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Lewyn Addresses America

A little politics, a little urbanism- I also blog 100 percent on urbanism at and

9:55 Sanders says minimum wage increases jobs by putting money in hands of people leading to more jobs

9:56 O’Malley- what I did for Maryland I can do for America

9:56 Hillary calls for only $12 minimum because there are “no international comparisons”.  Hillary lets herself get outbid.  Very confident.

10:03 When asked about Wall St campaign contributions Hillary says hedge fund guys running superPAC against her.

10:05 Sanders – break up big banks.

10:06 Says something about Dem identity politics that Hillary is “proud” 60 percent of our donors were women.

10:06 Hillary- on 9/11 terrorists attack Wall St.  But “I go after all of Wall Street not just the big banks.”

10:08 O’Malley mentions he won’t have Robert Rubin on CEA but fails to mention why that matters, kind of a fumble.

10:12 Hillary gun laws blah blah blah.

10:13 “I said I made a mistake on Iraq.” – Hillary.

10:13 “We need radical changes in mental health in America.’ – Sanders (begs for a joke here doesn’t it?)

10:13 O’Malley brags about gun record in Maryland.  Given Baltimore’s murder rate maybe not a strong argument coming for him.  What he did for Maryland he can do for America!

10:15 Sanders whacks O’Malley on Baltimore crime (good hit!).   Calls for getting people to work together where there is a consensus (not practical).

This is another of these areas where Dems are whistling in a graveyard, given that the House is likely to be dominated by Republicans for the next decade or so (basically until the next failed Republican administration, I think)

10:24 Sanders- I can beat Republicans because most issues I care about are supported by most Americans but corrupt campaign finance system is preventing it.   Not realistic- what prevents even noncontroversial liberal policies winning is that right-wing media has lock on Republican primary voters.  Not something soluble by campaign finance reform.

10:31 O’Malley brags about criminal justice system achievements- again!

10:42 Clinton hits Sanders single payer plan- making states administer health plan risky, what if Republican governor?

10:42 Sanders- ACA has same problem

10:52 O’Malley against “divisive ideologies” and for “new era.” Sounds pretty old to me.

10:53 Clinton: I’ve spent my life evening the odds, blah blah.  I will work hard (Republican viewers thinking: yes, that’s exactly the problem).

10:54 Sanders: inequality, child poverty, campaign finance, health insurance, paid medical leave. Crowd loves him.

It was really hard for this debate to keep my attention.  I declare Sleep the winner!

9:08 When asked about Paris terror attack-

Sanders talks about ISIS (he’s against it) for 5 seconds, then pivots to economic issues he cares about, sounds tone deaf.

Hillary talks about being commander-in-chief, promises to figure out what she wants to do.

O’Malley says we have to adapt to new global danger, doesn’t say what he wants either but still sounds better than other two.  He’s the Democratic Christie- he talks great but his record as governor (unpopular in a word) dooms him.

9:10 Hillary- war can’t be an American fight, we’ll train Kurds etc.  But does she really think a few Kurds can beat ISIS? Hasn’t training Iraqis failed?

9:11 Hillary asked about Obama’s repeated underestimation of ISIS; haven’t you missed the point in the past?  She sounds like she’s blaming Maliki for “decimating Iraqi army” (no Bush did that with de-Baathization) and Assad for being incompetent.  Sounds stupid.  Obviously locals can’t beat ISIS- but shouldn’t Secretary of State Clinton have foreseen that years ago?

9:13 Sanders ties climate change to terrorism.  As droughts etc happen more instability= more terrorism.   Hits Hillary on Iraq (good hit!)  Favors “international coalition” with Muslim nations- but most of these nations have toy armies that can barely keep the lid on in their own nations, let alone win a war outside its own borders.

9:15 Hillary says we need to understand antecedents to Iraq (yeah? so?)

9:16 Sanders blathers about long history of US support of regime change and that it has had unintended consequences.  Not sure anyone under 70 understands.

9:17 O’Malley points out problems arising out of Iraqi war: dissolution of Baathist army. “its not about getting rid of a single dictator.”  (Take that, Hillary!)

9:18 Hillary says its a problem that Assad has hung on to power.  yes, because if he left it would become stable?  Seriously? She sounds almost as retarded as Rubio. I can’t help wondering: if we’d supported Assad maybe things would be more stable.

