Nel's New Day

September 27, 2016

Presidential Candidate: Trump Normalizes Lies, Abuse

Satire has become more and more difficult as GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, goes over the edge in his ridiculous behavior as shown in the first presidential candidate debate of 2016. Satirist Andy Borowitz concludes his column, “Trump Threatens to Skip Remaining Debates If Hillary Is There”with this mocking comment:

“’I have said time and time again that I would only do these debates if I am treated fairly,” [Trump] added. “The only way I can be guaranteed of being treated fairly is if Hillary Clinton is not there.’”

Borowitz’s column on the debate is almost factual—probably more factual that the lies that Trump spewed throughout the 90 minutes. NPR provided an excellent 100-word summary with six additional videos:

“The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was a contentious affair with the presidential candidates clashing on the economy, taxes and terrorism. With discipline, Clinton pushed Trump’s buttons, attacking his business practices, accusing him of not paying his contractors and stiffing the American people by not paying federal taxes. Trump replied, “That makes me smart.” Trump was vintage: a visceral debater who touted his business acumen and accused Clinton of being a professional politician — “all talk and no action.” A 30-year career in politics, Trump said, has yielded nothing.”

debate

According to the CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers, 62 percent gave the win to Clinton, and only 27 percent thought Trump was the winner. The majority of two TV focus groups of undecided voters largely declared Clinton the winner after the debate—18 of 20 in a CNN group in Florida and 16 of 22 in a CBS group run by GOP strategist Frank Luntz. In these groups, voters leaning toward Trump had a better opinion of Clinton than the “undecided” voters did. One panelist said that Clinton “took control of the situation.” One alt-right group concluded that Trump “sucked” and gave ideas on how he could improve.

Although Trump has fixated on Clinton’s lack of stamina, he appeared to fade after the first 20 minutes of the debate. He also skipped a post-debate victory part and went home immediately after the debate.

Trump’s own surrogates concentrated on his possible success during the first half of the debate in a rather lukewarm fashion. Some weren’t even that supportive and criticized Trump’s entire part of the debate. On the Fox network, Laura Ingraham complained that the moderator made bad topic choices. In the spin room afterward, former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani said that Trump shouldn’t participate in the remaining two debates because he was treated badly in this one.

GOP lawmakers weren’t any happier. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) complained that Trump dragged out his answers and was frequently repetitive in his responses. Others said that he was ill-prepared and appeared too defensive. The only positive thing that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) could say about Trump is that he was “spirited.”

The low bar for Trump for last night’s debate required only that he look “presidential” and “non-sociopathic.” He failed. Trump may have looked moderately successful in a discussion about foreign trade, but his raving and incessant interrupting began immediately after that. The longest one was after Lester Holt gave evidence that Trump had supported the Iraq War at the same time that Clinton voted in favor of giving George W. Bush and ability to attack Iraq. The candidate kept shouting that people would know the Trump’s truth if they only talked to Fox network’s Sean Hannity.

A few of Trump’s failures:

  • He called the $14 million loan from his father “small.”
  • He couldn’t explain why he wouldn’t release his taxes.
  • He claimed that he didn’t pay for contractors because they had done poor work.
  • He justified denying housing to blacks by declaring that he hadn’t publicly admitted guilt.
  • He used the excuse of racist birtherism by saying that he just wanted to force Barack Obama to release his birth certificate despite Holt’s asking why he continued to be a birther. Trump finally said, “Look, it’s all words.”
  • He tried to play the victim—and miserably failed—by saying that Clinton wasn’t nice to him because she quoted many of the sexist comments that he has made about women.

Trump has lied about Clinton’s attempt to eradicate the Second Amendment by tacitly indicating that people should shoot Clinton. The Democratic candidate has consistently argued for sensible gun laws such as universal background checks. Last night, however, Trump argued that the police should take guns from minorities. In talking about his proposed unconstitutional “stop-and-frisk” program, he said, “We have to take their guns!”

Every time Clinton baited Trump, he took the lure. For example, she said, “Donald was one of the people who rooted for housing crisis. He said back in 2006, gee, I hope it does collapse then I can go in and buy some and it did collapse.” In desperation, Trump answered, “That is business.”

Unlike Trump’s opponents in the GOP primary debates, Clinton always appeared dignified and used specific facts for all her arguments throughout the first debate. She appeared to be addressing the television audience with her clear explanations. In contrast, Trump continually interrupted Clinton, accusing her of lying, spoke over her answers, and extending his time over Holt’s protests. Clinton almost always patiently waited until Trump finished, just as a person might do with a petulant small child, before she returned to policy statements. Although he didn’t admit he did a bad job, he complained of having a bad microphone after the debate had finished.

About last night’s debate, the editorial board of the New York Times wrote:

“When just one candidate is serious and the other is a vacuous bully, the term [debate] loses all meaning….

“There was a fundamental asymmetry to the exercise, because of the awful truth that one of the participants had nothing truthful to offer. But seeing them on the same stage distilled exactly who they have been throughout this campaign….

“Standing at the lectern, interrupting and shouting, playing the invisible accordion with his open hands, filibustering, tossing his word salads—jobs and terrorism and Nafta and China and everything is terrible—Mr. Trump said a lot. But as the debate wore on, he struggled to contend with an opponent who was much more poised and prepared than any of the Republicans he faced in the primaries.”

Joe Klein wrote in Time: 

“Her most impressive moments came when she wasn’t talking, when she was on split-screen listening to him. She didn’t waver; she listened with a perfect combination of attention and ironic bemusement, with just the slightest hint of “What a jerk” flickering at the corners of her eyes and her mouth.

“He, by contrast, huffed and puffed and sniffled … and sighed and groaned and mugged and drank water and interrupted, rudely, repeatedly. He made not one solid, specific proposal during the course of the 90 minutes.”

In a Newsweek opinion piece, “Donald Trump’s Sniffling, Humbling Debate Debacle,” Matthew Cooper wrote about Trump’s “smirks and pouts,” his “sniffles” and how he “seemed allergic to facts.”

