Daily Archive: October 24, 2012

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The 3rd Obama – Romney Debate: Foreign Policy

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The third and final debate between President Barack Obama and his challenger, Governor Mitt Romney took place in Boca Raton, FL at Lynn University moderated by Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation.” The focus was on foreign policy with most of the questions centering on the unrest in the Middle East, the conflict in Afghanistan, the military and the war on terror. Many of the pundits and snap polls gave the “win” to Pres. Obama, who let loose with a few well placed “zingers” in response to Gov. Romney’s criticism of his foreign policy. The “horses and bayonets” quip countering Gov Romney’s criticism of the US Navy’s fleet strength. Here is some the more balanced analysis from the left who had as much to say about the Obama administration’s bungled foreign policy, as they did about the dubious future policies of a President Romney.

From David Dayen, FDL News Desk, article, We Don’t Have an American Foreign Policy Debate

While Mitt Romney hid behind Barack Obama and displayed about as much independent thought as a college student who didn’t cram enough the night before the test and spent the whole time looking at his neighbor’s paper, his neighbor Barack Obama reflected so strongly the smoldering wreck that is this nation’s foreign policy consensus.

It’s amazing that the Republican Party, once associated almost totally with a “strong national defense,” would give up so completely on foreign policy, to the extent that they have no identity whatsoever on the issue. Romney agreed with every Obama position but said the nation needed a “comprehensive strategy” to deal with the world, the equivalent of Gerald Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” buttons, a signifier without anything behind it.

But it’s also amazing to me that anyone would call the Republican candidate Peacenik Mitt, since on the one area by which we wage war in the 21st-century world, Mitt agreed “completely” on the use of drones. That’s increasingly the only way America and the west fights wars these days. So agreement on drones means agreement on the war strategy for the world powers over the next several decades. [..]

When war policy gets reduced to “send flying robots overhead to strike,” eliciting no sacrifice on the part of the general population, it becomes much easier to make these calls, to sign off on interventions in Libya or Somalia or Yemen or Mali or wherever else. [..]

From Glenn Greenwald‘s comments during the live blog of the debate at The Guardian:

9.34pm: Both candidates are eager to ignore the topic of this debate – foreign policy – in order to talk about the economy because they perceive, accurately, that this is what most voters care about, and because they don’t really have much to disagree in the foreign policy area. And so they are now dispensing with any pretense and regurgitating their economics debate.

But US foreign policy actually does have a significant relationship to the economy- namely, the massive military, the constant aggression, war and occupation, the hundreds of military bases around the world all drain resources away from far more constructive purposes – but neither of these two candidates will dare to question any of those imperial premises, so they can’t actually address the prime economic impact of US foreign policy. [..]

10.22pm: A primary reason this debate is so awful is because DC media people like Bob Scheiffer have zero interest in challenging any policy that is embraced by both parties, and since most foreign policies are embraced by both parties, he has no interest in challenging most of the issues that are relevant: drones, sanctions, Israel, etc.

10.34pm: That was just a wretched debate, with almost no redeeming qualities. It was substance-free, boring, and suffuse with empty platitudes. Bob Scheiffer’s questions were even more vapid and predictably shallow than they normally are, and one often forgot that he was even there (which was the most pleasant part of the debate.)

The vast majority of the most consequential foreign policy matters (along with the world’s nations) were completely ignored in lieu of their same repetitive slogans on the economy. When they did get near foreign policy, it was to embrace the fundamentals of each other’s positions and, at most, bicker on the margin over campaign rhetoric.

Numerous foreign policy analysts, commentators and journalists published lists of foreign policy questions they wanted to hear asked and answered at this debate. Almost none was raised. In sum, it was a perfect microcosm of America’s political culture.

10.56pm: Echoing a common refrain of progressives, Andrew Sullivan after the debate says that Obama has “restored America’s moral standing in the world”. I suppose one can say that if one excludes the entire Muslim world from “the world”, as many do, because in that rather large and important part of the world, there has been no restoration of any kind. Quite the opposite. See, just as a beginning, here, here, here, and here.

From lambert‘s Mission elapsed time: T + 45 and counting* at Corrente:

Obama vs. Romney Round III. Recently, I’ve started taking the bus into town, so I can caffeinate myself and work on my laptop in a milieu that could make me feel like I lived in a city again, if I were able to suspend disbelief, which I can’t.

Point being that I take the last bus home, and the last bus here, like last buses everywhere, is filled with characters. A selection of characters I’m highly confident is drawn from populations that are under this or that form of supervison. Most exhibit detailed knowledge of pharmaceuticals, especially barbiturates. Their language is technical and official. They are expert in brands, dosages, arrests, trials, hearings, sentences, and treatment regimens. They trade tips. Most present well; they speak fluently and often, especially of compliance, recovery, and the disasters of others.

And heaven knows what they do when they get home.

So, tonight, listening to our affectless, sweating, droning candidates speak so fluently and present so well, I couldn’t but be reminded of junkies on the last bus. Because it really is about the next fix with these guys, isn’t it? It always is, with junk. Oil, money, power: Junk. Right in the imperial vein.

