As in, the presidential debates were more of the same. My blog remains a shining beacon of creative brilliance, unique and innovative in every conceivable way. As such, I’m going to criticise the debates for issues that haven’t been brought up in the various articles/news items I’ve seen so far. Lots of them are obvious, and I invite you to read a fact-checker and see Romney’s position-changes to see just how centrist he’s suddenly decided he’s become. This blog will be somewhat disparate, then, as it struggles to remain original and relevant.
Gosh, Darn, Aw Heck
Of the many things wrong with the debates, the first, rather innocuously, was Romney’s grammar. He said, “You got more and more debt on your back, so more debt and less jobs.” Whilst this doesn’t really make sense as a sentence when directed at the individual questioner, let’s assume he’s talking to graduates in general.
“You’ve got more and more debt on your back, so more debt and fewer jobs.”
JOBS ARE A DISCRETE ITEM, FUCKER
You can have ‘less fun’, ‘less wealth, even ‘less bullshit’. But not ‘less jobs’.
All good arts and humanities undergrads will know how vital it is to define your terms, at least somewhat, before you start discussing them in terms that will have huge impact on the world’s population. For several key terms, neither candidate did this, until midway through the last debate when Obama obliquely mentioned that Mitt’s idea of ‘Small Business’ seemed to include virtually all firms, including Bain Capital. This was probably a straw-man, but not so inaccurate as to be devoid of merit.
The two most problematic terms were ‘the middle class’ and ‘small businesses’.
There’s an implicit disparity between what the teams mean when discussing either. A standard assumption is that ‘middle class’ means ‘not receiving welfare AND not paying the top income-tax rate’. This would actually produce rather few people, and far fewer than Americans who self-identify as MC. We could certainly assume this was Romney’s definition after the ‘47%’ gaffe, but he’s reversed his position on that, along with pretty much everything else. Obama implicitly includes many receiving benefits in his idea of MC, since he talks about MC veterans, MC graduates receiving help with uni fees, MC families enjoying tax credits and cheaper health insurance. So where’s his cutoff point?
The candidates aren’t the only culprits, of course. Media both sides of the channel talk very vaguely about The Middle Class in the vaguest ways imaginable.
This article delves further, examining Mitt’s claim to ‘cut taxes to middle-income earners’. Alternatively, this one provides a Marxist explanation in terms of income quintiles and how various Departments treat ‘poverty’. In the meantime, perhaps we should dwell on the extraordinary inability of either party to address the needs of other classes? Obama is sometimes lambasted for being a socialist or a class/race demagogue, but he doesn’t exactly appeal to the passions of the proletariat, now does he? The inability of either candidate to openly address the needs of the least fortunate in America is damning – the assumption being that the Democrats basically have their vote in swing states, but to call for it in anything stronger than vague implication might scare away middle-middle-class votes (haha!) which would be a greater loss.
Small businesses are potentially even more confusing. You need under 500 employees to qualify for US Small Business Administration programs, which is ten times the size of the standard European definition, and thirty three times larger than the Australian cut-off of 15. Moreover, 18,000, or over half of those businesses classes as ‘small’ by the previous administration, had more than 500 employees.
Basically this means that when a candidate is talking about tax cuts to SBs being a nice thing, he’s referring to start-ups, family businesses, cheerful, profitable wonders. But what he really means is, ‘virtually any business that isn’t international’. Great…
Mitt has basically abandoned all the policies he had at the RNC, and even positions Paul Ryan had to defend two weeks ago. Obama summed this up nicely:
I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re taking. You know, there have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the some things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that that would make a difference.
Energy Autonomous North America
This is one of Romney’s ‘Five Point Plan’. Various fact-checkers discuss whether it’s a reasonable claim for him to have made, and I’ll leave it up to experts to explain that.
I have two questions:
1.) Why is energy independence a priori something America needs?
2.) Do the other countries in North America agree to this plan, which would pivot on their full co-operation?