  • Clinton has been fighting ISIS “her entire adult life.” No, ISIS came out under George W. Bush in 2004, and Clinton was born in 1947.
  • ICE endorsed Trump? No, government agencies don’t endorse candidates.
  • He wanted to protect President Obama with the birther movement? Totally preposterous!
  • The U.S. is a Third World country. No—he’s obviously never been to a real Third World country.

The debate shows a presidential candidate who has no soul. He will cheat anyone to make more money and then take pride in his actions. He even lies about opposing “professional politicians”; he just wants the position of president to make money for his businesses.

The worst part of the debate, however, is that the country is not more horrified by what a presidential candidate openly says to 100 million people. He finished his diatribe about Clinton’s accusations of misogyny was his “defense” by talking about Rosie O’Donnell. In 2006, she criticized him on The View about his affair while he was married and about his bankruptcy. That was ten years ago, and he still obsesses about it. At the end of the debate, Trump said:

 “Somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her.”

These are the same words that abusive men use when they talk about their female victims: “She deserves it.” And the media made very few comments about it because Trump has normalized not only lying but also abuse and violence with the support of over 40 percent of the voters in the United States. This is a tragic commentary on the culture of the country in the 21st century.

December 16, 2015

GOP Presidential Cage Fight

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 8:26 PM
Tags:

At times, last night’s debate among nine GOP presidential candidates seemed a bit like a cage fight, especially between Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The NSA surveillance program? Cruz voted to curtail it and Rubio supported it. Intervention in Libya? Cruz argued against U.S. efforts to create regime change in the Middle East, and Rubio wanted regime change. Immigration? Cruz accused Rubio of helping Chuck Schumer to pass the 2013 legislation that included a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. Even Rubio’s renouncing of his earlier position didn’t stop Cruz although he would not say what he would do with 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

One long debate among several candidates was whether the U.S. should kill innocent family members of terrorists.

Donald Trump said that the U.S. has to do kill innocent people to protect the United States. He thinks that it will stop the terrorists because “they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.”

Ben Carson called killing innocent people “merciful”: “You have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job rather than death by a thousand pricks.”

Rand Paul said that killing innocent people is illegal as long as the U.S. is part of the Geneva Convention.

[As Hillary Clinton pointed out: “The candidates on stage talk tough—but they won’t even support legislation preventing suspected terrorists from getting guns.”

Twitter lit up over two ignominious mistakes. Chris Christie plans to “stand across from King Hussein of Jordan” and tell him that he has a friend. Hussein died over 16 years ago. Pronunciation-challenged Ben Carson referred to the hapless RNC chairman as Reince Pubis. This follows Carson’s earlier reference to the Hamas as “hummus.” Other extensive Twitter discussions concentrated on which candidate kept coughing into his microphone and what Donald Trump’s heckler said.

“Political correctness” was frequently blamed for all the problems of terrorism. FBI Director James Corney singled out Ted Cruz because of Cruz’s complaint that nothing had been done about the most recent mass shooting after the couple had openly discussed their plans on social media. Corney pointed out that the couple had never posted plans on the Internet. The Senate Intelligence Committee also contemplated investigating Cruz about whether he gave out classified information during the debate. After a few hours discussion, however, the committee announced that there will be no inquiry.

Other debate moments:

Ted Cruz finally backed down from bombing the entire ISIS caliphate to focusing air campaigns where ISIS troops are located. (That’s what President Obama is doing right now.)

Marco Rubio suggested that Syrian refugees are not fleeing oppression.

Ben Carson complained that he wasn’t getting enough questions and then wouldn’t answer the first one he got when Wolf Blitzer asked him how he would evaluate whether a mosque or school is “anti-American.” He did give a semi-cogent explanation of how to treat Russia’s Putin, but the question was about North Korea.

Chris Christie blamed President Obama for the bomb hoax that closed the Los Angeles schools yesterday.

Donald Trump claimed, “ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet, and it was our idea… I certainly don’t want to let people who want to kill us use our Internet.”

Ben Carson, when asked about dictators in the Middle East, said, “No one is ever better off with dictators, but there comes a time when you’re on an airplane, they always say, ‘In case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down. Put yours on first and then administer help to your neighbor.’ We need oxygen right now.” (This is the man who complained about President Obama’s legal executive orders—far fewer in number than thoseGeorge W. Bush issued.)

Carly Fiorina said, “If you want something talked about, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”

Chris Christie declaimed, “We would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if they were stupid enough to think that this president is the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.” (Rand Paul responded, “I think that if you’re in favor of World War III then you have your candidate.”)

Running for governor in blue New Jersey, Chris Christie said that President Obama’s response to Superstorm Sandy had been “outstanding,” coordinating with the administration had been “wonderful,” and “the president has been all over this and he deserves great credit.” He told Fox News the president had done a “great job for New Jersey.” As he runs for GOP presidential candidate, Christie calls the president a “feckless weakling.”

christie

From the first debate:

Rick Santorum said that women are capable of fighting on the front lines and that he could reverse the Pentagon’s decision for this to happen. He claims he has studies … (In the past, Santorum accused women of bringing emotional, not physical, strength to combat situations, and that rape victims should “make the best out of a bad situation” by not having an abortion.” His problem with feminists, as he wrote in It Takes a Family?  “Radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace.”)

Mike Huckabee spoke about youth: “You know what I think we ought to tell young people? We aren’t going to give you anything. We’re going to give you the opportunity to get off your butt and go serve your country and secure your freedom. Because if you don’t, nobody else is.” He doesn’t want to reinstate the draft, but he wants to persuade more young people to enlist by reinstating the GI bill. “You give something to your country, your country gives something back to you. We need to ask young people to step up and buy their own freedom.” (Huckabee never enlisted in the military.)

