Contentious Sunday night presidential debate

By George MillerHillaryTrumpDeathmatch

– Trump vows special prosecutor for Hillary- “you should be in jail”

– Hillary charges Trump unfit to be President

– Moderator speaks for Clinton

– Clinton promises activist court

– Clinton admires Trump’s kids- not him

– Battle over “Islamophobia,” Refugees, terrorism

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came out of their respective corners swinging at the Sunday, Oct. 9 debate. They traded punches on thousands of deleted emails, lies, audio recordings, failed foreign policy, fitness for the presidency, even appointing a special prosecutor to investigate one of the candidates. It got nastier, much nastier than, say, the campaign for Mayor in my medium sized city, where the contenders’ goals aren’t all that different, but vary mainly on who could do the best job, how they would do it and whether the incumbent does or doesn’t deserve re-election. Far more civil, genteel. But the gloves are off in the Presidential debate this year- more than we’ve ever seen before.

It is almost certain that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be President in January. So, I pay close attention to what they and their allies say and do. Some say it doesn’t make any difference who is elected. Anyone who has been paying attention the last eight years knows that to be patently false. The President wields enormous power, far more than the U.S. Constitution ever intended- and that was a lot.  So it is a hotly contested prize- not just by the candidates, but their organizations, supporters and many stakeholders- and they will fight hard to get it.

Moderators: Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz

To begin with, one of the Moderators, Martha  Raddatz, was very obviously biased. It was evident in her tone of voice, body language, expression,  the way she argued for one of the candidates, the way she inconsistently cut off candidates after they had used up their allotted time for responses. At one point Donald Trump described it as “three to one.” In fairness to Anderson Cooper, he was more even-handed.

Debate video starts at about 1:14

Q & A

Hillary, Donald, Role Models?

Within the first couple of minutes the moderators tried to set the tone for the debate by focusing on an audio recording of  a private conversation Donald Trump had where he bragged about his prowness with women, in graphic terms, and their willingness to accept his advances, also relating that a married woman had turned him down.

The lead-in question by a supposedly “undecided” member of the public asked if the candidates thought they were appropriate models for today’s youth. Hillary of course said that she was and how she would work to heal  a diverse America, saying some terrible things have been said in the campaign and then laid out some very general, lofty objectives. Trump actually agreed with Clinton, but then instead focused on what he said were terrible things which have happened in the last eight years, including Obamacare, an $800 billion annual  trade deficit, the bad Iran deal, etc. He said he would make America great, make inner cities better for blacks, Latinos, the poor.

The moderators were visibly angry that he didn’t really answer the question and took it upon themselves to force discussion on the aforementioned audio recording, even claiming Trump said he forced women into sexual acts, which he didn’t and he firmly denied that. Trump explained that this was “locker room talk,” that it was a private conversation (or at least he thought so at the time) and he apologized for offending anyone. He shifted the conversation back again to the terrible things happening in the last eight years, the terrible wars and violent acts, “like medieval times.” He pilloried Clinton for her lapse of judgment  leaving a “vacuum” in Iraq which facilitated the growth of ISIS, which expanded to 32 countries on her watch.  He said he would make our country safe again, that we are going to have borders, be great and wealthy again.

Clinton followed up by saying she disagreed on policy with prior Republican nominees, but never questioned their fitness for office, but she was making an exception with Trump, who she said was not fit to be Commander-in-Chief. She alluded to numerous Republicans who agreed with her, but omitted the many who say the same thing about her. She criticized Trump’s “abusive ….harsh” comments about women, immigrants, Latinos, African-Americans and Muslims. She also criticized Trump’s harsh words about a former Miss Universe (who did, as he previously said, in fact violate her contract by gaining excessive weight and did in fact make a porno video shown on nationwide TV in Spain). She finished by saying “this is not who we are” and that “America is already great because our people are good.”

Moderator Raddatz then interjected, trying to keep the audio recording debate alive by saying that it was getting a very “intensive” reaction on Facebook etc. Trump responded by simply ignoring her and stating that he never saw anyone in politics more abusive to women than her husband (Bill Clinton) and that Hillary had attacked those women viciously. To underline that, Trump had three of those women in the audience and held a separate panel with them to rub it in deeper. He also brought up the rapist of a eleven year old that Hillary had defended then laughed about it later, when the rapist got off, that Bill Clinton had been impeached, lost his law license and was fined $850,000 for his abuse of Paula Jones.

Moderator Rabbatz then scolded the audience for applauding Trump’s broadside, but said nothing when Hillary supporters applauded when she struck a blow.

