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“15 Clowns And Counting, Revisionists Reality Show”: The GOP Should Run Its Debates Just Like American Idol

We’re almost certainly going to have more than a dozen Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 race. As The New York Times helpfully points out, six are already in (Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Paul, Rubio) and seven more are all but certainly running (Bush, Christie, Graham, Jindal, Perry, Santorum, Walker). There are plenty more maybes, too — both serious (Kasich) and clowns (Trump).

This leaves GOP planners with a big and pressing question: How do you stage a debate when you can’t even fit the participants on a single stage?

It’s an unprecedented problem. There’s never been a primary debate — in either party — with more than 10 candidates. And it’s even more disconcerting to Republicans because they made a strong effort to limit the number of debates so it didn’t turn into a circus like it did four years ago… when there were a mere nine candidates.

Fox News, which hosts the first debate on August 6, announced that it will limit participation to the top 10 contenders based on an average of the last five national polls. Maybe that sounds good on the surface… except that formula threatens to leave out a couple of sitting governors, a U.S. senator, and the only woman running.

CNN, which hosts the second debate on September 16, will literally divide the candidates into two tiers. That could lead to some interesting exchanges, as the lower-tier candidates try to get attention with less airtime.

Other proposed formulas, which exclude candidates by the amount of money raised or the number of staffers hired, also have their problems. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, one of the potential candidates who could be left off the stage, has even proposed two back-to-back debates with randomly selected participants.

All of this worrying and rule-making is intended to prevent the GOP presidential debates from becoming a political version of a reality show. But when you think about it, what’s wrong with that?

Imagine if the debates were like American Idol, with candidates “performing” their answers to questions before a panel of “judges” — and ultimately the votes of television viewers across the country. At the end of each round, the poorest performing candidates would be “voted off” and wouldn’t move to the next round.

Viewership of the debates would surge as Americans discussed with their friends and colleagues what happened on the “show” the previous night. And as more viewers voted to keep their favorite candidates around, more people would have a vested interest in the ultimate winner.

Just as the winners of American Idol often go on to became famous singers who sell out their concerts and sell many albums, the winner of the GOP presidential debate would have a ready-made constituency for the general election.

Some might think it’s unseemly to treat a presidential campaign like a game show. But our politics have been evolving this way for more than 200 years. Our earliest presidents thought it unseemly to even campaign at all. They never left their homes.

The Republican Party has its strongest field of candidates in years. There is no fair way to pick those who would be allowed on the debate stage. Even with as few as 10 candidates, the debates will seem like a game show.

Why not just embrace that? A game show format might lead to the strongest general election candidate Republicans have had in years, too.

 

By: Taegan Goddard, The Week, May 26, 2015

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Famous “Reality TV Star” Sarah Palin Laments That Politics Resembles Her World

After starring in her own reality TV show, camping with Kate Gosselin of Jon & Kate Plus 8 fame, dining with Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump, and cheering for her daughter on Dancing with the Stars, Sarah Palin has taken to Fox News, where she is paid handsomely as a contributor, to lament that the media creates “reality show intrigue” around possible GOP candidates.

In what is perhaps the least self-aware 16 minute television interview every given, Palin then proceeded to assert that “I am a proponent though of the media providing as much coverage of candidates in order to vet these candidates as possible,” even harkening back to the 2008 election cycle, when she refused most interviews and championed the idea of reaching voters directly, by saying that “we learned our lesson in electing Barack Obama who was not vetted by the media.” Who’d have imagined, based on coverage during the 2008 campaign, that he’d pass a liberal health-care bill, seek to raise taxes on the rich and wind up having been born in America? In all seriousness, it’s hard to think of anything that the news media has dug up about Obama that went unreported before the election but has since proven even marginally consequential.

