The stage is set, the podiums have been shined up, the microphones have been tested and it’s nearly time for the much anticipated (?) third Democrat debate. It kicks off at 8 pm eastern time on ABC, which will likely come as a shock to the handful of people who aren’t either watching the Jets play the Cowboys or out at a Christmas party or shopping. (And even among that small group, they’ll probably be shocked not to find a rerun of Grey’s Anatomy.) So what can we expect?

The big scandal of the week seems to have been resolved after Bernie Sanders fired his staffer who hacked Hillary’s voter data and the DNC came to a resolution with his campaign. It’s a good thing they caught that early and put a stop to it, because when I think of high tech hijinks and people mastering complex, web based data systems, I think of… Bernie Sanders.

Will Clinton or O’Malley be crass enough to bring it up? I’m guessing they wont. What’s the point, really? It does O’Malley no good and Clinton is so far ahead that she’d look like she was punching down. True, they are debating in New Hampshire and Bernie is still competitive there in the polls, but that’s pretty much the only state where he’s really close. I’m not writing off the moderators entirely yet because they may feel obligated to actually ask some tough questions. The show is being run by David Muir, Martha Raddatz, and WMUR-TV anchor Josh McElveen. Will they be so rude as to ask any questions about Hillary Clinton’s secret email server or the top secret documents we now know were stored on there without the proper security precautions? Might they mention the tens of millions of dollars which have flowed from foreign governments, Wall Street big wigs and wealthy private donors into the Clinton Foundation and how Hillary will handle those appearances of influence? Don’t be silly. They’ll focus on foreign policy. (ABC News)

It will be the first and only Democratic debate held in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire during the 2016 campaign season.

ABC News has said questions will focus on national security issues and foreign policy, following the deadly terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

You’ll notice that they mention the “first and only” debate in New Hampshire. Heck… it’s one of only a handful of debate they’re having at all. You don’t suppose that’s because the DNC doesn’t want all those questions I mentioned to be seen by the few people who will tune in? I’m not the only one asking that question. Will Wheaton of Star Trek TNG fame seems to think there’s something to the theory.

Of course, many of our readers won’t be watching at all, but that’s okay. This will be our overnight thread for Saturday so there’s plenty of other topics to hit. For just one example, we might chew over a subject suggested by one of our readers earlier today. Rush Limbaugh seems rather tired of the Republican Party.

And if the Republican Party — the recipient of two midterm landslide election victories in 2010 and 2014, which saw the Democrats lose 1,000 seats down the ballot, from the federal ballot all the way down to state governor, local, you name it. If the Republican Party is going to throw away its power of the purse, if it is going to react in abject fear whenever the media comes along and accuses them of thinking about shutting the government, then it doesn’t matter how much time you have to work the deal out.

They believe — and you can listen to any of the inside-the-Beltway establishment Republicans in the media and out talk about it. They literally panic and break out in sweats the very idea of a government shutdown. They are convinced that the people of this country have become so dependent on the government operating every day and giving things away that if the Republicans come along and are said to be thinking about it or even make a move toward shutting it down, that the entire country is going to hate them and never vote for them.

And so we can get no other budget deal than the kind we got. The GOP throws away all its leverage. The GOP throws away every bit of constitutional power it has. Not to mention it throws away its principles. Not to mention it throws away it’s… This is not a “far-right view.” This is a pretty simplistic — if you want to know the truth — political analysis of the situation. There are no far-right attitudes that are shaping any thinking here. This is just straight up and down political analysis.

There’s plenty more to cover, but we should probably just get on with the evening. You know that I’ll be tuned in to watch the debate. Well… at least until the Jets kick off, so I hope they pack a lot into the first fifteen minutes.

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