Factchecking the debate shows that many of the false statements were made about other candidates. Other falsehoods came from the accusation of “political correctness” and incompetency. False also was Fiorina’s claim that good generals quit because the president didn’t like what they said, especially her example of Gen. David Petraeus. He resigned after caught giving classified information to his mistress. Gen. John Keane resigned six years before Obama took office, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal  left after his disparaging comments about Vice-president Joe Biden went public. As the AP reported, “Republican Debaters Go Astray.” And Adam Johnson listed ten “misrepresentations” of fact, including Chris Christie’s false claim that he became U.S. Attorney General the day before 9/11, a comment that he frequently makes.

This chart shows the veracity problem of several GOP leaders:

Lie chart

The oddest news about last night’s GOP debate was the way in which Rand Paul was included. CNN set up highly specific criteria—which it didn’t change—and then arbitrarily allowed Paul on the “big stage” for the sake of being “inclusive.” In this segment, Rachel Maddow explains how Paul didn’t technically qualify. CNN has a pattern of disregarding its own rules: four months ago, it allowed Carly Fiorina to be on the main stage although that time the network changed the criteria at the last minute. .

For the fifth GOP debate, CNN needed fodder to ramp up the ratings, and the network found it in fear and war-mongering. Terrorism was the only topic; even the Paris agreement about climate got only one short mention—and then it was negative. The discussion of terrorism in the U.S. focused on the Muslim couple in California who killed 14 people with nothing said about the Christian man who killed three and injured another nine at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic.

Candidates argued for taking out dictators, destroying Iran, shooting down Russian planes, starting cyberwar against China, spying on everyone, and above all putting far more money into the military—including nuclear weapons. Ted Cruz blamed President Obama for lacking the solution to defeating ISIS because he would not “utter its name.” Marco Rubio said that Syria wouldn’t have problems if the president had not “led from the behind.” Carly Fiorina blamed the Boston Marathon attack on using the “wrong algorithms.” John Kasich advocated “punching Russia in the nose.” And on and on.

Rand Paul was sometimes the voice of reason when he said that past efforts in regime change led to the failed states and violence where terrorist groups thrive. “Out of regime change you get chaos,” Paul said, “from the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam.”

Donald Trump sounded like a Democrat when he called the Iraq War “a tremendous disservice to humanity” that achieved nothing whatsoever, except to leave the Middle East “a total and complete mess.” He added:

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off.”

If you missed the debate—or want to experience it again—here’s the transcript complete with snarky comments that are likely to appear in television advertising throughout 2016.

October 21, 2012

Ain’t Some Religions Grand!

Less than a year ago, prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress condemned Romney’s faith, calling it a “cult.” Now he’s “made peace” with Romney’s Mormonism because he opposes President Obama more. Jeffress told Janet Mefferd on her radio show that it is still better to vote for Romney, even though he is a member of a “cult” and “false religion” that believes in a “multiplicity of god,” than President Obama because of his stances on marriage equality and abortion rights.

Another religious leader scrubbed away the cult, this time on the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Other religious groups haven’t caved yet: the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, lists the LDS Church as a theological cult, and the Catholic Church does not recognize Mormon baptisms as being theologically compatible with its own.

In another church-based sex scandal, 30-year-old Sovereign Grace Ministries with 80 congregations is being sued for sexual abuse against, failing to report these, and discouraging members from law enforcement cooperation. The plaintiffs allege a conspiracy of than two decades while church representatives permitted suspected pedophiles to interact with children, supplied them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution, and forced victims to meet with and “forgive” their molesters.

After Dinesh D’Souza accused President Obama of “attacking the traditional values agenda” and “traditional morality” in his best-selling “documentary,” 2016: Obama’s America, the president of an evangelical Christian college in New York, resigned from his position after it was reported that he shared a hotel room with his mistress at a religious conference. D’Souza is still married although separated from his wife. As for the film, the New York Daily News judges the material in the film as having “no evidence” and wrote that many of D’Souza’s opinions “don’t hold water.”

Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan’s atheist and anti-charity mentor, would be proud of the Catholic vice-presidential candidate. First he fights a safety net for disadvantaged people, saying that this will make them “victims,” and then almost single-handedly cuts donations to a non-profit, nonpartisan soup kitchen for the poor. Ryan went to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society (Youngstown, OH) soup kitchen last week without permission after people had finished most of the cleanup and washed a few “dirty” dishes that volunteers had saved for him.

Brian J. Antal, president of the facility, told the Washington Post that he feared Ryan’s political theater would jeopardize donations to the foodbank that annually serves over 100,000. Antel was right. Donations to the all-volunteer charity are down, but Ryan got his photo-op.  Donations to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society can be sent to P.O. Box 224, Youngstown, Ohio 44501 or online. Donors should specify that their donations are for the Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen.

In trying to explain away his disregard for women’s rights, Ryan has compared them to “left-handed Irishmen.” (Yes, he did say that the war on women was as fictional as war on left-handed Irishmen. But he still used the comparison!)

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has had to apologize—again!—after he accused his opponent, Elizabeth Warren of using paid actors in her advertisements defending the legal work she did on asbestos-related lawsuits. At least three people in the ads have complained about Brown’s offensive statements. Ginny Jackson, whose husband died of mesothelioma after working at a Quincy shipyard that was filled with asbestos, said, “What Scott Brown said today is so offensive to me and my family after what we went through. He’s sunk to a new low.” John F. English was more direct than Jackson. “Let Scott Brown tell me to my face that I am nothing but a paid actor, and I’ll set him straight on what it was like to watch my father suffocate to death,” English said. Nate Silver gives Warren a 89.1 percent chance of winning.

Also sinking to a new low is Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). After his debate with opponentTammy Duckworth, Walsh said that women never die from childbirth. He claimed that pro-choice advocates use the possibility of maternal death “to make us look unreasonable.” In fact, pregnancy-related deaths have increased  in the US, climbing to a rate of 15.1 deaths for every 100,00 live births . For black women the rate is 34.8 percent.

One poll has Duckworth leading by 54 percent to Walsh’s 39 percent. The super PAC Now or Never, which has already put $2 million behind Walsh plans another $2.5 million to “bury Duckworth” (the PAC’s words). Duckworth is a veteran who had both her legs amputated after a helicopter crash in Iraq.   