9:19 Sanders thinks Muslim countries are ‘going to have to lead.”  Why would they want to?  Seriously?

9:20 Hillary points out Jordan has taken lots of refugees from Syria, while Turkey “has to make up its  minds”.  And if Turkey says take a hike what’s she going to do?  Invade THEM too?

Just lost 10 minutes because before I could save stuff I pressed the wrong button.  My takeaways:

Hillary defended the war in Libya because Kaddafi was a bad guy and they have free elections.  Free elections didn’t save Libya from terrorism anymore than they save France, and a mean dictator is the only thing standing between most of these countries and ISIS.  Hillary sounds almost as deranged as some of the Republicans.

9:32 O’Malley comes out for 65,000 Syrian refugees. Is he not aware that some of the ISIS terrorists were “refugees”?  Says he should be with “nations of the world” (code for West European countries where Arabs beat up and stab Jews- no thanks, governor).

But he’s right in seeing huge standing armies might not be useful.

9:33 Hillary calls for 65,000 but only with more careful screening.  Please.  How do you screen people with no paperwork?  Even the people who aren’t trained terrorists might be potential lone wolves.

These people all sound adrift, but some of the Republicans also sound terrible.  The position of the neocon wing of the Republican party is: “We hate ISIS.  But at the same time we want to cut the Christian West in half by hassling Russia.  And we’re so afraid of Russia we want to keep the three-way civil war in Syria going.”   They all sound to me like they are effectively ISIS’s useful idiots. Its like its 1940 and the election is between Charles Lindbergh and Breckenridge Long.

9:40 O’Malley brags about raising taxes.  A lot of good that did in the 2014 elections.

Now everyone on the same page on domestic issues- yawn.  I find it really hard to care about any of this, since a Republican Congress will squash anything they do.

9:43 Sanders against 90% tax rates of Eisenhower era. “I’m not a socialist compared to Eisenhower.”

9:07 Trump says he’s against minimum wage increase but I’m not sure he really explains why.

9:08 Carson says every time minimum wage goes up, employment goes down- I suspect that’s not literally true, since minimum wage is one of about a zillion factors that affect wages.  But he does explain the argument against higher minimum wages more coherently than Trump.

9:10 Rubio seems like a pro compared to Trump and Carson.  But after focusing on minimum wage, he goes into laundry list.  But audience is on his side.

Says “we need more welders and less philosophers.”  No, we need better philosophers.

9:13 Kasich tries to come across as grownup, calling for responsible tax cuts.  Not bad but also goes on and on.  Not pithy. But sounds specific. Respectful applause but not as much as Rubio.

9:17 Cruz has three-point plan; not necessarily any more substance than the others but he sounds SO much better, so organized.  Gets well deserved applause.

9:19 Bush, as always, sounds a little less coherent, especially compared to Cruz.  Gets nice applause lines, but lots of ums and uhs and minor slips of the tongue.

9:21 Fiorina tries to seem sentimental and sounds kind of reptilian to me.  Cliches about “big government”, “status quo” blah blah.  Mentions “zero based budgeting” – Jimmy Carter redux?  Also didn’t answer question about how more jobs created under Dem Presidents.  But gets lots of applause for cliche about “take our government back.” (whatever that means).

9:24 Rand Paul tries to blame inequality on Federal Reserve.  Its a complex argument, so I didn’t really get it.   “If you want less inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor and a state with a Republican governor.”  City part really doesn’t make sense.  Inequality is lower in cities with Republican mayors because such cities tend to have annexed lots of suburban areas, causing (1) more middle class suburbanites within city limits (hence less inequality) and 2) more voters for Republicans.  (2) is a result of (1), not a cause.  As far as governors, it is true that the most unequal states are NY and Ct, which have Dem governors.  Also, the least unequal states are mostly Republican-run western states.  But after that eight of the nine most unequal have Republican governors.  So its complicated.

9:31 Trump given softball on immigration. responds with word salad.

9:34 Kasich calls for amnesty.  Says you can’t deport 11 million people.

9:35 Trump- Ike moved a million illegal immigrants into Mexico.  (Really?  Would love to see post debate fact checking on that).

