrat politics.

    #39 Handy, the difference is, When I point out federal misdeeds, it’s after the agency in question has not only proudly admitted to it (Operation: Fast and Furious, Waco, Ruby Ridge). I don’t sit there and speculate on some vast right wing conspiracy after a politician as frankly goofy as John Kerry loses an election, nor did I sit there and howl about Federal malfeasance when Obie was elected.

    I know it’s hard for you to separate sometimes, but further, when I crack about ‘classes’, it’s generally an attempt to put things into terms and frames of reference that Leftists might understand.

    further, “When the choice is between Incompetence with good motives, and Malignant Conspiracy”, I tend to view well-meaning incompetence as the more likely of the two. It takes a hell of a lot to convince me that any conspirators could actually manage anything significant in this day and age.

    For instance, you mention my rants about Manning-those were, largely, pointing out that his Chain of Command did not do their job-which is obvious, it’s obvious enough even Glenn Contrarian (whom will argue with me about the colour of the sky, shape of the moon, and whether the ocean is wet) agreed, largely, and even put forth a relatively accurate picture of what likely went on outside the glass eye of the Newsmedia regarding it.

    When I crack it might have been deliberate, it’s not serious. The rampant non-professionalism that would have to exist for that to BE serious, we only see in civilian agencies where actual results aren’t really required, such as Dept. of Justice or any of the other alphabet agencies.

    The Military, on the other hand, requires the production of RESULTS. it’s a much stricter environment than your civilian agencies are.

    As for my cracks about Rangel and Geithner-they both got caught, they both had to pay up after getting caught, neither had to pay to the extent that someone OUTSIDE of government would have, under the same conditions. The irony in Rangel’s case, is that he sat on Ways and Means for years before he chaired it, he SHOULD have known the laws he was writing well enough to comply with them. Geithner’s joke is that here we have a man who can’t figure out a 1040 or 1099, and he’s in charge of collecting revenue for the U.S. Government.

    In both cases, they’re examples of rampant hypocrisy-and cases for the need to simplify the Tax Code and make it easier to comply with and enforce by making it clear and unambiguous. They’re also both big backers of increasing taxation, so that makes them hypocrites and amusing ones at that.

    Still not a Conspiracy. Just Idiocy, Incompetence, Blundering, Ass-covering banal boring behaviours of the wealthy and powerful-among those whose wealth is largely un-earned except in how they’ve accumulated that power.

  • Your comments are sooo long, bud. Conciseness is more reader friendly.

  • C-shop, you’re right. The Demognats are not bitin’. They’re (47) not even lightin’.

  • DemoCRats! sorry! *swats at that persistently naggiing cutesiness* I will sit in respectful silence while DemoCRats continue discussing the issue that had been so important to some of them during the last presidential campaign.

  • The guvvermunt (of whatever stripe) needs the War on Drugs. The Cold one fizzled out and the Communist Chinese would, exasperatingly, rather sell us things than militarily menace us. There needs to be a spare War on the back burner in case the one on Terror ever gets “won”.

    Got to have a reason to keep those pitchforks polished and torches burning. Otherwise the Great Unwashed might actually start paying attention and realizing that politicians bollocks things up a lot.

    It’s kind of cute that they don’t know we already know this.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    to Contrarian, Republicans Are Criminals, just unindicted. He is a believer in vast, Right-Wing Conspiracies, even when there isn’t any evidence of them beyond allegation, even when those conspiracies would have to be doing suicidally stupid things for his speculations to be correct.
    Thanks to his upbringing in the toxic politics and culture of the Southeastern U.S., anyone to the right of the Party is a Bigoted, Racist, Criminal who wants to starve Grandma and prostitute your kids.

    There you go again, blowing things way the heck out of proportion just to fit your political preference of perception.

    I never said ANYthing like that. What I DID say – if you’d bother to read instead of ASSUME – is:

    The Republican cognoscenti know that we have a lower tax burden now than we’ve had since Truman was president. They know that billions in subsidies to big oil are very unpopular, even within their own party. They know that tax breaks for corporate jets make no sense to the American voter when teachers are being laid off. They know full well that during the recent debt ceiling debate, polls repeatedly showed that a majority of Republicans agreed that any debt deal should include tax increases on the wealthy.