First Paul Ryan has yet to bring home his own state for the Republican presidential ticket, and now the Salt Lake City Tribune, Utah’s biggest newspaper, endorsed President Obama and attacked Romney. I’ve provided a few quotes, but the entire editorial is well worth reading.

“Who is this guy [Romney], really, and what in the world does he truly believe? The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

“And what of the president Romney would replace? For four years, President Barack Obama has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to pull the nation out of its worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a deepening crisis he inherited the day he took office. In the first months of his presidency, Obama acted decisively to stimulate the economy. His leadership was essential to passage of the badly needed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Though Republicans criticize the stimulus for failing to create jobs, it clearly helped stop the hemorrhaging of public sector jobs. The Utah Legislature used hundreds of millions in stimulus funds to plug holes in the state’s budget.

“In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.

“Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.”

The last presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow. The subject is foreign policy, and the format the same as the first one although the participants will be seated at a table. Moderator Bob Schieffer, like his close friend Jim Lehrer, has a reputation for being fair and balanced, but also non-confrontational. Lehrer described dealing with the candidates’ aggressiveness as a “form of hell.” He said, “That aggressiveness is new, that sense of, ‘I’ve got more to say, and to hell with the rules. I was surprised by that. I didn’t expect it. No pair of candidates have ever done that before,” added Lehrer who has moderated more presidential debates than anyone else.

The 90-minute debate divided into six segments seems to concentrate on the Middle East and thus terrorism: America’s role in the world; the war in Afghanistan; Israel and Iran; the changing Middle East; terrorism; and China’s rise. Once again, Romney will lie. He will accuse the president of single-handedly reducing the military budget a year ago because the bipartisan sequester will force this issue if Republicans remain intransigent—which they are sure to do.

Romney will lie about his position on China, failing to remember (because of his Romesia) that three years ago he protested Obama’s decision to slap tariffs on cheap Chinese tires flooding the United States:

“Long story short, the wrong answer for America’s workers and for the wealth of every citizen of this nation is to try and put up barriers to stop competition, either domestic competition or competition from abroad. The right answer is always to see competition as an opportunity and a necessity for investment, innovation, technology and becoming more productive.”

Later in his book, No Apology, Romney wrote, “President Obama’s action to defend American tire companies from foreign competition may make good politics by repaying unions for their support of his campaign, but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity.”

By the primary debates in 2011, Romney had reversed his position: “The actions a president can take are, No. 1, to declare China a currency manipulator. And under our law, that allows the president to apply tariffs in places where the president believes that China’s practices are killing American jobs.” When asked if this would harm jobs in this country, Romney said that you just had to forge ahead and do it and everything would be okay.

As for Libya and the death of four people there over a month ago, Rahm Emanuel declared Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) “reckless” for releasing Libya documents, thus endangering the lives of people still there. Romney will attack President Obama on the basis of veracity and competence, but he has to be very careful to not let his ignorance show as he did in the last debate. Instead he may concentrate on other areas such as Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia. This debate is a toss-up depending on how hard Romney hits, how people react to the hits, and how many missteps he has.

 

Today’s Good News: District Court Judge Neil Wake has blocked Arizona from applying a new law preventing Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving money through the state to provide medical care. Wake was a George W. Bush appointee based on the 2004 recommendations of both Arizona Republican senators John McCain and Jon Kyle. Can’t you just hear Fox news damning those liberal judges?!

October 16, 2012

Presidential Debate Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:38 PM
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Eighty-two New York voters watched tonight’s presidential debate in person as 12 of them asked questions about both domestic and foreign policy. Candy Crowley did a fantastic job moderating as Mitt Romney tried to push her, and she refused to back down several times. Although some of Romney’s statements were obviously “fact-challenged”—his denial about calling the Arizona immigration law a model for the nation and his false statement of the number of jobs that Reagan got—President Obama got a final punch in his closing when he quoted Romney “when he says behind closed doors” that the Republican candidate has thrown away 47 percent of the people in the United States.

President Obama was engaged, sometimes casual and other times intent on pointing out the inaccuracies of Romney’s statements. Romney tried to use his bullying tactics from the last debate, at some points even seeming to heckle the president. These attempts mostly failed, largely because Crowley stopped him. When his last debate’s tactics didn’t work, Romney sometimes gave a sickly smile and other times tried to deliver a “gotcha” attitude.

Before the debate, Think Progress gave five facts that we wouldn’t hear at the debate; they were right on target.

1. The deficit is largely a product of tax cuts and wars.

2. When US officials asked for more security in Libya, they wanted it in Tripoli, not Benghazi.

3. 72 million people would be uninsured under Romney’s health plan.

4. If the DREAM Act were passed, it would add $329 billion to the economy by 2030.

5. The “six studies” that Romney cites in defense of his tax plan are actually 3 blog posts, 2 right-wing reports and 1 op-ed.

They missed the omission of climate change in the debate. Marriage equality also took a pass in the selection of questions and the candidates’ answers.

Romney did manage, however, to repeat—and repeat—his worn-out statements that have already been proved “fact-challenged.” No, 50 percent of college graduates are not without jobs: that figure includes “under-employed” which means that these graduates didn’t get the jobs that they wanted. His figure of 23 million unemployed is wrong.

Romney claimed he had “saved” the Olympics by balancing its budget, but in 2002, he said he would have been unable to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City (UT) had it not been for the “enormous spending and services of the federal government.”

Romney said, “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing.” His white paper on education, “A Chance for Every Child,” takes a different position; he would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding and criticized Obama for doubling funding for Pell Grants.

Romney tried to claim that the president had done exactly what Romney recommended in the auto bailout, but he was wrong. Romney’s proposed path probably would have forced General Motors and Chrysler out of business.

Romney said Obama quadrupled regulations on businesses. Bloomberg reported last year that Obama had put 5 percent fewer regulations on businesses than George W. Bush.

Romney says 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost under Obama. Although that is true, manufacturing jobs had been falling for over a decade before Obama took office. The trend actually reversed itself beginning in 2010 and since then, over 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created, showing that the president has been very good for manufacturing.

Romney says he saw a recent study showing that Obama will raise taxes on the middle class by up to $4,000.  FactCheck.org called that claim “nonsense.” oil production.

Romney said oil production is down 14 percent on federal lands under the current president.  In fact oil production on federal lands is up overall under Obama.

When Romney denied that he had said Arizona’s immigration policy should be the model for the nation, President Obama correctly stated that Romney’s immigration adviser wrote Arizona’s immigration law and that of several other states.

In the argument over gas prices, neither candidate pointed out that presidents have almost no effect on energy prices. Most are set on financial exchanges around the world through speculation. When Obama took office, the world was in the grip of a financial crisis and crude prices–and gasoline prices along with them–had plummeted because world demand had collapsed.

The Republican candidate also worked in several half truths. He believes that “every woman should have access to contraception.” Romney omitted the fact that he believes in a “personhood” amendment to the Constitution that would eliminate the rights of women to have oral contraception and the artificial insemination that gave Romney some of his grandchildren. He also supports the Blunt amendment which allows any employer to deny the company’s insured women contraception on religious grounds.

Between platitudes, Romney worked in his stale comments about the “crushed” middle-class.  “I’ve spent my life in the private sector.” “I know what it takes.” “I know how to make that happen.”  These were frequent remarks from Romney in lieu of specifics.

His response to the question of how he would reduce the salary difference between men and women was particularly weak when he said that as Massachusetts governor he had his staff being him “binders full of women.” He finished the question off by saying that women should be allowed flexibility in work hours, as he did, so that could go home and “fix dinners for the kids.” But he never said that he wanted equal pay, only more jobs for women.

Romney also had no response to President Obama’s statement that “Romney was for assault weapons before he was against it,” referring to Romney supporting assault weapons in Massachusetts. President Obama had some other great responses. After a spirited discussion about how Romney would cover the tax cuts, the president said, If someone came to you and said I want to spend $8 trillion but I won’t tell you until after the election how I’ll do it, you’d never take such a sketchy deal.” He pointed to the audience and said, “You’ll pay for it. The math doesn’t total up.”

At another time, the president said, “Gov. Romney doesn’t have 5 point plan; he has one-point plan by reducing taxes for wealthy.” And when refuting Romney’s platitudes about helping women, the president said, When Gov. Romney’s campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter Act [that gives women the right to sue for equal wages for equal work], they said, ‘We’ll get back to you.’”

Romney’s had a bad day. Not only did the debate not work the way he probably assumed, but the conservative-leaning Washington Post shredded Romney’s bragging about his creating 12 million jobs during the next four years if he were elected. True, Moody’s Analytics, has predicted that these jobs would be created by 2016 no matter who is elected. But Romney’s policies could destroy these job creations.

Washington Post calls Romney’s claim “a case of bait-and-switch.”  The article explained, “The candidate’s personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade–which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney’s economic plan.  The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren’t the same thing — not by a long shot.”

Glenn Kessler gave Romney Four Pinocchios—again. Early ones were for Romney’s claim that President Obama wants to redistribute wealth, that he made an “apology” tour, that he would lighten work requirements in welfare, that he rewarded donors to his campaign, etc. Four Pinocchios is the worst of the rating; Romney managed to pick up several other corrections for his fact-challenged statements.

Romney will say anything to win, but tonight he took one too many chances. Jason Easley said, “When Romney was proven wrong in front of millions of Americans, you could see his balloon pop. His confidence was gone, and at that moment, Mitt Romney’s frail confidence was shot. (Anyone who has watched Romney’s debate performances knows that he is streaky. He runs hot and cold. In the Republican primary debates where he got off to a bad start, the night often got worse. Romney is not good at coming from behind.)”

Easley was talking about Romney trying to correct President Obama when the president said that he called the killings in Benghazi “an act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the tragic event. Crowley backed up what the president said. For weeks (or at least until the next and last debate this coming Monday) there will be long discussions about whether the president lied and whether Crowley was wrong to insert her statement.

Who won? The CBS poll judges it 37 percent for President Obama, 30 percent for Romney, and 33 percent a tie.  CNN said 46 percent for the president and 39 percent of Romney. Even ultra-conservative Charles Krauthammer declared President Obama the winner.

As Robert Kaiser said in the Washington Post, “Romney showed the same poise and debating skills we saw in Denver, but against a much more formidable opponent, they didn’t make such a strong impression, did they?” My opinion? The president brought it home.

Check out the transcript yourself.

October 15, 2012

VP Debate Redux

Another debate looms tomorrow night, this one with questions from the elusive undecided voters. A couple of weeks ago, the first debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, was objective but failed to guide the presidential candidates, especially when Mitt Romney was determined to take over through his incessant interrupting. During the vice-presidential debate, Martha Raddatz’s questions occasionally wandered into an ideological position.

Her lead-in to Iran stated that “there’s really no bigger national security…this country is facing.” It’s hard to know what she said during the ellipsis because of Ryan’s interruption when he said, “Absolutely.” It was either “threat” or “issue.” Either way the statement is debatable and definitely not objective. Her follow-up questions failed to address whether the United States has the right to attack any country it wants. After the past decade, preemptive attacks have become de rigueur.

Raddatz’s question about domestic issues showed the same disregard for objectivity: “Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?”  The myth that both Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt has been debunked by many economists, but politicians are so intent on getting rid of the two programs that they ignore them.

Raddatz also asked the candidates how they felt about abortion because they are members of the Catholic Church. Yet she didn’t ask how they felt about the US government’s military aggression and its subservience to the wealthiest, two issues which the Catholic Church opposes.

One issue widely publicized after the VP debate was VP Joe Biden’s laughing, something soundly ridiculed by Fox News and their followers. In a Rolling Stone article,  Matt Taibbi strongly supported Biden’s actions, saying that everyone should be rolling their eyes at Ryan’s and Romney’s avoiding any concrete answers.