9:36 Kasich says jobs come in “downstream.” What does that mean?  He’s not very focused tonight.  Saying children “terrified” by deportation, too manipulative.

9:37 Bush says deporting immigrants would “tear communities apart.” Not going to persuade anyone who is not already persuaded.

The Bush/Kasich/Trump argument about deporting immigrants has a first-grade feel. “Can work!” “Can’t too!” “Can!” “can’t!” Its not as boring as first debate but a bit shallow.

9:39 Rubio says world changing fast blah blah blah. Throwing everything in, not very intelligently.  But started well, sounding vaguely like candidate of future.  But keeps trying to throw in every single issue in one paragraph.  Good applause line about “new American century” though.  Tries to be poetic.

9:42 Cruz organized answer on immigration, but completely evades question of what to do about illegals already here, beyond being against “amnesty.”

9:45 Fiorina comes out for the free market.  Zzzzz.

9:52 in defending flat tax (including eliminating mortgage deduction), Carson says “people had homes before the federal income tax.”  Wham!  A good answer by Ben Carson- so bizarre as to be signs of End Times.

9:55 Paul promises huge tax cut (including payroll taxes) coherent but could never pass.

9:56 Cruz coherent as usual on taxes, but suffers from being the third (I think) person in a row endorsing flat tax, causing my attention to wander.   The homogenity of the Republican Party makes debates blah.  I wish we’d had these kind of debates when parties were more diverse; if I could time travel to 1972, I’d try to get the networks to have primary debates.  Could you imagine Wallace vs. Humphrey vs. McGovern vs. Scoop Jackson?  THAT would have been a debate.

10:01 Bush keeps stumbling over words, otherwise OK.  If he was the frontrunner he’d be fine, but he’s just another face in this crowd.

10:02 Rubio says he’s for child tax credit, blah blah. Perfectly nice?

10:05 Paul says tax credit really a transfer payment because its refundable.

10:05 Rubio says its really a tax cut because its offset against payroll tax.  Rubio comes out for flag and family.  Gets big applause;  Paul picked the wrong fight- Republicans are always for military spending.

You don’t beat Rubio by challenging him directly; Rubio is a master of the cliche that parrots what most Republicans think, even if it is not supported by any obvious logic beyond the level of an 8 year old.  You have to beat him indirectly, by outshining him as Cruz does.

10:06 Cruz: “You think defending this nation is expensive, try not defending it.”  Goes after sugar subsidies.  Nice specific hit.

10:13 Paul squashes Trump. Trump attacks TPP because of Chinese currency manipulation, etc. and Paul points out China not party to TPP.

10:21 Carson asked about ISIS, and blathering about Chinese and Russians and then goes back to global jihadists. Can’t decide whether he wants to reignite the Cold War or fight ISIS.  Is he not aware that ISIS may have just bombed a Russian plane? Says we can “take land from ISIS”- easier said than done.  The USA couldn’t keep order against al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was much

10:24 Bush isn’t much better, vague blather about American “leadership.”

10:26 If Putin wants to knock out ISIS, more power to him, says Trump.  HOME RUN TRUMP!!!

10:26 Trump says we shouldn’t be world’s “policeman”- Bush says be “leader.”  Bush incoherent.

10:28 Trump- nobody likes Assad, but we don;t have anyone to replace him.

10:30 Fiorina says Arabs think ISIS is their fight.  I’m not really sure that’s accurate.  But she does get applause appealing to our reptile brain.

10:32 Paul= “Russia flies in that zone at the invitation of Iraq.”  Are we really ready to shoot down Russian planes? As usual knows more than everyone else.

10:32 Trump acts ungracious to Fiorina.

10:34 Rubio- Putin “a gangster” and he only understands “strength.”  Does Rubio even have any idea what he means by “strength”?  He seems to think like a gangster- everything is about toughness.

He has good sound bites but he is intellectually incoherent.  If he thinks ISIS is really important, its important enough to work with the world’s bad guys to fight.

10:38 or so- Kasich throws in so many issues in such a short time that I have no idea if he knows what he is talking about.  I sure don’t.  Kasich just lacks the discipline to be a good debater.

10:47 Cruz says Fed tightened money in 2008- not way I remember it.  A bit weird on monetary policy- is he saying that we tie monetary policy to gold? Isn’t that going to be deflationary.