    I went on to point out that the Republicans in Congress are readily ignoring the opinions and wishes of the rank-and-file of their party, not because they don’t want to help America, but because if they did so, Obama and the Democrats would get the credit, and we would have a solidly-established pattern of Dems pulling America out of Republican economic boondoggles. As I said, Republicans (meaning the politicians) have ZERO incentive to help bring America’s economy back to health.

    But YOU, Cannonshop, would rather assume that I’m declaring that Republican=criminal, that I don’t think things through, that I’m somehow the antithesis to all that is good and true in this world.

    It would be really nice if you didn’t go off half-cocked with your crude, insulting, and wrongheaded assumptions whenever something somebody says doesn’t fit your worldview.

  • I hope all of you are proud of me for staying out of this so far… Simply put, I see no reason to slog it out with foaming-at-the-mouth Fox News whores and Teabaggers, neither of which have minds of their own.

    I hope they don’t take my liberal membership card away because I’m predudiced againd Fox News…

  • Cannonshop

    #51 Glenn…there you go with the conspiracy theories again, even to the point of ignoring the results of the 1994 election, wherein Republican Politicians proceeded to fail to deliver on every single promise they made in their ‘contract with america’ platform.

    Selling out the future to serve the present is what Politicians DO, and have done since long before either of us were even an itch in our daddy’s pants.

    There were in 1994, and are now, in 2011, a few (minority) of Republican pols that are actually trying to do the job they were elected to do-and a vast majority for whom incumbency is very nearly assured, whom are the cause of the failure of Congress to actually address the issue…same folks who were safe in 2008, and 2006.

    It’s not a conspiracy, it’s local electoral politics, follow the money-it’s the same money that’s funding both parties, money mostly keen on keeping the gravy-train rolling…but it’s not a Conspiracy and it’s not exclusive to either party, if it were, the Democrats in 2010 wouldn’t have faced much of a challenge getting re-elected and keeping Congress, because THEY would have been doing the job-you don’t get turnovers when things are going well, you get them when the legislators are screwing up.

  • RookieRick

    @#7, Baronius, Amen.

    People need to stop hand-wringing about conspiracies and start putting their money where their mouths are if they want to see Gary Johnson on the national stage.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jet –

    Speaking of Fox News, did you see where Chris Wallace got booed at the Republican debate because he asked Newt some tough questions?

    Sorta reminds me of how Sarah Palin got offended at being asked tough questions, and how Bachmann has so often refused to even talk to MSM reporters because she might get asked those dreaded ‘gotcha’ questions.

    But that’s how it is now on the conservative side: thou shalt not ask difficult questions of a Republican politician. This goes back all the way to Reagan when he stopped the Republicans from criticizing each other – and what happens when people are not allowed to criticize each other? Just ask anyone who’s lived in a regime where one is not allowed to ask uncomfortable questions of the ruling elite.

  • Well Glenn, what do you expect? Sarah Palin wants kids to be taught that Paul Revere made his famous ride because the colonial NRA wanted to warn the colonists that the British were going to take their guns away.

    Sort of in the same vein that she expects abstinence to be taught in school while hugging her grandkid

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    The 1994 election has zero to do with this, except for the newest contract (Norquist’s Thou shalt not raise taxes that Republican politicians are being forced to sign “or we’ll primary you!”

    And it’s NOT local electoral politics – not anymore. While “all politics is local”, the floodgates of money have been opened thanks to Citizens United…witness the MUCH greater amount of money spent in the Wisconsin recall elections, much – or perhaps most – of it from outside the state.

    Thanks to Citizens United, Cannonshop, we’ve got an oligarchy.

    But nothing you said negated my point that the Republican politicians have ZERO incentive to help save the economy – because by doing so they’d be slitting their own political throats and they know it. I agree with you that there are a few who decry what’s going on – we call them ‘moderates’, most Republicans call them ‘RINOs’, like your two senators in Maine – but the rest are being held in thrall by their requirement to adhere to Republican dogma.

    The Republican party has largely abandoned pragmatism, Cannonshop. That’s a very dangerous thing.

    And one more thing – look at something Romney just said:

    “Corporations are people, my friend. Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.”

    CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE. So are armies. So are gangs. So are political parties.

    And everything corporations earn DOES go to people – but when tens of thousands of American factories have gone overseas (thanks to Clinton and the conservatives – and YES, I do hold Clinton responsible for this since he did precisely what the conservatives wanted him to do) exactly what people does all that money go to?

    Not the AMERICAN people.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I’m surprised by your comment #50. First of all, I don’t think that anyone thinks of the “war on drugs” as a war. We’ve had “wars” on childhood obesity, illiteracy, inflation, and every other thing that people don’t like, but they weren’t wars. I’ll grant that the war on drugs has involved some military and paramilitary personnel, but that doesn’t make it a war. There are no military objectives; it’s “fought” in classrooms and courtrooms more than on borders; it’s not covered by international treaties. It’s at best a big project.

    More than that, do you really believe that politicians need a war to subdue or distract the population?

  • Baronius, my comment was cynical, I admit, but it is true that politicians usually perceive being “tough on crime” as a vote-winner; and since the majority of crime involves drugs in some way, that means the War on Drugs is a vote-winner.

    And I would say that it has escalated into a real war. There’s no real basis for comparing it to the “wars” on childhood obesity, AIDS, poverty etc, because the enemies in those “wars” don’t fight back. The enemies in the drug war do. And they are often better equipped, better organized and have better intelligence than “our side”.

    Frankly, I think this is one “war” it’s OK to take a deep breath, step back and admit “we” lost.

    More than that, do you really believe that politicians need a war to subdue or distract the population?

    Well, a lot of them do seem to think so. A bit of military action can do wonders for your approval rating. It doesn’t always work, of course, but it does often enough that political leaders frequently turn to it as an option very far from a last resort.

  • Oh, the War on Drugs is a “war” all right. You could ask the 38,000 Mexican citizens who have died in the cross-fire in the last 5 years, if they weren’t, like….dead. This April, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul from Texas (and chairman of the Homeland Security? Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management) called for Mexican drug cartels to be classified as terrorists. And presidential hopeful Governor Rick Perry says he would support sending US troops into Mexico.

    Thanks for picking up the ball, Dr. Dreadful and Baronius.
    *resumes respectful silence*

  • Perry also holds mass prayer meetings for soley for political gain that are funded by anti-gay organizations, and cons dilusional people into praying for rain that still hasn’t come long after he called for it.

  • zingzing

    “We’ve had “wars” on childhood obesity, illiteracy, inflation, and every other thing that people don’t like, but they weren’t wars.”

    don’t forget about christmas. never forget about christmas.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I don’t remember a candidate running on a law-and-order platform in the past 20 years, except for Rudy Giuliani in NYC. Maybe it’s *an* issue, but it’s not been a sure vote-getter.

    Good point about people shooting back in the war on drugs. The majority of the war on drugs as fought by the US is within our own borders, within the civilian justice system. Is the chaos in Mexico a problem of American foreign policy or Mexican domestic policy? I don’t know.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    The chaos in Mexico, whether we like it or not, does involve us – especially when most of the guns involved come from this side of the border.

    If you want to diminish illegal immigration, then legalize marijuana. That will take a great deal out of the hands of the drug lords there, and life will become better and safer there…

    …and fewer Mexicans will decide to come here.

    Otherwise, as long as life sucks there, they will come here and bring their families here – and nothing that we do will stop them. Obama has deported a record amount of illegal aliens, and has this made a dent? Hardly.

    BUT illegal immigration took a significant downturn during the Great Recession. Why? Because life started to suck here, too.

    In other words, if two adjacent nations are about equal in economic prosperity, the illegal immigration between them will be minimal. If the two nations are very UNequal in terms of economic prosperity, illegal immigration will ALWAYS be a significant problem until the two nations are brought to rough economic equivalency.

  • I don’t remember a candidate running on a law-and-order platform in the past 20 years, except for Rudy Giuliani in NYC.

    With the exception of Ron Paul, I don’t remember a big-name candidate calling for decriminalization or an end to the War on Drugs either, probably because they still assume that to do so would be Political Suicide.

    Is the chaos in Mexico a problem of American foreign policy or Mexican domestic policy? I don’t know.

