- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

They want in. The Libertarian and Green parties — along with their respective presidential candidates, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein — filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, charging that the exclusion of “qualified candidates” from the general election presidential debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates violates federal antitrust laws. It’s been a while since the third parties had their say in what has become a jumbo media event. There hasn’t been an independent candidate onstage since 1992, when Reform Party hopeful Ross Perot squared off against President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in three debates, ultimately garnering 19 percent of the popular vote.

The debate commission is a private, nonpartisan, independent nonprofit created in 1987 that has sponsored every presidential and vice presidential debate since then. Those left off the podium are plenty vexed, however.

“For over 25 years the Commission on Presidential Debates has used millions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions from big corporations to rig the rules, keeping Americans from hearing from anyone but the two old parties,” says Nicholas Sarwark, chairman of the National Libertarian Committee. “If two teams got together to make sure that only they could make it to the Super Bowl, people would be outraged at the cheating. With this lawsuit, we’re standing up for the right of Americans to have fair debates between all candidates who are on enough ballots to become president.”

The legal challenge maintains that the commission limits participation to Democrat and Republican nominees alone. The lawsuit demands a place on the big stage for all candidates “legally qualified to serve and whose names appear on enough states’ ballots to potentially secure a majority in the Electoral College.” The third party folk have also founded the Coalition for Fair Debates, an umbrella group for politicians and interest and advocacy groups.

“A majority of Americans do not believe the Republican or Democrat parties represent their views, and are more ready than ever to consider alternatives to the status quo,” said Ron Nielson, a senior adviser for the group. “They deserve the opportunity to see and hear from all the viable candidates — not just the Republican and the Democrat.”

THE TRUTH EMERGES IN SIX TWEETS

“Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards made $590,928 in 2013 equivalent to 26x the average salary of a medical assistant.”

“In 2014, Planned Parenthood spent more than $500 million on travel. That’s money that’s not going to women’s health care.”

“In 2012, Planned Parenthood spent $11,874,052 on advertising. 100% went to Democrats.”

“40 or more Planned Parenthood executives made $200k or more”

“Planned Parenthood spent $608,716 on galas from 2012-13. Why do they need taxpayer dollars?”

“Over the past 5 years, Planned Parenthood transferred $22M from its 501(c)3 to 501(c)4 orgs. This is political activity.”

— Six live tweets from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, during a hearing Tuesday examining taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.

AND IN SUMMATION … 

Cecile Richards contradicted her own organization’s record when she implied support for babies’ who survive botched abortions. She misled when she dismissed the overwhelming evidence against Planned Parenthood as ‘discredited, doctored videos,’ and she flat out lied when she claimed to have never said Planned Parenthood provided mammograms. What’s more, she claimed that abortion — a procedure that destroys one life and damages another — is a legitimate health care service,” says Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican and author of the House-passed Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, who questioned Ms. Richards during her appearance.

“As a nurse for more than 40 years, I will challenge that assertion every single time. Ultimately, today’s hearing further confirmed my belief that Planned Parenthood has skirted the law and should not by funded by hardworking taxpayers,” the lawmaker added.

MR. ROMNEY COMES TO TOWN

Mr. Gore will be along too. The seventh annual Washington Ideas Forum gets underway in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, drawing an unusual cast of notables poised to hold forth on “pressing issues and ideas of consequence.” Indeed, the ambitious, two-day event organized by The Atlantic and The Aspen Institute will feature Mitt Romney and Al Gore, along with 80 other learned folk from both sides of the aisle — ranging from Republicans Sens. Mike Lee, Tom Cotton, Bob Corker and John McCain to Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory A. Booker, MSNBC host Chris Matthews and Senior White House adviser Valerie B. Jarrett.

Organizers think in terms of “conversations”; all the big names will be interviewed by the likes of CNN’s Jake Tapper and NBC’s Chuck Todd, among many others. Will it simply yield more excruciating inside baseball chatter among talking heads and policy wonks? Maybe, maybe not. But the event deserves applause for interesting pairings. See for yourself, streamed live here at 9 a.m. EDT: TheAtlantic.com/live.

CULTURAL MOMENT

The Pantone Color Institute — a leading industry authority — has revealed the top 10 colors now poised to take over the fashion world for men and women alike. Don’t laugh. One of these could be on the next power tie that appears on Capitol Hill: Rose Quartz, Peach Echo, Serenity, Snorkel Blue, Buttercup, Limpet Shell, Lilac Gray, Fiesta, Iced Coffee, Green Flash.

MR. GRAHAM DIGS IN

I’ve been in the military most of my life. You don’t drop out. You don’t get a pass. When you go to Iraq and Afghanistan, you are a volunteer. How many people have gone three, four times? They’re not going to quit. I’m not going to quit I want to get on with leading the nation. Hell no. I’m not dropping out.”

— Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham, on his chances of dropping out of the 2016 race, during an appearance Tuesday on ABC’s “The View”

FOXIFIED

For the first time in its history, Fox News was the No. 1 network in cable prime time for an entire quarter, topping all other cable channels, including football-dominated ESPN, USA and TNT, according to new numbers from Nielsen Media Research. Does it mean that politics trumped the gridiron this time around?

Meanwhile, the ever-emphatic “O’Reilly Factor” has pulled its largest audience yet, 2.9 million viewers, making it the top-rated cable news program on the airwaves.

POLL DU JOUR

62 percent of U.S. voters are concerned that “scandals” would seriously affect Hillary Rodham Clinton’s administration if she were elected president; 78 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats agree.

35 percent of voters overall are not concerned about such scandals; 20 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 51 percent of Democrats agree.

58 percent of voters overall say Mrs. Clinton is lying about her use of a private email system; 82 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

51 percent of voters overall “feel betrayed” by the politicians in their own party; 60 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and 39 percent of Democrats agree.

40 percent overall do not feel betrayed; 36 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 1,013 registered U.S. voters conducted Sept. 20-22.

Sighs, trite talk to [email protected]

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