Let us now marvel at the former Alaska governor’s latest attempt at determining who counts as a real American. “What’s going on in the real world, outside the political beltway where they call it flyover country I guess, the heartland of America, we’re having a hard time finding jobs and keeping jobs, believing that our economy is going to be solvent, and that we won’t be a country on the path toward bankruptcy,” she said. Already, the “we” makes this problematic: Alaska is not flyover country, nor is New York, where Fox News has its studios, or Arizona, where Palin owns a second home, and she doesn’t seem to be having a hard time getting work. Also note that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the states with the lowest unemployment rate in America during August 2011 were North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Vermont and Iowa in that order — and that the places with the highest unemployment in America, starting with the worst, were Nevada, California, Michigan, South Carolina, D.C., Florida, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia, in that order. The lesson: Palin’s obsession with privileged “coastal dwelling elites” and the long-suffering “real Americans” in flyover country and the heartland blinds her to reality.

Finally, watch as Palin zings her employer, Fox News, for allegedly spreading misinformation. “I think it’s kind of humorous to see the way that the media is covering these candidates. Let me give you an example of this,” Palin said. “Earlier today, Greta, on Fox News, you had a host who said, ‘Sarah Palin in the polls, she’s way way down there in the polls.’ And I’m kinda scratching my head going, ‘Wait a minute, on another network, on CNN just the other day, they showed a poll where I was within five points of President Obama.’ I was doing well, much better, than many of the other candidates, and I’m thinking, all this misinformation and contradictory information even from hosts on this network itself, it adds to the disconnect of not just the permanent political class, but many in the media also, because sometimes they don’t do their homework, and many times a host or a reporter, they have their own agenda. And they interject their agenda in the information.” If ever a network got what they deserved from an employee, it’s Fox News.

By: Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, September 28, 2011

September 29, 2011 Posted by | Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Journalists, Politics, Press, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Handle The Truth?: What The Public Doesn’t Understand About The Debt Ceiling

When a CBS reporter asked President Obama why a  recent poll shows that 69% of Americans don’t want the debt ceiling lifted, he responded by stating that “professional politicians understand the  debt crisis better than the general public.” As I heard the words come from his lips, I knew there would be outrage  on the right, and the left and certainly the right again!

The problem is, the president was right; ahem,  correct.

When posed with the question, “If you have a credit  limit and have  maxed out your credit card, should you raise your credit limit  so you  can spend more?”   Americans  respond with a resounding “NO!” as would I  if that were the question.

But here is the real question:

As an American, did you know if we do not raise the  debt ceiling and  go into default, that thousands of Americans will lose their  jobs? And  a 9% unemployment rate will be something you’ll hope for? Or that   programs like Homeland Security will be cut which I’m sure will make any   terrorist organization smile.

How about home owners and small business owners  longing for the  days of 2008? And that double dip recession the Republicans  were trying  to scare you about? Well, it certainly would happen. Speaking of   money, our bonds will be worthless; and if you think that TARP and the  bailout  were bad, that’s just an appetizer for the domino effect not  raising the debt  ceiling would have on Wall Street, perhaps worldwide;  just look at what  happened with Greece.

I mentioned that the president was right when he  said Americans  don’t know as much about the debt ceiling crisis as a  professional  politician; and I do believe that.   When some of the nation was  outraged or offended by his remark, I could  hear Jack Nicholson saying,  “The truth, you can’t handle the truth!!”

We need only   look at our own television viewing habits to see  evidence to support the president’s rhetoric.  Let’s take a  little  quiz shall we?

  1. Were  the Bush tax credits meant to last forever?  Answer: No, just ask the authors of the  legislation.
  2. When  is the president planning on removing those temporary  credits? Answer: 2013 and  beyond, not a massive tax cut taking place in  August.
  3. How  many times did President George W. Bush raise the debt ceiling? Answer: 7 times.

And where was the Republican outrage then? Answer: they didn’t have a  Democrat in the White House up for re-election!

OK…now a few more…

  1. What  former governor’s daughter was on “Dancing With The Stars?” Answer: Sarah Palin.
  2. What  was the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial? Answer: Not guilty.
  3. Who  was voted off (pick one) American Idol, The Biggest Loser or  The Bachelorette?  Answer: I don’t know, I was too busy paying attention to  the debt crisis.

