Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The only thing worse than the debate itself (Ava and C.I.)

Last night, Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama (also the current US President) and Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney met up in Boca Raton for a supposed debate that left many nodding off.


If only the candidates had just put themselves to sleep.

Sadly, they seemed to have put large numbers of the viewing public to sleep as well -- those viewers not smart enough to watch the baseball game on Fox or Gossip Girl on the CW.  But, as one friend who writes for an NBC comedy (that's how it's billed, "comedy") told us Sunday, "After last week, it's going to be a disappointment.  Anything short of Jabba The Hut returning to declare 'He did say that, Governor Romney' while Obama wore Princess Leia's gold bikini will be a disappointment."

It did disappoint.

Some argued on BBC and NPR last night that it disappointed because there was too much agreement -- a difference only in tone, NPR's Mara Liasson seemed to believe, for example.

We'd argue it disappointed because how many times can you see a grown man act bitchy?  Tired bitchy at that.

 "And the 1980s are now calling," Barack said sure he had a soundbyte, "to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years."

Can someone get Spock a humor transplant?  How about explaining to him that explaining the 'funny' tanks the 'funny.'

"Ring, ring.  Governor Romney, it's for you, the 1980s want their foreign policy back."  Keep it short, you get in, you grab the laugh, you get out.

Poor Barack, it's not for lack of trying that he hasn't mastered bitchy.

He was also the first one to try to interrupt when the other had the floor. Barack was also the first to steer widely off topic.  The debate was supposed to be about foreign policy.  At one point, Mitt was talking about 9-11, terrorism, Israel, the Green Revolution and Iran and moderator Bob Schieffer went to Barack for a response and Barack started yammering away about "we're bringing manufacturing back to our shores" and oil imports.  The question -- for those who, like Barack,  missed it -- was "what is America's role in the world?"

Barack wasn't done.  He wanted to talk about small business and teachers -- math and science teachers -- leading Schieffer to interject, "Let me get back to foreign policy."  Indeed.

Barack loved to try to cut off Romney and loved to holler liar.  But that didn't stop him from telling lies of his own.

Such as when he declared, "First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. It's something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen."  Sequestration won't happen?

That'll be news to Congress and to outlets like NPR that have been discussing the 'fiscal cliff' that awaits Congress in the lame duck session after the elections when they have until January 1st to come up with a budget or automatic cuts kick in.  (By the way, we're using NPR's transcript.  In one of our debate pieces, we used CNN and noted that CNN didn't make you flip through pages but laid the entire transcript out on one page.  This lead to an NPR on air insisting to us they did the same.  Thank you for informing us of that.  The link to the NPR transcript is here and it also has an audio option.)

As for he didn't propose it?  More word games from a lawyer.  Congress passes legislation. 

But Joe Biden worked to pass it in the Senate, Joe Biden personally called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and, based on their long bi-partisan relationship, won McConnell's support for it.  We didn't realize Joe was going rogue when he did that.

Oh, and look, here's a White House "slideshow" entitled "Debt and Deficit Negotiations" -- there's Barack with Speaker of the House John Boehner July 3, 2011.


If we click our Viewmasters,   "President Barack Obama talks with members of his staff in the Oval Office following a meeting with the Congressional leadership, July 7, 2011. Pictured with the President, from left, are: Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to the Vice President; National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; Jason Furman, Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew; Senior Advisor David Plouffe; and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)."  Hey, everybody, let's click to number three, "President Barack Obama prepares for his meeting to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction with Congressional Leadership during a briefing in the Oval Office, July 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)."

20 photos, July through August 2nd, detailing Barack's meetings with Congress to get sequestration passed (Budget Control Act of 2011).

But understand, it wasn't him, it was Congress.  The lies just never end.

At one point, the issue of terrorism was raised and how it could be addressed:

A group of Arab scholars came together, organized by the U.N., to look at how we can help the -- the world reject these -- these terrorists. And the answer they came up was this.One, more economic development. We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment and that of our friends -- we should coordinate it to make sure that we -- we push back and give them more economic development.
Number two, better education.
Number three, gender equality.
Number four, the rule of law. We have to help these nations create civil societies.

