Friday, October 12, 2012

The Post Debate Debate (Ava and C.I.)


Last night, valuable TV time was tossed aside so that the networks could present the pretense of a vice presidential debate. Moderator Martha Raddatz faced calls of bias because Barack Obama had attended her nineties wedding.  Surprisingly, the calls of bias were coming from supporters of the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ticket.  With the marriage ended in divorce -- and the ex-husband having attended Barack's wedding to Michelle solo, we would have assumed that those crying foul would have been supporters of the Barack Obama and Joe Biden ticket.  Marriages end in acrimony, that is kind of a given.

Calls for ABC's defense correspondent to step down should have been louder and near universal because it's really past time for journalists -- and we do consider Raddatz a journalist and not a TV personality -- to stop whoring their names and their profession to promote the pretense of debate.  The League of Women Voters ran the debates and did so in a non-partisan manner.  In 1980, they agreed to allow a third party candidate on the stage and the response was massive whining and pouting from the Democratic and Republican Party leaders.  So much whining and so much pouting that Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan would only have one debate.

The duopoly of the DNC and the RNC wasn't having that and today there is nothing non-partisan about the so-called debates.  Contracts are drawn up by the two parties agreeing who will not be in and agreeing what type of format it will be, what the topics will be, what the candidates are allowed to say, how they are allowed to interact, etc.

Last week, we were at Harvard and caught an event as fake as the debates themselves but on the panel was Alan Simpson and he was happy to explain what Democratic Party candidate Barack and Republican candidate Mitt would be asked about.  Would be.  The debates hadn't taken place yet.  They were hours away.  But because he sits on the 'debate' commission, he knew the contract drawn up for this year's so-called debates and therefore knew what would be covered.  (We addressed that panel and more in "TV: Jim Lehrer, notch below child molester."  And we keep hearing that we were the only people to report on that panel so that may be the only place it's documented that Simpson was telling people what the candidates would be asked before the debate had even started.)

The whole thing's a sham.  That's why Jim Gray (Gary Johnson's running mate on the Libertarian Party ticket), Cheri Honkala (Jill Stein's running mate on the Green Party ticket),  Jim Clymer (Virgil Goode's running mate on the Constituion Party ticket),  Luis J. Rodriguez (Rocky Anderson's running mate on the Justice Party ticket) and  Phyllis Scherrer (Jerry White's running mate on the Socialist Equality Party ticket) were not present.

Imagine how different last night's debate could have been if those people had been on the stage.  Not only would you have had diversity of race, ethnicity and gender -- which you did not have last night -- but you also would have had a huge diversity of opinion.  Grasp that Dems and Republicans are not happy with their tickets and less so each election cycle.  Why?  Because the Dem tries to play more conservative (or may be more conservative) to pick up voters and the Republicans do the same (though some liars on the left continue to try to paint Mitt Romney as a conservative devil, he is seen by Republican grass roots as too moderate).   Put more conservatives and more liberals on the stage and there's a chance that candidates would have to actually stand for party core values or risk losing their base.

Risk losing their base?  Not as long as the duopoly controls the debates and pretends like they don't.  Reality: If you can make a ticket in any state, you should be up on stage.  If your name is printed on even one state's ballot as a presidential candidate, that should be the only requirement for being invited on stage.  We elect presidents by state as a result of the electoral college.  So if one state considers the candidate 'real' enough to be on the ballot, that's all that should matter.  Once you make the ballot in one state, you should be allowed to stand on that stage and make your case.

If we lived in a real democracy, that might happen.  But we live in a corporatocracy with light democratic plating -- it easily flakes off and more and more are starting to notice just how undemocratic it really is.  We say scrape it all off, reveal the truth.

And that's why we call out Jim Lehrer and Martha Raddatz and every other TV personality or journalist who takes part in the phony theatrics that trick the American people into believing they are seeing an actual debate.

This morning, we listened with open mouthed astonishment to the radio as we heard a fact check or 'fact check' on the debate.  We kept looking at one another and shaking our heads in disbelief.  "Did she just say --?"

We then went online to see if this was the way the 'fact check' was going?

We'll address how facts were bent to the point of breaking when we weigh in at Third on Sunday.

However, right now we're going to make one big point: Stop speaking  if you don't know what you're talking about.

We don't know if you're lying or you're just that damn stupid.

But stop it.  Right now.

Click here for video of a USA Today 'fact check.'

Someone probably thinks that's a great fact check.

Those people -- hopefully a small number -- are grossly ignorant.