10:51 After Cruz says he wouldn’t bail out big banks, Kasich says you can’t stand on philosophy in a crisis.  But I’m not sure what Cruz and he are arguing about. Is Cruz against deposit insurance?  Or does Kasich just wrongly think he is?

10:55 Fiorina hollers “socialism” in attacking Dodd-Frank.  Rhetoric, no substance.

11:06 Paul on energy sounds like he’s beginning to focus on running for reelection in Kentucky

11:12 Fiorina sounds like broken record.  She just sounds terrible tonight.

11:14 Bush closing statement limited to VA- sweet, simple.

11:14 Cruz’s Reagan imitation doesn’t do it for me.  Rubio is better at saying nothing; Cruz impresses only when he is actually saying something. 

11:14 Rubio closing statement illustrates why Fiorina so awful- she is full of doom and gloom, Rubio hopeful.

11:16 Carson starts with real problems, then moves to “political correctness.”  Huh?

11:17 Trump ends on a positive note.

Bush articulately praises natural gas- beginning of “third way” strategy on climate change.  But doesn’t natural gas have issues with methane (another greenhouse gas)?

In these sorts of debates, I try to have two pairs of glasses on- one is “who will the media proclaim the winner?” and the other is “who came across well to me”?

On the former, I’m sure the media (esp. conservative media) will declare Rubio the winner because he is good with emotionally appealing sound bites and they love him- and in fairness, he didn’t make any real gaffes (unlike Trump with his ignorance about TPP).

There’s already a preexisting story of Cruz and Rubio rising, and to break up that story they have to massively mess up.

On the latter – Paul good (but foolish to give Rubio a chance to get applause lines).   Cruz so disciplined its scary, a debating machine.  Trump ignorant but sometimes shows alarming common sense.  Rubio insults my intelligence, an empty suit spewing forth Conventional (Republican) Wisdom.  Fiorina and Carson just didn’t have much to say.  Bush seems pretty intelligent on domestic policy, much less so on foreign policy.    Like last debate, a good night for Cruz and Rubio

7:34 Nice line by Santorum: You’d think there was a Republican president the way Democrats complain about the economy

7:35 Santorum- we’re going to suspend every regulation costing over $100k.  Is he not aware that regulations have benefits?  Fun facts: Santorum talks about welders, but welding jobs are going to rise slower than rest of economy

7:38 Christie sounds shopworn, regurgitating standard R cliches about government getting out of the way.  You mean except wars and wiretapping?

7:39 Moderator asks about welfare recipients who have incentives not to work.  Is she not aware of the 1996 welfare reform that limited this sort of thing? In Arizona, there is a one year limit on assistance for the poor.  What an ignoramus.  This sort of question gives Fox a bad name.

7:45 Huck calls Louisiana “the state just south of me.”  Doesn’t he live in Florida?

7:46 Jindal- “facts don’t lie.” LOL.  (I miss Lindsay Graham in these debates).

7:48 Christie plays unifier and does it well.

8:03 Santorum- “there are no dads [in tough areas] and we need to do something about it.”  Easier said than done.

8:04 Huck says “wages for the bottom 90 percent of the economy” have flattened.  Blames feds for dollar flucutating. How is that relevant?  Is he not aware that the dollar is very strong?

8:11 Santorum – complains that Obama put people “in harm’s way”- compared to Bush?

8:15 Christie- “bring this entire country together.”  And you thought Fort Lee has traffic jams!

One thing about the increasing ideological homogenity of the parties- they make debates and primaries a lot duller.  The combination of moderators who didn’t really challenge the candidates and no Lindsay Graham made for candidates who sounded like clones.

If there’s a winner, its Christie- but not by much.  No one was especially good or terrible.

To the tune of “The Name’s LaGuardia

Now here’s a name for you:


Establishment spells amnesty like R-A-T spells rat!

Now there’s a double E in Establishment,

and a double O in necon;

just like the double-dealing, double-crossing, double-talking, double-dyed duplicity

of the Establishment neocons!