1.) No. Romney talks about it as if it’s obviously good, but only talks it up in terms of creating jobs. Which is basically Keynsianism. Which is basically the Obama policy he criticises every second sentence.
Otherwise, it makes limited sense. Environmentally, it quite possibly sucks. In geopolitical terms, it’d be good for America not to be dependent on the Middle East and Venezuela for energy, given their volatility. However, 100% energy independence is likely to be considerably more expensive than importing oil, so it’ll be like a constant Middle East crisis. Bonza.
Moreover, it’ll be equally bad for the environment. Romners isn’t so green as Obama tries to be. Neither of them have made much noise about nuclear energy, which is obviously the way to go.
2.) No, so far as I can tell. It relies on pipelines from Alaska and British Columbia. It seems focused on ‘clean coal’ which is both A) a misnomer and B) not going to work.
Moreover, what’s so wrong with importing oil from Venezuela? Come on guys, Hugo Chavez is not that terrible. Not perfect, but not such an international pariah that you can’t buy black gold from him…
Women in Work
Much has been made of Romney’s “Binders full of women” gaffe. This was really surprising to me, because, although it is certainly a silly turn of phrase, it’s nowhere near as bad as what he said just afterwards –
Now, one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort, but number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I need to be able to get home at 5:00 so I can be there for — making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, fine, let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
MITT ROMNEY IS A FEMINIST HERO. HE NOT ONLY ALLOWS WOMEN TO WORK FOR HIM [100 FEMPOINTS] BUT HE ALSO ALLOWS THEM TIME OFF TO COOK, CLEAN AND MOTHER [300 POINTS]
Take that, haters!
Yeah. So. That’s quite a patronising take on women’s rights, Mitt.
Mitt also 100% failed to answer the question (how to solve the female pay gap), leaving Ms Bazzle Lagrue to label this particular policy area “The 0 point plan”.
No-one I’ve yet seen has drawn out the Republican’s contradiction in immigration. They know that ‘throw them all out’ is a vote loser, so Mitt’s adopted the moderate policy – children of illegal immigrants born in this country can become US citizens. See:
The kids of — of those that came here illegally, those kids I think should have a pathway to become a — a permanent resident of the United States.
Right, OK, that’s great. Except he also appeals to the right by assuring them:
We’re going to have to stop illegal immigration. There are 4 million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those who’ve come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who’ve come here illegally.
What I will do is I’ll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so.
I’m not sure there’s a real ‘quota’ system after which America is ‘full’, so the ‘take their place’ comment is silly.
More to the point though, he says he’s going to go after illegal immigrants’ jobs. Which, combined with his first policy, means either:
A) There will be loads of illegal immigrants on welfare.
B) There will be loads of illegal immigrants starving to death or exposed to death.
C) Adult illegal immigrants will be deported but their kids will be left to fend for themselves (or taken into foster care) until they become American Adults.
Doesn’t look so great? Romney has more.
Now let me mention one other thing, and that is, self-deportation says let it — let people make their own choice. What I was saying is, we’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented, illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead, let — make — people make their own choice.
News just in Mitt. Illegal immigrants who have undergone quite serious risks to get into your country almost certainly want to be there. They aren’t going to self-deport. Idiot.
Viz Obama, it’d make him unelectable, but I really wish he’d said, “If we help the Mexican economy and legal infrastructure in a non-invasive manner, maybe they won’t want to flee”.
Does either candidate refer to the war on drugs to explain the immigration problem?
Chris Stevens’ Death
The second debate spend about five months discussing when and whether Christ Stevens’ death was the result of ‘protest’ or ‘terrorism’ in Benghazi, and who gave the right answer (terrorism) when.
Who cares? Mitt was on firm ground attacking Obama for refusing Stevens’ security requests, and for slow action on the crisis. But this linguistic cretinparaphinaliary was more dire and boring than a back episode of Paint Drying.
Mitt makes a lot of his record as Governor there, which is great. Except most of what he
says is irrelevant.
Bipartisanship. Mitt vetoed over 100 bills.