Clinton replied that “so much of what he said is not right and that we should be talking about our agenda and plans. But it was her campaign which has gone all out on the audio and thought that they could end Trump’s campaign with it. Looks like they were very wrong. And this was just the first question. 

The Birth Certificate

Clinton managed to work in the Obama eligibility/birth certificate issue and said Trump should be ashamed and should apologize for raising the question that Obama was not born in the USA. Trump correctly pointed out that it was Clinton’s campaign which initiated this all in 2008 via her friend Sidney Blumenthal and and that they also circulated pictures of Obama in (Muslim) native garb. He also stated that Clinton had treated Obama very poorly during that same campaign, that Michelle Obama had been very rough on Clinton and that Democrat Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz had been conspiring to defeat Bernie Sanders (WikiLeaks provided proof and Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign). In the next breath, he went after her about the 33,000 emails she deleted and “bleached” after receiving a Congressional subpoena and insisted she should be apologizing for that. He also mentioned the two boxes of emails taken from an office.

“You Should Be In Jail”

Trump then said that if he wins, he will issue instructions to appoint  a special prosecutor to look into her actions and said that “there have never been so many lies.” He said that she should be in jail. He said that others lives were destroyed for doing 1/5 of what she did, referring to those prosecuted for lesser offenses.  Part of the audience responded gleefully to that and was again shushed by Rabbatz.

Clinton responded by saying that everything he said was absolutely false, when it demonstrably was not.  The audience groaned loudly at that.

The eMails

In response to a question directed to her about the emails and private server she had used while Secretary of State, Clinton replied that it had been a mistake, which she takes personal responsibility for and that she is not making any excuses. She then claimed that there have been misleading accusations and that after a year of accusations, no evidence has been produced that the server was hacked, nor is there any evidence that classified material ended up in the wrong hands. If it hasn’t, then where did WikiLeaks/Guccifer get them?

Trump was incredulous that Hillary claimed that she didn’t know the letter “C” at the top of State Dept. communications meant “Classified, ” said she is lying again and once again brought up the 33,000 deleted/bleached emails.

Clinton said that’s just not true and tried to move on to other questions and wanted to talk about other things. Trump didn’t want to do that while he was on a roll and pleaded with Anderson Copper not to move on.

ObamacareobamcareStorefront

But, they did. Next question was about Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and whether costs were going up too much and what to do to bring them down. Clinton said Trump will try to repeal it, but she wants to fix it and that she has a plan, implicitly admitting that it is broken. She said that reigning in costs is the highest priority, implicitly admitting that costs are out of control. On the plus side of the ledger, she said not only did it cover 20 million more people, but it covers prior conditions, imposes no lifetime limits, includes “children” up to 26 years old, creates parity in rates for women and forbids denying coverage. She wants to save what works and that if it is repealed, all the benefits would be lost.

Trump replied  that he is frequently questioned about Obamacare, that it is a disaster, that nobody’s ever seen numbers like these (referring to rate/cost increases), that it will implode. He said he would repeal and replace it. He said their (Democrat’s) method is more money from Congress, that it will never work and is very, very bad.  Trump said he would repeal and replace it with something absolutely less expensive that works. He would end the prohibition about selling insurance  across state lines to end de facto monopolies, which would create competition and lower prices. He said Clinton wants a single payer system, where the  government runs everything and rates, deductibles go up and up while coverage goes down. He did not mention other provisions of Obamacare thought to be highly objectionable by opponents.

A moderator remarked that Bill Clinton called Obamacare “the craziest thing in the world” and asked Clinton to respond. She responded that he has “clarified” that remark, but she did not clarify how. She counterattacked by saying that we have historically had an employer-based health care system and that the “Affordable Care Act” fills in the gap for those too poor to afford it (via massive subsidies by taxpayers and ratepayers). She added that we already have a single-payer HC system in Medicare for the elderly and that “it does a great job.” Clinton said that 20 million people have Obamacare now, but Trump would just turn it back to insurance companies. She concluded with “let’s fix what is broken, not throw it out.”

A moderator asked if Trump would mandate health insurance, which he simply ignored, stating that its very passage was a fraud (evidence exists to support that) and that co-author Jonathan Gruber was one of the perpetrators of lies about it. He reminded viewers of Obama’s promise that “you can keep your doctor, keep your plan” (proven untrue). Trump would keep the pre-existing condition term and help cover the indigent via block grants to the states to fund Medicaid, but did not respond to Clinton’s other points raised, or how he would pay for this.