    Undoubtedly both. But the War is by no means confined to America and its southern border. It’s a global conflict, with particular hot spots in South America (notably Colombia), south-east Asia and [drum roll] Afghanistan.

  • Clavos

    …legalize marijuana. That will take a great deal out of the hands of the drug lords there, and life will become better and safer there…

    It will take very little from them; the bulk of their business is trafficking in cocaine.

    Much of the pot consumed in the US these days is grown here.

  • Clavos (hi, honeymooner, BTW) – see comment #42.

  • “Hi, my name is [insert name of any number of currently high profile professionals here], and I am a cocaine addict.” 12-step programs and/or Jesus are currently the way out for alcoholics surrounded by great quantities of legally available booze. They (plus an adujant like cocoa leaf infusion, which acts like methadone for recovering heroin addicts) can work for cocaine addicts, too.

  • zingzing

    i had a bit of an addiction to coke once. i don’t quite know if you can say how many steps there are to realizing coke addiction sucks and just quitting, but that’s what i did. maybe i wasn’t in that deep, but it was pretty easy in the end. that stuff messes your body and mind up. it was a relief to quit.

    now if only that would work for cigarettes… the boozing i do is a product of a deep and beautiful thirst, and i will not have anyone mess up my lush elegance.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos #66 –

    True enough, I’ll give you that – but if marijuana were legalized, it’s been pointed out that a lot of people would not try cocaine or other hard drugs as a result. I could argue both sides of that, but I do think that fewer would ‘graduate’ to harder drugs.

    And besides, you know better than I do how much tax revenue America would take in – and how this would take some of the hardship away from our other tax burdens.

  • Cigarettes are harder or as hard to give up as heroin.

    You know I just thought of this: the human brain, more than any other organ, varies so much in its chemical make-up from person to person. You give a heart patient a medicine–probably the same medicine you gave to the last fifteen heart patients with the same complaint–and it will fix the problem. But if someone goes to a shrink with a depression or ADD or bipolar or some kind of psychosis, and fifteen trials of different drugs later, the magic bullet will finally be found. And I think it’s the same with the non-prescription psychoactives. Alcohol is absolute psychic POISON to some (even though they like it) and to others, eh, a drink once in awhile, and they can stop easily. And I think the same is true of marijuana.

    I’d still keep anti-drug programs in schools, though. Super Bowl beer commercials are part of our culture, and I’d keep them, too, but someone’s got to present the Puritanical balancing voice as well. Might as well be the same folks who make you do your math homework.

    Coke and heroin…I’d stay away from these like I’d stay away from jumping over a canyon on a motorcycle…but then there are the Evel Knievels of society, and perhaps a small percentage of artistic brains that need the more extreme stuff to realize their potential. That’s the way Native Americans think, anyway. ‘Shrooms and vision quests. Probably not the way Christians are supposed to think, though…yes…definitely not, the Bible says to be filled not with wine but with the Holy Spirit (a very effective alternative in my experience tho’ a little is OK if you’re not an alcoholic.)

    Not everyone is a Christian, though, and not everyone will want Jesus. The Bible says we are to live with them as peaceably as we can, so why would I try to make them live by the rules of a God they don’t want? As long as they aren’t hurting other human beings, why would I focus on making them live like me, when the thing that makes me live like me is God? Cart before the horse, it would seem, and what’s more essential for conveying the PERSON in the cart to where you hope he’ll go: the cart, or the horse?

    Just rambling. Thinkin’ for myself. I still know how, Jet. 🙂

  • Boy howdy! Past midnight my time, and I promised to be up by oh-dark-thirty to go for a wildflower hike in the mountains tomorrow. G’nite to anyone who is also still up.

  • ZingZing maybe there’s a career for you in writing prize-winning Super Bowl marijuana ads.

    Become an activist NOW! Goodnight for real.

  • Cannonshop

    #64 don’t forget, “ESPECIALLY when the guns are being supplied by the U.S. Government’s firearms enforcement agency.” Which used $10M of “Stimulus” to pay for Operation:Fast and Furious, the sale of automatic and semiautomatic weapons to Mexican Drug gangs.

    Some of those weapons, by the way, have been used to kill U.S. law enforcement agents in addition to killing Mexican Federales and civilians on both sides of the Rio Grande.