Balancing the budget. That’s a legal requirement in Massachusetts. Also Mitt didn’t inherit the Bush deficit, which included two large wars. Hardly impressive.
Prosperity. Mitt was Governor during a boom. Not a recession.
Education. Whatever tests Mass. kids passed during Mitt’s tenure were largely helped by the massive education reform a decade before. Not by Mitt’s actions, which amount to very little.
Both of them overstate the issue here, and focus on China’s ‘cheating’. That may be a problem, but the real issue is that China has way more people willing to work for far smaller wages, so their cost of production is small, so they produce cheaper goods. Neither candidate will be able to force China to pay higher wages, so they might as well STFU.
Mitt kept talking about how Al Quaida controls over half of Mali. This is something of a fudge. In a response to a coup by junior officers in Mali’s capital, Tuareg tribesmen rebelled in North Mali and declared it an independent state, Azawad. Elements within the National Movement to Liberate Azawad are ‘Islamist’ and took over the main Northern city, Gao. These groups, The Movement For Oneness and Jihad in West Africa & Ansar Dine both explicitly broke away from Al Quaida, although they share some of their nastier ideas (imposition of sharia law, promoting violent jihad).
Both candidates are living in a fantasy world where they can arm, unite and direct the ‘good’ rebels to help over throw Assad, but keep power out of the hands of the ‘Islamists’ (presumably the Muslim Brotherhood.) I’d imagine both are more informed than this and just oversimplifying for the poor news-starved people of Ohio and Florida, who one presumes have lived with 24/7 attack ads for weeks.
Moreover, Mitt criticising ‘reliance’ on Russia or China is bonkers. Does he not understand that any boycott needs those powers’ co-operation? He seems 100% BO’s embargo on Iran, indeed wants it stronger, but doesn’t seem to get how they work. Oh, that leads onto
No big player is asking, “Is it right that we cripple Iran’s economy?”
The action is making everyday life terrible for normal Iranians, but doesn’t seem to be helping or promoting any revolution/coup/thing. Indeed, economic sanctions historically turn domestic populations against their aggressors, and in favour of the government.
By the way, what does “We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb” actually mean? As far as I can tell, all he’s saying is ‘time has passed’. Oh no! Obama failed to pause time! Lynch him.
Both were cautiously optimistic about nation building, e.g. in Egypt. Indeed, Mitt’s plan sounded so positive that it could be compared to a Middle Eastern Marshall Plan.
Except, of course, that any such action requires massive spending. The state of Iraqi and Afghan ‘nation building’ does not suggest either party is willing to invest/loan anything like the required amount of money to make any single Middle Eastern state into a western paradise.
Oh, and by the way, when you’re saying democracy is always the key, remember that you’re supporting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Monarchies who cracked down on democratic protesters. Yowzers.
Moreover, all this desire for democracy ignores a truth that Egypt has largely proven – if you give a strongly Islamic country free elections, they’ll elect an Islamic candidate!!!!
I suppose it’ll be fun to depose him too.
One ruler they’ll never consider deposing is
Segments of the third debate were essentially a contest in ‘Who loves Israel more?’ Both candidates talked with great ‘emotion’ about how much they loved Israel, and how they’d stick with Israel in war.
Which is a bit rich, given Israel’s numerous international crimes, and the fact Ben might provoke or actually invade Iran. I’m sure it’ll turn out OK.
Mitt kept saying the Reds are ‘exporting nuclear weapons’. He’s presumably referring to the leaked UN report in 2010 which did suggest they were exporting i) missiles and ii) nuclear secrets. But not ‘nuclear missiles’. Because they don’t have nuclear missiles. They tried to test a prototype last year and it crashed.
Bob Schieffer is apparently not the sharpest tool in the box. Why on earth would either even countenance ‘divorcing Pakistan’?! To show their feminist credentials, I guess…
Elephants Way Outside The Room
-The looming food crisis
– Guantanamo bay, extraordinary rendition, drone strikes
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