The point is, most Americans would’ve been able to  easily answer the  latter three questions. We were glued to our T.V. sets during the  Casey  Anthony trial; not to CSPAN and the ratings prove it.  So don’t be  offended, the president’s not  saying you’re dumb. He is simply saying  you don’t have the time to spend 40-60  hours a week to do a job you  elected him and Congress to do.  Oh, and by the way, the latest poll  shows 47%  of Americans (Rasmussen) don’t want the debt ceiling lifted;  see even the CBS reporter proved the president right with his question.   Love that!

By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, July 13, 2011

July 14, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Consumers, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Middle East, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Small Businesses, Unemployment | , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Deceive, You Believe: A New Reality Show For Sarah Palin And Fox

I have a great idea for a new show on Fox. It would be  a reality comedy show with Sarah Palin as the host. It’s what Hollywood calls  “high concept.” The idea would be that all the Republican presidential  candidates would travel across America in Sarah’s RV. Hilarity follows.

Late night comic Jimmy Fallon put it best: “Obama was  in Ireland. He thought about buying a four-leaf clover for good luck, and then  he looked at the field of Republican candidates and decided it wasn’t  necessary.”

Dramatis personae include:

Gary Johnson—Ex-governor of New Mexico who  favors the legalization of pot. He didn’t get an invite to the next GOP debate,  but his hopes are high and he has grassroots support.

Herman Cain—Multi-millionaire and former CEO of  Godfather’s Pizza. He’s rolling in dough.

Newt Gingrich—Former speaker of the House. If he  really is a fiscal conservative, he would use his $500,000 revolving charge  account at Tiffany’s to make a payment on the federal debt. He is clearly the  jewel in the GOP crown. The former speaker is currently on a cruise with his  wife in the Mediterranean. He will return to the campaign trail after he  decides whether he supports or opposes the Ryan plan to gut Medicare. It might  be a long trip.

Palin—Can the former half-term and half-baked governor of Alaska see Russia from her magic bus? This trip is her  magical mystery tour because we have no idea where it will lead. She rained on Mitt Romney’s parade by showing  up in New Hampshire on the day of Romney’s formal announcement and popping him  for his support of a state run healthcare program in Massachusetts with a  personal mandate. National surveys indicate that twice as many voters dislike  her as like her. So, I don’t think she will get a mandate from Americans.

Michele Bachmann—Tea Party favorite and conservative  congresswoman from Minnesota. When baseball players have a short stay in the  majors, it’s a cup of coffee. She will have a cup of tea in the  presidential race. Last week, Representative Bachmann said she and former half-governor Palin were friends. That didn’t last long. This week, Bachmann’s  campaign manager said Palin wasn’t a “serious” candidate. At least the  Minnesotan and I agree on something.

Chris Christie—Governor of New Jersey. Teddy  Roosevelt described the presidency as a bully pulpit. Christie is just a bully.  Don’t be surprised if he helicopters into the race.

Rudy Giuliani—The former mayor of New York City. Why  not? He did so well last time. If he runs, he should borrow Donald  Trump’s toupee and MapQuest Iowa so he can find it this time.

Jon Huntsman—Ex-governor of Utah who served two years as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China. He will charge  Obama with  incompetence. Just look at the clown the president made ambassador to China.

Bobby Jindal—The governor of Louisiana who is not  ready for prime time TV. But that hardly disqualifies him in this field.

Mitt Romney—Former governor of Massachusetts and the  father of Obamacare.  This would be the grudge match of all time. Healthcare reform 1.0 vs. 2.0. A Romney position is like the New England weather.  Don’t like it, just wait, because it changes every 15 minutes.

Ron Paul—Paul is the anti-Romney because the Texas  congressman sticks to his positions for more than 15 minutes. Actually, he  still holds Herbert Hoover’s positions. But will socially conservative voters  buy his opposition to drug laws and will the neocons accept his opposition to  the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? I don’t think so.