From Gary Younge‘s comment at The Guardian:

Obama fires and Romney falters but third debate fails to find a flourish

The president did better than an unconvincing Romney – but it’s difficult to imagine this debate changed minds or won hearts

If the world could vote on 6 November, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. A global poll for the BBC World Service revealed that 20 out of 21 countries preferred the president to his challenger. But when you watched the presidential debate on foreign policy on Monday night you had to wonder why. Not because Mitt Romney was better, but because on matters of policy, Obama was almost as bad. It takes a friend to reveal the harsh truth to the global community, so here it is: “Obama’s just not that into you.”

No one could love Israel more, care less about the Palestinians, put more pressure on Iran or be a greater fan of drone attacks or invading Libya. Both candidates agreed that America’s task was to spread freedom around the world: nobody mentioned Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib or rendition. “Governor, you’re saying the same things as us, but you’d say them louder,” said Obama. It was a good line. The trouble was it condemned them both.

Charles Pierce, in his analysis at Esquire noted some significant glaring ommissions:

A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention climate change. (Four debates and nary a mention. Somebody else is going to have to tell the polar bears.) A discussion of foreign policy that mentioned teacher’s unions exactly as many times – once – as it mentioned the Palestinians, and I am not making that statistic up. A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention hunger, or thirst, or epidemic disease, but spent better than ten minutes on The Fking Deficit. (Here Romney cited in defense of his position that noted political economist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.) A discussion of foreign policy that was all about threats, real and imagined, and wars, real or speculative, and weapons, and how many of them we should build in order to feel safe in this dangerous world.

There is no light between them.

Left and Right Must Unite

None of us here believe that we have a healthy political situation. You have to be utterly deluded and living in the Matrix to believe that our Presidential elections are anything but tragic reality shows that are mainly staged and mainly fiction. The candidates are surfing the always slightly shifting mythological frameworks of “the people.” These frameworks are shaped and formed by corporate oligarchs in order to 1) make people insensitive to the sufferings of others; 2) make them confuse fantasy and reality; and 3) tell them that the narrow band of possible opinions and choices is “all there is.” The two Presidential candidates claim to be on the right or the left but are neither. They are both conservatives in the sense that they seek to conserve the power of the current oligarchy with slightly different means.

What this election signifies, however, is important. The election may well be about the strength of our social contract. Should we get on with the process of dismantling the social contract that has been in place since FDR? A vote for Romney is a vote for that process of dismantling. A vote for Obama is a vote for keeping it propped up with duct tape and wire. In fact, either way the world that FDR and his “brain thrust” created will shortly be a thing of the past–the question is whether a majority of Americans clearly wants it to end. If they choose Obama they will choose a “soft landing” of that system and perhaps a new minimalist national system can be created–though I doubt it. The oligarchs are so firmly in control at this time that they can easily create the system that works best for them and what works for them is neo-fuedalism.  

Stock Market Tumbles on Bad News

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette.

U.S. Stocks Fall Sharply

by Nathaniel Popper, New York Times

The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day down 1.8 percent, or 243.36 points, to end at 13,102.53, its worst performance since June. The losses added to the big declines on Friday, and dropped leading indexes to their lowest levels since early September, before the Federal Reserve announced its latest monetary stimulus program.

Since the Standard & Poor’s 500 index hit this year’s high of 1,465.77 on Sept. 14, the benchmark index has fallen 3.6 percent. It finished Tuesday down 1.4 percent, or 20.71 points, to 1,413.11.

Share futures were falling even before the opening bell because of disappointing financial results from American companies. The chemical maker DuPont said Tuesday morning that its revenue was down 9 percent in the third quarter from a year ago, and that it would eliminate 1,500 jobs. The company’s stock ended down 9.1 percent.

Thomson Reuters said Tuesday that 63 percent of the companies that have reported earnings so far have given revenue figures for the third quarter that were lower than what analysts expected.

Stock Market Suffers Worst Day In Months On Bernanke Separation Anxiety

by Mark Gongloff, Huffington Post

The stock market is freaking out like Bill Paxton’s panicky marine in “Aliens,” yelling “Game over, man! Game over!” All because it’s afraid of losing Ben Bernanke.

Late in the trading day on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 200 points, on track for its worst one-day loss since June. What had it in such a tizzy? There were lots of good reasons — third-quarter corporate earnings have been kind of awful, and Europe’s endless debt crisis continues.

But the main catalyst, according to Wall Street‘s best and brightest, are a couple of New York Times stories today, one by the well-sourced Andrew Ross Sorkin, suggesting that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke probably won’t sign up for another term when his second term as Fed Chairman ends in January 2014. Binyamin Appelbaum runs through a handful of the possible replacements in a Mitt Romney administration, and at least one of them — Stanford’s John Taylor — is known to be opposed to Bernanke’s easy-money policies.

Of course the idea that Bernanke might be leaving should shock nobody, really. After eight years of riding herd on the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, all the while being accused of treason and threatened with old-fashioned Texas lynchings, did anybody really expect that Ben would want another four years of this?