If you think that sounds pretty sensible and are glad someone noted the United Nations, you may be surprised to learn we're quoting Mitt.  That's Mitt, not Barack.

It couldn't be Barack.  Step three alone ensures it couldn't be Barack.

Look at Libya where gender equality wasn't an issue for the White House.  Look at Iraq where the White House, under Barack, has done even more to undermine women's rights.  Most recently? Embracing and praising the Electoral Commission members.  There are nine members.  Three are supposed to be women.  Only one is.  But don't expect the administration to object.  The puppet court stood up and said that a third had to be women and even then the administration was fine and dandy with the violation.  A female member of Iraqiya noted women are being stripped of their rights and not a peep from the White House.

Iraq was all over the debate even when it wasn't mentioned.

And we go to the CNN transcript:

ROMNEY: Number two, with regards to Iraq, you and I agreed I believe that there should be a status of forces agreement. (CROSSTALK)
ROMNEY: Oh you didn't? You didn't want a status of...
OBAMA: What I would not have had done was left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down. And that certainly would not help us in the Middle East.
ROMNEY: I'm sorry, you actually - there was a - there was an effort on the part of the president to have a status of forces agreement, and I concurred in that, and said that we should have some number of troops that stayed on. That was something I concurred with...
OBAMA: Governor...
ROMNEY: ...that your posture. That was my posture as well. You thought it should have been 5,000 troops...
OBAMA: Governor?
ROMNEY: ... I thought there should have been more troops, but you know what? The answer was we got...
ROMNEY: ... no troops through whatsoever.
OBAMA: This was just a few weeks ago that you indicated that we should still have troops in Iraq.
ROMNEY: No, I...
ROMNEY: ...I'm sorry that's a...
OBAMA: You - you...
ROMNEY: ...that's a - I indicated...

And that was Iraq.  Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) underscores the dupliticy of the exchange,  "Romney’s right -- Obama did try to get a status of forces agreement, but could not get an agreement with the government of Iraq. So now he stresses the fact that he has removed all troops from Iraq, while knocking Romney for supporting what he originally had hoped to achieve."

It was hilarious to hear Barack talk about "a few weeks ago."  Almost as hilarious as it was to read the 'fact checkers.'

Let's start with the USA Today -- Tim Mullaney, Gregory Korte, Tom Vanden Brook, Paul Davidson and Alan Gomez:

Claim: Obama said Romney wanted to leave troops in Iraq after Dec. 31, 2011, a claim Romney denied.
The facts: When the U.S. government was trying to secure a status of forces agreement last year with the Iraqi government that would have allowed some U.S. troops to remain in the country, Romney said more U.S. troops should remain than Obama was proposing.
Romney repeated that sentiment in a video leaked to Mother Jones from a May fundraiser. Romney said: "This president's failure to put in place a status of forces agreement allowing ten to 20,000 troops to stay in Iraq: unthinkable." But there is no record that Romney made the claim as recently as "a few weeks ago."

In the meantime, in the real world,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

That directly relates, USA Today, to the fact check you're supposed to be conducting.  You're ignorant and you're not alone.  CNN concludes their Iraq fact check with "Each man's attacks are rooted in fact. The Obama administration did attempt, unsuccessfully, to extend the presence of a scaled-back U.S. training mission in Iraq, while Romney has said Washington should have kept a considerably larger force in Baghdad."  D-d-did they, CNN?  Did the Obama administration attempt, unsuccessfully, to extend the presence of a scaled-back U.S. training mission in Iraq?  And, more importantly, are they still trying?

Yes, they are.  But don't expect CNN to tell you about that.  And don't expect Andrea Mitchell and NBC's Truth Squad to tell you the truth either.  Like CNN, they find both were accurate, "The president was referring to an Oct. 8, 2012, speech that Romney gave criticizing the 'abrupt' withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq, but the Republican didn’t explicitly say the U.S. should have more troops there. Romney is right that the administration tried and failed to get an agreement that would have allowed a small force of U.S. troops to remain for several years."  But is it accurate to ignore that the White House continues to pursue negotiations on sending US troops back into Iraq?  No, it isn't.