Tim Pawlenty—The former two-term governor of Minnesota is as  bland as his fellow charismatically challenged Minnesotan, Walter Mondale. Jay  Leno described T-Paw to a t when he joked, “You know, I don’t want to say Tim  Pawlenty is boring, but his Secret Service codename is Al Gore.” Bland is good,  though, because the other GOP candidates have enough baggage to fill a Boeing  727 headed for LAX.

Rick Perry—In 2009, the governor of Texas threatened to  secede from the union. The question is whether he wants to lead or to secede.  Too bad Jeff Davis isn’t still around to be his running mate.

Rick Santorum—Why does he torture himself with  the hope he could win? Is the GOP this desperate for a candidate? He  lost his Senate seat in a presidential battleground state, Pennsylvania, by 16 percent.

This may be  why four out of 10 Republicans in a new Pew Research Center poll say they are not  impressed with the GOP presidential candidates. But I think the reality TV show would get  good ratings hammocked between Family Guy and The Simpsons on Sunday  nights.

 

By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, June 9, 2011

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Deficits, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Government, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Iowa Caucuses, Neo-Cons, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Oz’s Shameless Play For Ratings Discourages Life Saving Procedure While Demeaning True Cancer Survivors

The cardinal rule of practicing medicine is that old adage, “First do no harm.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the TV physician who was given his big break by Oprah Winfrey, apparently missed that day in medical school.

In this week’s Time Magazine, Oz manages to scare people away from getting important colonoscopy procedures while trivializing anyone who has ever faced a truly life threatening bout with cancer or some other potentially life-ending disease – and all in the service of delivering a few rating points.

The piece is entitled, “What I Learned From My Cancer Scare.”

Sounds like a real page-turner, yes?

It’s not.

It’s not because, by any reasonable person’s definition let alone what we might expect from a licensed physician, Dr. Oz didn’t have a cancer scare- unless you consider a cancer scare to include being told that you could possibly develop cancer in 10 to 15 years if you don’t have a simple, routine and painless procedure that people all over the world experience every day which, in virtually every instance, completely resolves the problem.

Indeed, Dr. Oz’s terrifying cancer crisis was something more akin to a child skinning his knee and being told that if his mommy doesn’t put a little iodine and a band-aid on the boo-boo, the open wound just might possibly fall prey to a flesh eating bacteria that will take the poor child’s life.

In his Time Magazine story, the doctor recounts his harrowing ‘brush with death’. We learn of the shock the Oz experienced on learning he had a pre-cancerous polyp – the same kind that one of every four men who has a colonoscopy routinely discovers and one that simply requires being quickly snipped from the colon.

Oz goes on to describe the extraordinary difficulty of sharing this heartbreaking news with his wife and the pain of informing his children that not only was their dad facing this life-threatening crisis (that wasn’t) but that his situation meant that they would be more likely to face this problem in their own lives. Tragically, his children would have to begin getting their own colonscopies at 40 years of age rather than the more typically recommended age of 50.

Oh, the humanity!

Oz goes on to express his angst over the question that filled his psyche, “How could this happen to me?”

The story is dramatic, heart rendering, poignant… and absolute hogwash. What the good doctor experienced was, by his own admission, something completely and utterly routine.

Here is how one of the nation’s top colorectal specialists described what afflicted Dr. Oz–

… this was a tiny adenoma, the same as anybody else. Adenomas are frequently found on colonoscopy with a minimum rate of 15% for women and 25% for men. Adenomas are the type of polyp that could turn cancerous over time (10-15 years) and that is why we remove them.”

That sums it up rather nicely.

The reason a colonoscopy is recommended for those over 50 is because, with age, we are more likely to have these pre-cancerous polyps in our colons just as we are more likely to find pre-cancerous growths on our skin. These polyps, if allowed to continue growing may become cancerous in 10 to 15 years, are routinely snipped out of the colon just as pre-cancerous skin growths are removed before the growth can become something dangerous.

As a result, anyone with any knowledge of this medical procedure knows that having a polyp removed during a colonoscopy is nothing to lose a moment’s sleep over and a great advertisement for why colonoscopy is a worthwhile procedure for us all.