Apparently so. The market indeed seems shocked and horrified by the idea that it will no longer be able to depend on what’s come to be known as the “Bernanke Put” — the implied promise that Bernanke won’t let the stock market fall too far before riding to the rescue with another helicopter-load of money.

Sounds like a combination of the continued recession at the bottom of the economic stratus is trickling up to the top, at last, and the poor dears on Wall St. are concerned that they’re losing their “sugar daddy”. Tell me again why they hate Obama?

Cartnoon

Gone Hare Brained Hypnotist.  This one originally posted July 22, 2011.

Duck Soup to Nuts

On This Day In History October 24

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 24 is the 297th day of the year (298th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 68 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1901, a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel. After her husband died in the Civil War, the New York-born Taylor moved all over the U. S. before settling in Bay City, Michigan, around 1898. In July 1901, while reading an article about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, she learned of the growing popularity of two enormous waterfalls located on the border of upstate New York and Canada. Strapped for cash and seeking fame, Taylor came up with the perfect attention-getting stunt: She would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Desiring to secure her later years financially, she decided she would be the first person to ride Niagara Falls in a barrel. Taylor used a custom-made barrel for her trip, constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. Several delays occurred in the launching of the barrel, particularly because no one wanted to be part of a potential suicide. Two days before Taylor’s own attempt, a domestic cat was sent over the Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to test its strength. Contrary to rumors at the time, the cat survived the plunge unharmed and later was posed with Taylor in photographs.

On October 24, 1901, her 63rd birthday, the barrel was put over the side of a rowboat, and Taylor climbed in, along with her lucky heart-shaped pillow. After screwing down the lid, friends used a bicycle tire pump to compress the air in the barrel. The hole used for this was plugged with a cork, and Taylor was set adrift near the American shore, south of Goat Island.

The Niagara River currents carried the barrel toward the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, which has since been the site for all daredevil stunting at Niagara Falls. Rescuers reached her barrel shortly after the plunge. Taylor was discovered to be alive and relatively uninjured, save for a small gash on her head. The trip itself took less than twenty minutes, but it was some time before the barrel was actually opened. After the journey, Annie Taylor told the press:

If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat… I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.

She briefly earned money speaking about her experience, but was never able to build much wealth. Her manager, Frank M. Russell, decamped with her barrel, and most of her savings were used towards private detectives hired to find it. It was eventually located in Chicago, only to permanently disappear some time later.

Annie Taylor died on April 29, 1921, aged 82, at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York. She is interred in the “Stunters Section” of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

Muse in the Morning

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Art Glass 53

Actually…

Sarah Silverman and me: fact-checking US politics – the fun way

Lizz Winstead, The Guardian

Monday 22 October 2012 19.29 EDT

When I hear the apathy, and worse the snark, it always makes me feel a little sick inside. Maybe because I am one of those people who has spent the last 20 years of my life using comedy to shine a light on creeps with power.



But now the assaults on sanity have started to feel like relentless cluster bomb attacks: seems like half of my day is spent slack-jawed staring at the news, gobsmacked as unqualified kook after unqualified kook keeps getting elected spouting things like women no longer die during childbirth, or that the chunks of toxic bilge that spew from antiquated factories have nothing to do with our melting earth, or maybe the weirdest of all, that more than a few folks, some of whom sit on the US supreme court, believe a bunch of cells in a woman’s body and Walmart are people.

But when I talked to people about what affected them the most, it was not about a specific issue, rather the epidemic of how a lie gets repeated over and over again – and how the media seemed pretty lax at calling out the bull, and thus these lies were starting to become truths. Someone needed to correct the record. And who better to do that than comedians?

Live Stream: 3rd Party candidates Debate

This is the first of two debates that feature candidates for president who were shut out by the Commission on Presidential Debates. A second debate will be held on October 30.

Third-party candidates set for US debate

Representatives of the Libertarian, Green, Constitution, and Justice parties to hold presidential debate in Chicago.

Four third-party candidates, who were not invited to the presidential debates between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, are to face other in Chicago.

Tuesday’s debate is hosted by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, a group promoting a more open electoral process, and will be moderated by talk show host Larry King.

“It’s a two-party system, but not a two-party system by law,” King said. Obama and Romney were also invited, but declined to attend.

The participants include former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, former Virginia congressman Virgil Goode, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who ran against Romney in Massachusetts in 2002.

Since 1988, candidates have only been invited by the Commission on Presidential Debates to participate if polls find they have more than 15 per cent support.

So far, only one candidate has met that criterion, the billionaire Ross Perot, who debated Bill Clinton and George H W Bush in 1992.

Alternative presidential debates for third-party candidates have been held since 1996, but George Farah, author of No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates, says he “[doesn’t] remember one getting this much attention, having Larry King moderate it.”

A second third-party match-up will be held on October 30.

Up date: C-Span will broadcast the debate live starting at 9 PM EDT.

Follow debate on Twitter #thirdpartydebate

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

And these featured articles-

This special event coming up at 9 PM EDT-

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette