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Yes, It's Complicated

Here's another piece of the puzzle on Ted Cruz's eligibility. Bryan A. Garner has written a "legal memorandum" at the Atlantic on the various legal questions that come into play in determining with Cruz is a natural born citizen. As with other serious looks at the issue in recent days, I'm struck by how complicated, unsettled, and genuinely up in the air the legal question actually is.

Garner ultimately concludes that a court would find Cruz to be eligible, but it's not an easy or straightforward call, and it's predicated on several untested assumptions precisely because there are not prior court rulings that you can point to and say, ah ha!, this is the definitive answer. But one part of his analysis in particular jumped out as a key element.

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This Was Only About Three Men

This debate had a lot of drama and pyrotechnics. But debates lead to elections. And elections are zero-sum exercises. Everyone who does well must do so at someone else's expense. From that perspective, I think there were only three real players in this exercise: Trump, Cruz and Rubio. Trump wins, Cruz loses a bit of ground but not much and the clock continues to run out on Rubio.

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Rubio's Wild Moment

Alright, that tirade from Rubio was something I'd expect from some crazy ranter on Fox or maybe Pam Geller. He is claiming that ISIS has a systematic plan to "manipulate" the immigration system, infiltrating engineers, doctors, people over the Southern border. Apparently, ISIS infiltrated the wife of the jihadi couple in San Bernardino into the country. There might be hints and shreds of evidence for some of this. But this is a tapestry of exaggeration, BS and just nonsense. And it seems like this is his answer, finally an answer, for his complete turnaround on immigration. Well, that was 2013 before ISIS. So everything's different now. That was just plain bizarre.

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Long March Debate Blogging

10:13 PM: I've seen a million of these debates and I've seen very few comebacks, smackdowns quite as total or as successful as that New York values exchange between Cruz and Trump. 9/11 is unassailable in a GOP primary. It's the ur-event in current GOP foreign policy. And the genuine somberness of Trump was a fitting rejoinder to Cruz's crass and fairly gross pandering to the various unlovely meanings of "New York values." He literally had Cruz clapping for him before he was half done.

10:20 PM: "Muslim friends"

10:21 PM: As dark as it may be, Trump understands, breathes this language perfectly. We have to stop being stupid. People are laughing at us. It hits all the sensitive points: weakness, humiliation, strong and weak, dominating and dominated.

10:23 PM: "I want security for this country." Clear.

10:25 PM: Not perfect, not a lot I agree with. But Kasich, albeit very conservative in the 1990s, is basically a throwback to the pre-Bush43 GOP. An actual center-right party.

10:28 PM: Cruz calls President an "apologist for radical Islamic terrorism."

10:32 PM: Textiles and similar industries have been devastated going back decades in South Carolina and support for protectionist policies has run very high. Trump knows his audience here.

10:36 PM: I'm not sure Marco Rubio fully grasps the impact of tariffs.

10:54 PM: This is a truly surreal exchange, a debate over tax policy that 5% of the electorate cares about or understands, about policies that will never happen, judged on the basis of who the ghost of Ronald Reagan agrees with.

Blitzkrieg Debate Live Blog

9:01 PM: And here we go.

9:09 PM: Did Cavuto just blame the financial crisis on Obama?

Governor Kasich, we are not even two weeks into this stock trading year. Think about it investors have already lost $1.6 trillion in market value. That makes it the worst start to a new year ever. Many worry things will get even worse, banks and financial stocks are particularly vulnerable. If this escalates like it did back when Barack Obama first assumed the presidency, what actions would you take, if the same thing happens all over again just as in this example you are taking over the presidency?

9:15 PM: I think someone told Marco Rubio this night may be the last chance. Whoever did was right.

9:18 PM: God. I really can't process Ben Carson. An enemy power has nuclear warheads that it can deliver by ballistic missiles. So they explode a few in the stratosphere to zap our electrical grid. And then they have on the ground terrorists exploding dirty bombs? Plain old, vanilla nuclear weapons are really devastating. No need to get fancy. I think they'd go with the straight up nuclear weapons. Why Alex Jones it?

9:23 PM: Only surprise for me so far is that all the animus and attacks are directed outward. No intramural attacks so far.

9:26 PM: I don't know what commercials people are seeing in other parts of the country. But in New York, to give you a sense of the Fox Business market, it seems like half the commercials are for private jet charters.

9:26 PM: Here we go.

9:29 PM: That was well-rehearsed. Tries to evoke Reagan in 1984.

9:31 PM: This is such a bizarre exchange.

9:33 PM: I'm curious why Trump doesn't find someone besides Larry Tribe to cite. It's such an easy swipe back. There are lots of others. Trevor Potter just to start with.

9:37 PM: Trump was wobbly on the eligibility question. But he knocked the anger question out of the park. He knows his argument.

9:40 PM: Not that it will do Christie much good. But he just crushed Rubio. Made him look stupid.

9:44 PM: To Kasich's credit, he ignored the toxic import of what Bartiromo was getting at with the Sanders question.

9:46 PM: Why is Ben Carson in this debate?

Pre-Debate Toxicity Update

I know there are only a few people who watch Fox Business News. But watching it, it has the feel of the place the Fox News folks go when they don't want to feel the PC constraints of vanilla Fox News. A colleague said it had the feel of the men's locker room at the country club on Saturday mornings. It was half surprised the male guests weren't catcalling the female guests.

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