One example he gave was Raddatz’s question to Ryan about “how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics, or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?” Ryan tried to convince the audience that they would succeed in doing this with Congressional bipartisan agreements. When Biden scoffed at him, Ryan said,

“Look–look at what Mitt–look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. They worked together out of a framework to lower tax rates and broaden the base, and they worked together to fix that. What we’re saying is here’s our framework: Lower tax rates 20 percent–we raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forgo about 1.1 trillion [dollars] in loopholes and deductions. And so what we’re saying is deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation …”

Once again, Ryan refused to answer the question about specifics, probably because there aren’t any. Instead, he and Romney will set the framework and then work out the specifics of getting there with the Democrats. He said in front of over 50 million people that the tax plan won’t be worked out until after the election. And by the way, he also said in front of 50 million people that he and Romney plan to get rid of Social Security.

Raddatz said, “No specifics, yeah.” And VP Biden laughed.

My favorite perspective of last week’s debate, however, comes from Oregon’s own David Sarasohn. His most recent column begins: “When Paul Ryan doesn’t want to be clear about a position, he tells a story. As we heard Thursday evening, that means it’s very often story time. So when Ryan was asked about Mitt Romney’s position on bailing out Detroit, or letting GM and Chrysler go under, he went into full storyteller mode.” Sarasohn then quotes Ryan about Romney helping a family that had been in a car crash. Nothing to do with Romney’s refusing to bail out Detroit, but a charming story about what a wonderful guy Romney is.

About the effect of Ryan’s budget on Medicare that leaves recipients without help? Ryan gave a lovely story about his mom and his grandmother. And Ryan’s belief that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) supported him, “a claim that always turns Wyden an interesting shade of purple, according to Sarasohn’s column. We in Oregon certainly know that Ryan was lying about his Medicare policy having bipartisan support.

What about the U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan in 2014? Ryan’s story this time was when he “sat down with a young private in the 82nd from the Menominee Indian Reservation who would tell me what he did every day.” Raddatz tried to move him along. Ryan moved into another story about one of his best friends from Janesville. Abortion? This time Ryan used an anecdote explaining why his firstborn was nicknamed “Bean.”

The benefit of these stories is that Ryan can talk a long time, look like a friendly fellow, and not address any issues. As Sarasohn said, “Politicians, of course, tell stories all the time: to humanize themselves, to connect with an audience, to provide an example that illustrates a policy. And sometimes, you get a story without the policy. That’s the story meant to lull you to sleep.”

Back to the elusive voters asking the question tomorrow night. Although 11 states (plus possibly Arizona) comprise the “swing states,” three may decide the president: Colorado, Florida, and Virginia. An average of the last two general elections shows that approximately 12 million people might vote in these three states; undecided voters are possibly six percent of these 12 million voters. That means that 720,000 voters may actually determine the next president. At least the rest of get to determine state and local elections.

Andy Borowitz has some acid remarks to make about tomorrow’s debate and the reaction to the first presidential debate:

“With his polite and well-mannered performance widely panned in the first Presidential debate, President Barack Obama is under mounting pressure to prove that he can act like an asshole in the second debate tomorrow night, a campaign aide confirmed.

“In America, we demand that our President remain cool and calm in a crisis but go batshit in a debate,” the aide said. ‘Tuesday night is all about that second piece.’ But even as Mr. Obama worked around the clock to practice being a douche, Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, doubted his efforts would succeed. ‘Being an asshole isn’t a skill that you can just pick up overnight,’ Mr. Rhoades said. ‘Mitt Romney’s been working on it all his life.’”

Aside: Yesterday I talked about the American Dream, and today this gem dropped into my email box: information about James Gustave Speth’s new book, American the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, that explains how America is not broke. The money is just in the wrong places. More about this later.

October 10, 2012

One Last View of Romney during the First Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:08 PM
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Much has been said about the Mitt Romney performance (such an accurate word) at the first debate a week ago. In one of his columns, Will Durst described this performance best:

“With an aggressive energy reminiscent of a well- groomed rescue Terrier, the Republican challenger immediately charged into the Oval ringship, steamrolling both the President and the moderator. He didn’t just dominate the debate; he twisted it into a logical Mobius strip.

“Contradicting almost every one of his previously stated core beliefs, the former Governor of Massachusetts claimed to have no plan for tax cuts, said good things about portions of Obama Care and demonstrated concern over the bailout of big banks. Don’t know who it was that blitzed onstage in Denver, but that guy could have done pretty well in Democratic primaries.

“In the 38 minutes Romney spoke, he put on a verbal gymnastics exhibition worthy of an Olympics final. Obscuring. Dissembling. Whitewashing. Changing positions. Twisting facts. Denying assertions. Just making stuff up. Doubling down on his own personal Etch-a-Sketch. Candidate Gumby. Only less green. Marginally. Let the bendy shaking begin. Next thing you know he’ll deny his 47% statement. What? Already? Wow.

“One possible excuse for Obama’s shocking passivity is he was stunned by the audacity of Romney’s mendacity. There were traces of “I can’t believe he just said that in front of people” smirks. It seemed all he could to keep from falling into the much- warned eye- rolling Al Gore Sigh Trap.

“Maybe watching Obama sleepwalking was responsible for time slowing down, but the debate went on forever. At least way past Jim Lehrer’s bedtime, who morphed from deferential to obsequious to invisible. Made the NFL replacement refs look effective.

“There’s plenty of time for both sides to retool messages for the next two confrontations. The White House can be expected to encourage the President to more energetically nail Romney to his own words. And despite renewed confidence, Romney will surely run intensive rehearsals to practice a different listening face that doesn’t reflect an annoyed patience, slight smugness, and just a disconcerting pinch of Sling Blade.”

[We have six more days before the next presidential debate, but tomorrow sturdy debate-watchers can see what kind of performance Paul Ryan will provide during the vice-presidential debate. My question is whether Ryan will just walk out if the questions get difficult in the same way that he has twice done within the past two days.]