Radical Muslim Terror and IslamophobiaIslamophobebehead

A voter question was posed to Trump- with 3.3 million Muslims in the USA, how would you deal with Islamophobia? Trump said it exists and it is a shame, However, he said, there IS a problem, that we must be sure that Muslims coming into the country do not pose a threat and that Muslims must report danger. He remarked that Obama and Clinton will not even mention the term Radical Islamic Terror and that if you won’t even name the problem, then you can’t solve it.

Clinton responded that it is unfortunate that a lot of divisive, dark things are said about Muslims, making them more subject to attacks and that people like Trump are helping to perpetuate this. She said that Trump’s short-sighted, dangerous and demagogic language is hurting and that we need the eyes and ears of Muslims to help check terrorism. She intends to defeat it via a coalition of majority Muslim nations and that Trump’s rhetoric inhibits that, plays into the hands of terrorists, that we are not at war with Islam.

A moderator asked if Trump still favors a complete shutdown of Muslim immigration until we can figure out what is going on. Trump said he favors “extreme vetting” for places like Syria, which Obama has brought tens of thousands of refugees in from and Clinton wants a 500% increase of. He said we have no idea who they are, where they are from and what they believe. He instead advocates regional safe zones for them, which countries such as the Gulf states might pay for.

Another related question- Clinton asked for an increase from 10,000 to 65,000 refugees from Syria. Vetting is not perfect, so why take them in? She responded that she would not take anyone in who she thought posed a threat and pivoted to the emotional picture of a 4 year-old refugee with blood on his forehead and what threat could he pose? She then blamed the refugee crisis on Russian aggression, said we aren’t carrying the refugee load that Europe is and that she would do the tough vetting. It seems clear that this isn’t happening now and even administration officials have remarked on the impossibility of doing it thoroughly in such situations. She then said we can’t impose a religious test in a country founded on freedom of religion, neatly avoiding the question of  whether or not certain refugees are a danger within a population of people, many members of which are now causing 95% of all worldwide terror. She reiterated that terrorist organizations are exploiting talk of bans to recruit terrorists.

Trump then said that Clinton voted for the war, but he was against it. Moderator Rabbatz again acted as Clinton’s surrogate, telling Trump that he supported the war in an interview. Trump in fact opposed it in nearly every interview on record and only made a weak offhanded comment semi-agreeing with an interviewer’s support of it once. Trump then went on to say that Clinton would not stand up to countries that refused to take back their illegal immigrant criminals and that he would stand up to them. He reiterated that Bernie Sanders had said she was really bad. He said drugs pour in from south of the border at record levels and that ICE and Border Patrol unions had endorsed him- the first time they ever endorsed a presidential candidate. Trump added that Clinton wants amnesty for everyone, that she has bad judgment- so bad that she should never be President.

Hillary’s 2-faced policies?

The question was posed  by the Open Debate Coalition: Wikileaks released info that Clinton in her paid speeches said that she had differing public and private positions on certain issues- and is it OK for a politician to be 2-faced?  Incredibly, she didn’t deny that, tried to use Abraham Lincoln to justify that stance and said he showed a great display of presidential leadership in acting similarly. Then she lashed out, blaming Russia for directing info to Wikileaks and other sites exposing that gem about her speeches and more, suggesting she didn’t know if this was accurate (if she doesn’t, who would?). She followed up by saying that never has a foreign power worked so hard to influence an election (we guess she forgot about foreign donations to her and “Clinton Foundation”). She then followed up by accusing Trump of collusion with Russia- that he praised Putin and agrees with Russia (he does seem to agree with Russia that the USA supports/trains ISIS, that Assad may be the lesser of evils and Trump is not at all anxious to get into WWIII with Russia).

With that, Trump tore into Clinton, claiming that “she was caught in a total lie… Her papers went out to all the banks.” He said she blamed her lie on the late, great Lincoln, and pointing out there are great differences between her and Lincoln (in the mold of Sen. Lloyd Bentzen’s famous debate comment to Dan Quayle: “you’re no Ronald Reagan”). He said it would be great to get along with Russia- to fight ISIS together, but she always blames Russia, “trying to tarnish me with Russia.”

Trump says he pays hundreds of millions in taxes and that people like Warren Buffett and George Soros took similar deductions, which are legal and there is nothing wrong with them. He didn’t fully answer whether he has been paying federal income taxes, as he may still be writing off  a $960 million loss claim dating back to 1995, which could result in multi-year losses carried forward. He again said he will release tax returns when his audit is complete.

Rich to Pay Their “Fair Share?”RichAbernathy

Speaking of taxes, the next question was what special tax provisions would you change to make the rich  pay their “fair share?”

