Tag Archives: wtf

Hardball Questions For The Next Debate (2020)

[Previously: Hardball Questions (2016), More Hardball Questions (2016). I stole parts of the Buttigieg question from Twitter, but don’t remember enough details to give credit, sorry]

Mr. Biden: Your son Hunter Biden was on the board of directors of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, during your vice-presidential term. The Ukrainian government was investigating Burisma for misdeeds, and Hunter was allegedly one of the targets of the investigation. President Trump alleges that you used your clout as VP to shut down the investigation into Hunter, which if true would constitute an impeachable abuse of power.

My question for you is: if your son had been a daughter, would you have named her Gatherer?

Mr. Bloomberg: You’ve been criticized as puritanical and self-righteous for some of your more restrictive policies, like a ban on large sodas. You seem to lean into the accusation, stating in a 2014 interview that:

I am telling you, if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.

Let’s not focus on what this says about your humility, or about your religious beliefs. I want to focus on a different issue.

Despite spending $100 million in the first month of your presidential campaign, you are currently placed fifth – behind two socialists, a confused old man, and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. In, let’s not forget, an increasingly shaky effort to prevent President Donald J. Trump from winning a second term.

So my question for you is: what makes you so sure you’re not in Hell already?

Mayor Buttigieg: You are a gay Navy veteran. Your last name is “Buttigieg”. You are mayor of “South Bend”. And you first achieved prominence on the national stage for a New York Times editorial about your travels in the Horn of Africa, which includes the country of “Djibouti”.

My question is: is your campaign just the setup for a gay porno? Do you really think viewers want this much backstory?

Senator Warren: Despite your many years of service to the nation, media attention has focused on your claim to be descended from Native Americans. You told your former employer Harvard that you were of Native descent. Republicans accused you of trying to unfairly exploit affirmative action, but an investigation showed you did not benefit from any affirmative action at the time, leaving it unclear why you would do this.

More recently, you took a genetic test to establish your Native background. The test showed you did have a Native ancestor 6-12 generations back, but supporters were left baffled as to why you would take it or expect anyone to care. Conservatives used to the test to reignite the scandal around your Harvard employment, and progressives condemned you for promoting a view of race based on biology rather than culture or self-identification. The general consensus, again, was that you got no benefit from the test and it was unclear why you would do this.

The development of one of the algorithms that uses genetic information to determine racial background was called the “Warren Project” after its lead geneticist Jim Warren. Warren founded FamilyTreeDNA, a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company that continues to be a leader in genetic testing for ancestry, with about $16 million in revenue each year. This is relevant because Jim Warren is your ex-husband and the father of your children, who presumably stand to inherit a significant part of the FamilyTreeDNA fortune.

So my question for you is: is your campaign is just a publicity stunt to raise interest in genetic testing?

Senator Sanders: You are most famous for the 2016 incident where a bird landed on your podium mid-rally. Supporters have reasonably connected this to the ancient Roman practice of augury, where leaders were chosen by the number of bird-related omens surrounding them.

But auguries can be hard to interpret. For example, during the founding of Rome, Romulus and Remus agreed to use augury to determine which of them should lead the new city. The two of them went out and watched for ominous birds. First, Remus saw six vultures, which he interpreted as strong evidence that he should lead. But then Romulus saw twelve vultures. The two argued, with Remus’ claim resting on having seen vultures first, and Romulus’ claim resting on the theory that more vultures = more leadership. One thing led to another, Romulus killed Remus, and Rome ended up building the greatest empire in history. This firmly established the principle that even if one person sees birds first, another person who sees more birds may still be the rightful leader, if he sees enough of them.

So my question for you is: it’s been four years. How many birds would have to land on Donald Trump before you admit he would make a better president than you?

Mr. Yang: You’ve sparked interest with your proposal of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), a no-strings-attached $1000/month transfer to every US citizen. Experts say it’s totally infeasible, but “UBI forever!” certainly makes for a stirring rallying cry.

On the other hand are people who complain your proposal isn’t a real UBI. UBI needs to be enough to live on, but $1000/month wouldn’t even get people all the way to the federal poverty line. In more expensive regions like coasts and cities, it would be even worse. “UBI forever!” might be a good rallying cry, but “UBI (below a real UBI) forever!” is a little less rousing. Then again, US states make their mottos sound portentious by converting them to Latin; maybe that would work for you too.

So do you think a good slogan for your campaign would be “Semper ubi sub ubi”?