October 4, 2012

Big Bird, Other Presidential Debate Issues

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:19 PM
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Like many people in the United States, I’m still musing about last night’s presidential debate. Part of me wants to be disappointed that Obama didn’t come out fighting, and the other part knows that our seriously racist culture would use any strong emotion from him to declare the “angry black man” meme. The conservatives have been promoting this image for the last few days with what they consider to be “shock and awe” of President Obama speaking five years ago about rebuilding the city of New Orleans.

For a reality check on the debate results, I asked a friend what she thought. The summary is great!

  • Lehrer was a disaster.
  • Romney was arrogant, aggressive, and rude ~ all without providing any substance.
  • Obama simply forgot to show up.

Yesterday I list a few fact-challenged statements that Romney gave, but there are more pieces to the puzzle. The most offensive thing that Romney said—and there were many—was his comparison between the president and Romney’s sons when they lied. When Obama asserted that the parts of Romney tax plan that he’s revealed shows that this would raise taxes on middle class people, Romney said, “I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something over and over so I’ll believe it.”

This is the way that Romney treats his commander-in-chief. Today’s Romney campaigners got even worse.  John Sununu, past New Hampshire governor, called President Obama “lazy” and “not very bright.”

Almost immediately after the debate, CNN provided a snap poll that showed 67 percent declared Romney the winner. Once again the polling methodology was a failure: most of the poll’s respondents were white, Southern, and over 50. Non-whites were so statistically insignificant as to register as “not applicable” when the numbers were assessed by race, as were samples of respondents from other regions of the country. They should have said that older, white Southerners declared Romney the winner.

According to many viewers, Romney won on style but not substance. He was the winner in another area: mendacity. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths. My favorite, that I didn’t even register although I listened to the debate, was, “I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” That’s the only reason that the wealthy are voting for him!  

The claim that Romney won’t decrease taxes for the wealthy is second only to “What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.” As a “businessman,” Romney has been intent on sending money overseas for at least 35 years. Number 3 is that future retirees will “have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them.” The voucher system will clearly cost younger people dearly when they reach retirement age.

Another of his myths has to do with banking: “But I wouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank… We need to get rid of that provision because it’s killing regional and small banks. They’re getting hurt.” Again, Romney lies. According to Dodd-Frank, the largest, systemically risky banks must abide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.

Out of the 27 false claims, Romney has now admitted that one of them is not true, the one in which he said that “about half of [the green firms Obama invested in], of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business.” As of late last year, only “three out of the 26 recipients of 1705 loan guarantees have filed for bankruptcy, with losses estimated at just over $600 million.”

Last night Romney was obsessed with the $716 billion savings that President Obama plans to remove from the Medicare budget. Romney said, “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.” Thus Romney wants to spend $716 billion that could be saved in a program that he intends to privatize. By refusing to save this $716 billion, “he’d have to cut other programs by an average of one-third by 2016 and one-half by 2022,” according to Jonathan Cohen, using figures from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But the $716 billion is no problem to Romney because he plans to transfer Medicare into a voucher program.

One statement that Romney made last night that resonated throughout the country was getting rid of Big Bird. Even then Romney was inaccurate: only 5 percent of PBS funding comes from the federal budget. It does make the statement from former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland sound correct when he said at the Democratic National Convention, “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”

The responses to Romney’s Big Bird statement did cheer me up a bit this morning:

  • “Obama Got Bin Laden. I’ll Get Big Bird.”
  • Big Bird is part of “Romney’s 47 percent.”
  • “Mitt Romney will end Burt and Ernie’s civil union.” [Okay, that would be sad.]
  • “Romney will fire Big Bird and Cookie Monster and replace them with the replacement refs.”
  • “My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?”—Big Bird

The Big Bird comment came from Romney’s ideas on decreasing the deficit while cutting taxes. He gave his test for dropping programs: “Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’ll get rid of it. Obamacare’s on my list. I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

First, China holds only 8% of the nation’s debt. Second, Obamacare doesn’t add to the deficit; it cuts the deficit $109 billion during the next decade. a year. Romney’s plan to erase Obamacare adds to the deficit. Third, PBS costs the country 1/100th of 1 percent of the Congressional budget. Romney skipped mentioning the other trillions of dollars.

Ultimately the voters will decide whether style trumps substance. An early view of this came from a poll of “weak Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but who remain open to switching” in Aurora (CO). Six in 10 respondents gave President Obama favorable ratings for his overall performance in the debate, compared with just one in seven who did so for Romney. Eight in 10 respondents gave President Obama high marks for coming across as likable and down to earth, while very few felt that way about Governor Romney.  The President came out with a distinct advantage over Romney on the important trait, “caring about people,” and respondents were much more likely to give Obama credit for being honest and truthful in discussing the issues. Despite the supposedly lackluster “performance” of the president last night, these voters didn’t seem to be swayed.

Conservative columnist David Brooks said, “I do think Romney looked aggressive–maybe a little over aggressive. He was like a bulldozer–he just kept going, and going, and going.” The question will be whether people want to keep the winner of the bully award for their president.

October 2, 2012

Readying for the First Presidential Debate, 2012

The first debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will be telecast tomorrow night, and Romney has a 47-percent problem. Forget the lore that voters have short memories when the Republican presidential nominee’s statements that he won’t be president for the 47 percent of people in the United States who are freeloaders. It’s been over two weeks, and a Washington Post-ABC poll shows that almost 60 percent of voters believe that Romney would favor the wealthy more than the middle class. Only 32 percent of voters had a favorable view of his comments as compared to 54 percent.

Alex Castellanos, adviser for Romney’s 2008 run for president, agreed  that the Romney campaign is right to be concerned about Romney’s problems. “The only thing in politics that is worse than voters deciding that they don’t like you is when voters decide you don’t like them,” he said.

Conservatives who have avoided watching the president speak will be forced to see him in action tomorrow night if they want to see their own candidate, and they may be surprised. In this morning’s piece on the debate, NRP played a tape of a woman who said, “Obama can’t speak without a teleprompter and he’s not smart enough to counter anything Mitt says.” These are the words of someone who has not heard President Obama speak.