Trump immediately said “eliminate carried interest,” which is cherished by hedge funds as a great tax shelter.  This would be highly unpopular on Wall Street and in Greenwich, big campaign donors. He said Clinton did nothing about this when a Senator, that she’s been here 30 years and nothing’s changed. Trump said he would actually lower taxes from 35% to 15%. Presumably he was talking about corporate taxes, nearly the highest in the world. He would also cut taxes for the middle class, he said. Trump said there is no growth now, that in China, 7% growth is considered bad, but we’re at 1% and maybe will go lower.

Clinton replied that everything Donald said is not true, it’s “alternate reality,” that he hasn’t paid taxes for 20 years. She said his plan would provide the wealthy/corporations the the biggest cut that they ever had, that he would raise middle class taxes. She said no one making less that $250,00o would have their taxes raised. She claims she voted to close corporate “loopholes, ” wants to tax millionaires, wants a surcharge on incomes of $5+ million, that Trump paid zero and she wants to make sure that no corporations/individuals will get away without paying their fair share, whatever that is.

Trump replied that her big donors all take deductions/carried interest and that she is unlikely to change this. He said “I pay tremendous numbers” and that Buffett, Soros, use the same terms and that if Hillary cared, why has she done nothing in 30 years- all talk no action.  He then abruptly shifted gears and attacked Hillary again  for “bad judgment” on Libya, Syria, Iraq and that she had left a “vacuum” in Iraq that begat ISIS to start there and is now in 32 nations.

Clinton came on again and stated that she had supported elimination of carried interest, to which Trump replied “if you were an effective Senator, you could have done it.” She then blamed Bush, saying that Presidents have veto power, but as far as we know, she didn’t put a bill on his desk to sign. She went on to say that 8 million now benefit from the Children’s Insurance program, she helped rebuild after 911, helped get health insurance for National Guard members, helped control children’s medicine dosage, women’s rights, a nuclear treaty with Russia and that 400 pieces of legislation have her name on them.

Action on Aleppo?

The 4-5 year old bloody boy in Syria came up in another question- The State Dept. is investigating Russian/Syrian war crimes in destruction of Aleppo in an attempt to wipe out rebels- if President, what would you do about this crisis, which is like the Holocaust?

Clinton blamed it on Russian and Syrian govts., that the Russian Air Force is planning to eliminate Aleppo to eliminate the Syrian rebels (which she supports), claims the Russians are ignoring ISIS to concentrate on destroying rebels.. She advocates a “no-Fly” zone and working closely with allies She says the Russians want Trump as President. She will cooperate with Russia where she can and has: Russian nuke treaty, Iran sanctions.

Trumped blamed Clinton for the failed “line in the sand”. She retorted that she was already gone then. Trump said she was totally in contact with the administration on this. He said that Russia is actually modernizing and growing its nuclear forces, while the US ones are old and obsolete. Trump said Hillary talks tough on Russia and Assad, but not about the rebels. He pointed out Libya and the Qaddafi elimination debacle, and mentioned that Russia got part of their oil. (Trump previously recommended that the U.S. do that). He described the Iran deal as dumb and said that we gave Iran $150 billion including $1.7 billion in cash, that she wants to fight in Syria, but doesn’t even know who the rebels are.

A moderator pointed out that Trump’s running mate Pence seemed to disagree with Trump’s position on Aleppo. Trump responded that he hadn’t talked to him about it. He struck at Clinton, saying that she made Iran into a rich, powerful nation, when she had a chance to something about them.

Question: What if Aleppo falls? Trump: It already has. He followed up with saying how stupid it is to mention the intention and timing of an attack to retake Mosul.  Why not keep it confidential? Amazingly “moderator” Rabbatz again stepped in on Clinton’s behalf, lecturing Trump that there are sometimes reason countries do that. Trump mentioned that many generals (retired) endorse him and why not plan the attack in secret, saying that Patton and MacArthur would be spinning in their graves over what is happening.

More fighting terrorism questions

Question- Clinton advocates arming rebels- would you commit American military troops?  Clinton said no American ground troops in Syria, but use special forces and trainers (aren’t those troops?).

Question- what would you differently from Obama? Hillary said when I’m President we will already have pushed ISIS out of Iraq; Donald thinks he knows more than the generals (Trump has said those opinions were strongly influenced by generals/military). She would specifically target Baghdadi (more advice to our enemies), arm the Kurds. Trump pointed out that Clinton had gone a minute over her time allotted.

President of ALL the people?