You can change it all,

just use the ballot box,

cast your spell come next Election Day,

the name’s Donald Trump,


  • I’ve been tweeting a lot about the GOP debates (especially the second one, which I missed much less of).  In addition to the tweets, here are some thoughts:

My guess from other Twitter coverage is that Fiorina will be the media-declared winner; I suspect she will be second (and maybe even first) in most polls a few weeks from now, barring any events that slow her momentum.   Why?  She’s good with pithy sound bites.  A lot of other candidates had good nights that will at least keep their fundraising up even if it won’t lift them in the polls: Cruz, Paul, Christie.  Bush was uneven, but had some real bright spots. Trump ditto but the Trump/Fiorina confrontations hurt him.  Kasich was less interesting than in the first debate, full of bromides about unity.  Huckabee and Walker seem to be kind of fading away.  Carson was not good at all; I’m not sure he was actually worse than the first debate but I kind of expected him to be more coherent now that he’s the front-runner.  He just seems slightly stoned to me.

Having said that, my own views about who would make a good President differ greatly from who I think did “well” in the debate.  But since there are plenty of people who can defend my substantive views far more ably than I can, I will not bore anyone who reads this with my opinions.  (Though I suspect from my tweets you can guess…)

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    Best closing statement by far: Bush, oddly. Simple, clear message: 4% growth. Everyone else rambled.

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    Christie on climate change: we had more solar, nuclear in NJ and so we don’t need more regulations

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    Christie repeating “pot as a gateway drug” arguments from 1980s- I feel like I’m in an antique shop.

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    Did Jeb Bush agree with Paul on pot (at least for Colorado)? I think my head is spinning.

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    Fiorina: “everyone must know” US is no. 1 military- I think everyone does who isn’t running for President

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    Kasich calls for “calling out” ISIS – phrase makes it sound like an argument between college students

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    Paul: “There will always be a Bush or Clinton to vote for” if you want war in Iraq (or a Rubio, I would add)

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    Did Carson just say if we focused on energy independence al-Qaeda would just go away? Bin Laden in oil-free Pakistan

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    Trump: “I’m a very militaristic person”.

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    Bush says only Republican pool of foreign policy experts from his relatives’ administrations. Oy.

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    Christie: “I will prosecute her (Hillary Clinton) during the debates.”

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    Walker evades question on minimum wage

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    Gov. to tycoons: unemployed “could care less about your careers.”

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    Cruz says he’s the only anti-amnesty candidate

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    Trump says “we have to have assimilation”- wonder how his Jewish daughter sees THAT

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      Jeb Bush says he’s for “Reagan approach”- wasn’t Reagan for amnesty?

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      Fiorina having great night- she’s real good with sound bites

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      Fiorina had a audience-pleasing Planned Parenthood response: fiery style, no shutdown

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      Ted Cruz wants to shut down the govt over $500 million out of a trillion dollar budget? Seriously?

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      Bush sounds boring but right on church, state, Kim Davis etc

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      Fiorina: Vladimir Putin is “someone we should not talk to”. Really?

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      Trump actually favors getting along with foreigners- a dangerous position in today’s Republican Party

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      Did moderator just call Assad a U.S. enemy? Isn’t ISIS our enemy?

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      Bush showing energy, Trump humor

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      Christie: “I wake up every morning as an outsider ” as a R in NJ

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      Walker has great line: “We don’t need an apprentice in the White House. We have one now.”

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      Fiorina wisely refuses to take bait when asked about whether Trump can handle nukes

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      Jindal ranting about “idea of America” – real loser of debate as far as I am concerned

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      Jindal says there are jobs “Christians not allowed to have” – really? How does he define Christian?

One common argument for one way streets is that they are safer for pedestrians because pedestrians only have to look in one direction.  In certain places, that might make sense- for example, where a pedestrian is at a midblock crosswalk (or if the pedestrian can safely ignore jaywalking laws and cross midblock).

But yesterday in Pittsburgh I realized that, in the context of a major intersection, this argument isn’t worth so much.  Forbes Avenue near the University of Pittsburgh is a five lane one way speedway.  I cross Forbes on the way to work, and its a big hassle.  Even though it is one way, the crossings are all at intersections where you have to worry about traffic turning left and right from other streets, and wait for a long time as various lights change.  In such a situation, it doesn’t make much difference that the traffic is one way- my major concern is the traffic turning left and right.


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