One thing I, like most of other people in the country, am looking forward tomorrow night is if Romney comes up with any details. He’s been able to avoid anything but generalities and platitudes thus far because his only encounters have been with other platitudinous Republican candidates and the media who aren’t in a position to push him into information although they have been trying for the past few weeks.

An article from Reuters has described a few other areas in which people can see how the candidates fare. The first one is a no-brainer. With President Obama’s polling points rising, he needs to stay cool and avoid mistakes. Romney, on the other hand, has to take over, and aggression toward an incumbent president can be dangerous for candidates who want those elusive undecided voters.

People who remember The story of Richard Nixon’s shifty eyes over a half century ago know that, as a visual medium, television can undo a viable candidate. George H.W. Bush was thought to be bored when he looked at his watch during a 1992 debate with Bill Clinton, who became president, and Al Gore annoyed the audience by repeatedly sighing during a 2000 debate with George W. Bush. Body-language expert Janine Driver said that shoulder shrugs can indicate uncertainty and a wrinkled upper lip disgust while eye blinking, either too much or too little, can convey stress. Turning his body toward his opponent is a way for a candidate to demonstrate confidence.

The first 30 minutes of the debate sets the tone: candidates need to deliver their most important moves during this time while pundits are still trying to figure out how things are going. Gore adviser Ron Klain wrote, “While you can lose a debate at any time, you can only win it in the first 30 minutes.” That’s the time that candidates will probably try to get the other to justify what they say, especially if the candidates (mostly Romney) is fact-challenged.

Romney’s explanations of how his policies are different from those of George W. Bush will be most interesting because they aren’t. Yet he can’t say that he’s following these failed policies. “Until Governor Romney can show why his policies would be different from Bush’s policies, then we think it is highly unlikely that he can win,” Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Brian Gardner wrote in a research note. The conservative National Review wrote that Romney should acknowledge that problems like the mounting national debt and the Byzantine tax code were in place long before Obama took office, but argue the current president has failed to fix them. This will be the most delicate balance: Romney can’t throw Bush under the bus, but rejection of his policies can anger his base.

The first debate will focus on the economy, but there are parts of the economy that won’t be mentioned tomorrow night. Nobody will point out that an immediate deficit reduction will eradicate any economic recovery. Part of our problem now with sluggish economic recovery is that government cut spending, laying off workers and cancelling orders for stuff that generates income in the private sector. The situation trickles down as more and more people lose their jobs. But neither candidate will mention this tomorrow because too many people refuse to believe the trickle-down poverty.

Another fact that people refuse to believe—and that won’t be mentioned—is that taxes are the lowest they have been for over a half century which keeps the country from investing in its infrastructure. People complain about the bumpy highways and dangerous bridges while, at the same time, refusing to invest in their maintenance. Nobody will mention tomorrow night that tax cuts were effective when taxes were over 70 percent. Now one of the candidate, a multi-millionaire, pays less than 14 percent in taxes. There’s not much more to cut. And forget about those “job creators.” People like Romney who pay a top of 15 percent for capital gains don’t hire anyone except maybe someone to mow is lawns.

In a discussion about Medicare, one candidate wants to have almost useless vouchers (at least today) and the other wants to pretty much maintain the status quo. But the answer is to eliminate the waste, a program that the Affordable Care Act will pilot. Saying this, however, is dangerous. Another solution to save money, that of controlling the astronomically high expenses for drugs, is also a subject that cannot be introduced.

Neither candidate can bring up the outrageous expenses of the U.S. military, more than double it was a decade ago. To get votes, candidates have to promise they will protect the Pentagon from any cuts, even though it takes 20 percent of the budget. As an example, the U.S. has eleven large nuclear-powered carriers while China has one that may not ever be functional. At the same time, conservatives want a twelfth.

While the military is seriously overfunded, the education system in the nation is at the opposite end of the spectrum, receiving about 2 percent of the federal budget. Students pay higher and higher tuition as they fall deeper and deeper into debt. Investment in education would pay off in the future, but in its attempt to destroy all unions in the country, conservatives concentrate more and more on bashing teachers and complaining about the schools while privatizing them and decreasing the budget. Reducing taxes and spending is “for the kids,” according to conservatives, but they aren’t willing to give them an education.

The best pre-debate piece comes from Eugene Robinson: It starts, “Wednesday’s presidential debate promises sharp contrasts. One candidate wants to repeal Obamacare, one candidate invented it. One opposed the auto industry bailout, one takes credit for it. One doubts the scientific consensus about climate change, one believes in it. One wants to “voucherize” Medicare, one wants to save it. One dismisses nearly half of Americans as a bunch of moochers, and one claims to champion the struggling middle class. It promises to be an epic clash: Mitt Romney vs. Mitt Romney. Oh, and President Obama will be there, too.”

Robinson continues to identify more opposing positions from Romney: pro-choice before he was anti-abortion; stricter gun control before he opposed it; tax cuts that will add revenue; moderate before he became ultra conservative and then swerved a little toward moderate again. The current joke about Romney is that he’s been memorizing and practicing zingers since August.

Correction: Jim Lehrer is moderating the first 2012 presidential debate today. Candy Crowley will be moderating the one on October 16.

CNN is sponsoring tomorrow’s presidential debate with Candy Crowley moderating. UltraViolet, a women’s rights group, is petitioning CNN to fire Erick Erickson and then boycott CNN for not firing Erickson after his consistently sexist remarks. The tipping point was his comparison of the Democratic National Convention to Eve Ensler’s feminist play The Vagina Monologues. His “apology” was typical: “My apologies to those offended by my tweet. Wasn’t my intention.” Nothing about recognizing that his words were inappropriate.

This wasn’t the first time that Erickson made shameful statements: he’s defended Rush Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a “slut”; he accused women in the Obama Administration of pushing U.S. intervention in Libya “like women drivers” with “no plan,” “no map,”, and “no shopping list”; and he’s supported Rep. Todd Akin (R-MI) after his “legitimate rape” comments. UltraViolet is still circulating a petition.

Personally, I’m watching the debate on MSNBC; Rachel Maddow does a great job moderating panels about political events and includes both Republicans and Democrats for a truly balanced discussion.

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