Trump replied “Absolutely” to that question, noting that Clinton calls his people “deplorable” and “irredeemable,” which he seems to deplore. He then promised to bring back jobs and noted that NAFTA was signed by her husband and was the greatest disaster, that now she wants TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive deal said to be disadvantageous to the US and potentially robs sovereignty), which she called the “Gold Standard,” then denied saying it. He would serve all the people including the inner cities, African-Americans (not “the blacks” anymore). He said Clinton has been talking for years, but nothing ever happens. He said African-American, Latino/Hispanics have not been doing well, that inner cities have 45% poverty, so what do you have to lose? (by voting for Trump).

Clinton (laughing): 67% voted to re-elect me (presumably for NY Senator)- she is very proud, humbled, tried all her life to support children/families, in public service for 30 years (provided some details). She said people tell her they would not have a place in Trump’s America. A child asked, will he send me back to Ethiopia?

Question for Clinton: You have called 1/2 “deplorables, xenophoboic,” etc. How would you unite the country,if you’ve written off 10’s of millions of Americans? After previously apologizing for this sweeping comment, she claims this was not directed at Trump supporters, but at Trump.

Trump replied that we have a very divided nation- Charlotte, Baltimore, DC, Chicago, etc. We have the biggest increase in murders in 45 years, Clinton has tremendous hate in her, calling so many “deplorables, irredeemable.” We cannot take another four years of this.

Discipline?

Question: You have said that the most important characteristic is discipline ….

Trump: referring to his comments about a former Miss Universe- Take a look at the woman she (Clinton) built up as a girl scout. She isn’t. He pointed out Clinton’s 2008 ad about handling 3 am calls and said she failed. Also mentioned that she has also tweeted at 3 am. He said Ambassador Stevens (killed in Benghazi) sent out 600 requests for help, which Clinton did not fulfill, that she only talked to Sid Blumenthal,  that Trump has a 25 million Facebook/Twitter audience, which is a useful resource.

Clinton responded that Trump does not have the discipline to be a good leader, that some national security and Republican leaders and those who saw him up close do not support him. She said she worked with George W. Bush to get things done, admires Obama, who inherited the worst crash in a long time, saying Trump would send us back to the recession (Trump says we’re already there).

Trump responded that we have the slowest growth since 1929, that Supreme Court appointments are the most SCOTUSmissingScALIAimportant aspect of the job.

Clinton says she wants SCOTUS justices who know how the world really works, tried cases, understand people, current court is going in wrong direction. She wants repeal of Citizens United, voting rights in some states are a big problem, esp. for “people of color.” She wants to keep Roe v. Wade, marriage “equality.” She says Trump would reverse this- a terrible mistake. SCOTUS representing corporate interests. Will immediately move to fill vacancy.

Trump Justice Scalia was a great Justice. Trump will appoint more along Scalia mold. Picked 20 highly qualified candidates, highly respected, constitutional, Second Amendment,which is totally under siege by people like Clinton. He said he is putting $100 million of his own money into his campaign, not taking big corporate donations, average donation is $61 and wonders why Clinton won’t put $30 million of her own money into her own campaign.  He wonders why the Clintons made so many millions in office.

Clinton says she respects Second Amendment, but should be universal background checks.

Energy Policy?

Question: What steps to take for an energy policy to also meet needs for environment and minimal job losses?

Trump said energy is under absolute siege by the Obama administration. Foreign companies coming  in and buying American companies/. He’s all for alternative energy- solar, wind, but we need much more.Says Hillary wants to put all miners (coal) out of business. Clean coals technology is available- there is tremendous wealth in the ground. He will bring back energy companies, pay off debt, , while Clinton would put them out of business.  The steel industry is being killed by China dumping and EPA is overly restrictive. It is disgraceful what is being done to PA, WV, OH.

Clinton replied “very interesting.” Says Trump is buying illegally dumped steel for his buildings. A trade prosecutor would avoid dumping. She said for the first time ever, we are energy-independent (then why are we still importing millions of barrels of oil per day?). Oil price is way down.  We have lots of natural gas,which is a”bridge” until future energy sources are available. She says she has a comprehensive energy plan and is the only candidate with a plan to revitalize the coal industry.  Must fight “climate change.”  Need 21st Century clean energy.

Last Question: Would You Name Any Positive Thing You Respect About Each Other?

Clinton- His children- they are incredibly capable and devoted. She doesn’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does. This election is  so conflict-oriented- these are not ordinary times- not an ordinary election. The President will affect policy not just for eight years. A lot is at stake.

Trump: The statement on my children is a very nice compliment (although somewhat back-handed). “She’s a fighter.  She doesn’t quit, she doesn’t give up.”  But I disagree with what she’s fighting for and her judgment.


George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard


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