Remarkably, Oz discusses how people avoid getting this procedure because they are afraid to face up to the result. He’s right. It is no secret that human psychology is such that we tend to think that if we don’t know a problem is there, we can pretend there is no problem at all. We avoid the test to avoid any bad news.

That kind of thinking is exactly what gets people in trouble-particularly when any such problem can easily be brought to a successful conclusion simply by having the colonoscopy procedure.

Yet, after pointing out this problem, Oz goes on to scare the you-know-what out of anyone who falls into this category by making his own story far more dramatic than the reality.

It’s really very simple.

If you’re 50 years old – or 40 if there is a family history – get the colonoscopy. Any polyps you have will be removed and you will leave the physician’s office comfortable in the knowledge that you have nipped any future problem in the bud. Repeat the procedure every five years so that any polyps that may have gotten going during the interim can be removed. The result is that your colon will remain happy, healthy and cancer free.

So, why was Oz so freaked out?

Beats me.

In describing Dr. Oz’s polyp, the physician who performed his procedure, CBS medical correspondent, Dr. John LaPook, said,

Statistically, most small polyps like his don’t become cancer. But almost all colon cancers begin as benign polyps that gradually become malignant over about 10-15 years.

Indeed, Oz was just another of these statistics-nothing particularly threatening or dramatic – except, of course, when Oz tells the story.

So, either Dr. Oz’s psyche is so sensitive that a routine matter easily resolved is enough to send his world reeling – despite allegedly having the medical knowledge to know that this was nothing much to sweat – or he knows a great ratings grabber when he sees one. I’ll leave it to the reader to reach a conclusion as to what might be the driving force behind Oz’s tale of terror.

I can, however, tell you how the Colorectal Cancer Coalition reacted to Oz’s histrionics when he first made a fuss over his experience on his TV show last September-

Did Dr. Oz scare you today?

The chances of your colonoscopy resulting in the made-for-TV near-death experience that Dr. Mehmet Oz detailed in a six-part video series on his show and website are highly unlikely. See, Dr. Oz didn’t have a near-death experience, and his colonoscopy story is very common. So can we cut it out with the hysterics, Dr. Oz? You’re scaring people.

Yes, there was a 10 percent chance it could have become cancerous over time, which is why it was removed. The rest of his overblown, overdone, overly-dramatic story, including his heartbreaking anecdote of having to tell his children (sob!) are for the mere benefit of getting people to watch his show.

Unfortunately, a side effect of Dr. Oz’s histrionics is that he’s taken a common condition and turned it into a death-defying act that will scare the living daylights out of anyone who may be approaching the screening age – or who may have already passed it. (If you’re like Dr. Oz and putting off that colonoscopy you naughty kid, go get screened!)

But the damage doesn’t end there.

Like many others before me and since, I happen to be someone who has had to tell my wife and children that I had been diagnosed with a cancer that could mean the end of my life in a rather short period of time. Not a pre-cancerous growth. Not “I might have a problem in 10 years and, oh, they can resolve the problem by just snipping something out in a fifteen minute procedure.”

No, it was looking like I was in some very immediate and serious trouble.

Of course, relaying this bit of information to your family is not a particularly pleasant experience and I’m one of the lucky ones who, after 6 months of chemotherapy (not a fifteen minute painless procedure), is still here to tell the story.

Imagine, if you will, how I -and the millions of others who have faced this difficult experience – might feel when Dr. Oz makes such a fuss about telling his wife that he might have gotten cancer in ten years if he hadn’t had the procedure that virtually insured that this wouldn’t happen?

It’s wrong on so many levels.

Yes, Oz is a television performer and, as such, must be concerned with his ratings if he wants to keep the big bucks flowing.

However, he is still a doctor and that comes with some responsibility- responsibility that Dr. Oz has sadly ignored. For this he should be very ashamed.

As for Time Magazine, would it have killed them to actually look into the reality of Oz’s non-crisis before putting this on their cover?

By: Rick Ungar, The Policy Page, June 2, 2011

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Consumers, Education, Health Care, Media, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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