Or anyone else.  Shashank Bengali (Los Angeles Times) does a better job than many, noting the attempt by Barack to extend US troops beyond 2011: "But the negotiations fell apart over Iraq’s unwillingness to grant U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution. The last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in December."  That last sentence is where Bengali is lost.  US troops remain in Iraq -- to guard the diplomatic staff, as 'trainers,' Special-Ops and -- as the Iraqi press has been reporting for weeks now -- searching planes coming through Baghdad International on their way to Syria and on the Syrian border.

Susan Cornwell and Lucy Shackelford (Reuters) also fail the fact check:  "The last U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq last December, ending a war launched in March 2003. At the height of the war, there were more than 170,000 U.S. troops there. Last year Obama did try to negotiate an agreement with Iraq that would have kept some U.S. forces in the country as trainers, but the two governments failed to reach an agreement over giving American soldiers legal immunity."

Not only do the two forget that negotiations are ongoing, not only do they forget that US troops are still there but we believe Susan Cornewell was present a few months back at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing when the over 15,000 US troops that were moved to Kuwait from Iraq so that they would be right on the border, ready to go back in, were discussed.  We believe Susan sat to our right.  Maybe we're remembering wrong.

John Glaser (Antiwar.com) falls into the camp of noting that Barack tried -- past tense -- to get an agreement.  John misses the fact that the negotiations continue.

All the people above -- even USA Today -- can take comfort in the fact that they're not the idiot Jason Linkins who apparently never knew that the administration tried to negotiate an extension.  Jason's an idiot so he 'reports' at Huffington Post.  As Peter Feaver (Foreign Policy) noted yesterday:

According to Michael Gordon: "Mr. Biden also predicted that the Americans could work out a deal with a government led by Mr. Maliki. 'Maliki wants us to stick around because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise,' Mr. Biden said. 'I'll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA' he added, referring to the Status of Forces Agreement the Obama administration hoped to negotiate." 

They wanted it and they still do.  Hey, where's Brett McGurk?

Any member of the press want to answer that one?

We do realize Brett did the work around in 2008 when it came to the immunity issue, right?  We all know that?  On the left, we guess we don't since so many of the left pimped for Brett even after the sex and journalism scandal (don't sleep with sources and don't let your lover vet your copy).

So where's Brett right now?

Another question: Where's the New York Times' fact check?  Right here.  And everyone above can feel superior to the so-called paper of record.  We knew the circulation had dipped again but who knew that this was true even among the paper's reporters?  Apparently, Michael Luo, Michael Cooper, Michael D. Shear, Richard A. Oppel Jr, Jeff Zeleny and the others doing the fact check, not one of them actually reads their own paper.

Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th:
Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

That was actual reporting.  And yet his own peers at the paper are unaware of it.

If the debate -- the "dull-bate" a stand up on the phone just called it -- last night was bad, the only thing worse has been the 'fact checking.' 

 Notes:  1) We switch to CNN for the transcript!  Huh?  Yeah.  NPR has problems with theirs.  If you're an NPR friend, call us and we'll explain the problems with your transcript which go to what was said as well as the presentation of the transcript.  We promised to link to the NPR transcript and did.  But if we'd seen it before we promsied, we wouldn't have.

2) The final debate is actually tonight.  Does that confuse you?  Then read Kimberly Wilder's "Tonight! Tues Oct 23rd: Another (better) debate!" (On The Wilder Side).  Participating are:

Jill Stein, Green Party
Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party
Virgil Goode, Constitution Party
Rocky Anderson, Justice Party

And Larry King's moderating.  With Larry moderating, it should be worth watching just for that.  (That's not an insult.  We like Larry.)

3) Bob's performance?  We have no quarrel with it except we wish journalsits would stop participating in the duopoly debates.  Their image makes it appear these are real debates and fair.  They aren't.  They are the result of a contract hammered out to nail down what can be asked and who can participate.  Of the four duopoly debates, we feel three moderators conducted themselves well and then there was Jabba last week.  Contrary to Candy Crowley's false claims that she's only being criticized by Mitt supporters, we're not Mitt supporters.  Nor have we gone out of our way to slam the performance of any other moderator.

4) We're not voting for Mitt.  We're not for Barack.  We're not voting for president.  We'll vote in the other races but no one earned our vote this election cycle.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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