Thursday's "Iraq snapshot," Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot" and "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing" is our coverage thus far of Wednesday's House Oversight Committee hearing on what happened in Benghazi.  We attended that hearing and we reported on it.  (In this community, also attending were Kat -- see her  "What we learned at today's hearing"  and  Wally  -- see his  "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment.")

We were at the hearing.  Listening to the USA Today 'fact check' and others far worse (NPR, we'll take you on Sunday), we were stunned.

Do they just make stuff up?

The White House, fact checkers want you to know, had no way of knowing for days what happened in Benghazi.  USA Today even wants you to believe there was a protest.

First, there was no protest.

All of this was covered at length by the State Dept witnesses appearing before the Committee Wednesday.

But wrap your mind around this one:  Remember when the White House watched the attack on Osama bin Laden?

They also had cameras monitoring the Benghazi Consulate.  The attack was seen in real time.  The video was distributed throughout the administration.

This is a basic chronology as presented in the hearing: Ambassador Chris Stevens had been visiting with a friend from Turkey.  Ambassador Stevens walked him out.  Ambassador Stevens was on the street.  There were no protesters.  There was no one visible.  Within an hour, still no protesters, the Consulate comes under attack.

There was never a protest.

So-called 'fact checkers' better grasp that.  They also better grasp that the excuses they're making up for the White House don't play.

Real-time video was monitored in real-time.  In addition, the video was distributed throughout the administration.

We heard a liar -- who shouldn't have even been weighing in due to ethical conflicts -- cherry pick from the hearing.

The damn liar didn't know what the hell she was talking about and she also wasn't at the hearing.  So maybe don't bring idiots on to do fact checks?

But the lying idiot wanted you to know that the security witness -- there were two actually -- insisted it wouldn't have made a difference if more had been present.

Really?  Is that what was said?

Here's one exchange:

US House Rep Dennis Ross:  And do you have any reason to believe that if you had to go up your chain of command at AFRICOM for a request from the State Dept that they extend the tour of duty of an SST, that your chain of command would not grant that?

Lt Col Andrew Wood: Absolutely Gen [Carter F.] Ham was fully supportive of extending the SST as long as they felt they needed them.

US House Rep Dennis Ross:  So the resources were available for the SST?

Lt Col Andrew Wood:  Absolutely.

US House Rep Dennis Ross:  And had they been there, they would have made a difference, would they not?

Lt Col Andrew Wood: They made a difference every day they were there, when I was there, sir.  They were a deterrent effect.

So stop cherry picking your statements.  Stop pretending there was only one witness.  And if you dare -- as a lying hack did today -- insist that a 'few' more wouldn't have made a difference you damn well better know what was said in the hearing about the numbers and how those making requests already knew that even five would be turned down.

In other words, there's a hell of a lot of whoring going on.

We're not getting paid for this.  But news outlets do.  So why can't they do the damn job they're paid to?  Why the hell weren't they at the Wednesday hearing?  Why the hell couldn't they cover what took place accurately?

Those are questions the news media should be answering today before they try to 'fact check' a damn thing.

The 'debates' are a joke.  Even more of a joke is the 'fact checking' going on.  (Including lies about Iraq that'll be addressed in the snapshot today.)  Is the news media trying to convey that they are as phony as the 'debates'?  If so, great going.

If not, they might want to try reporting accurately on Wednesday's hearing.  One thing the networks fled from was US House Rep Dennis Kucinich establishing that after the war on Libya, al Qaeda is more established in Libya and that dangerous weapons are now unleashed on the black market after the Libyan War.  

US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Mr. Kennedy has testified today that US interests and values are at stake in Libya and that the US is better off because we went to Benghazi.  Really?  You think that after ten years in Iraq and eleven years in Afghanistan that our country, the US would have learned the consequences and limits of interventionism.  You would think that after trillions have been wasted on failed attempts at democracy building abroad while our infrastructure crumbles at home, Congress and the administration would re-examine priorities.  Today we're engaging in a discussion about the security failures of Benghazi.  There was a security failure.  Four Americans including our ambassador, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.  Their deaths are a national tragedy.  My sympathy is with the families of those who were killed.  There has to be accountability.  I haven't heard that yet.  We have an obligation to protect those who protect us.  That's why this Congress needs to ask questions. The security situation did not happen overnight because of a decision made by someone at the State Dept.  We could talk about hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts for funding for embassy security over the last two years as a result of a blind pursuit of fiscal austerity.  We could talk about whether it's prudent to rely so heavily on security contractors rather than our own military or State Dept personnel.  We could do a he-said-she-said about whether the State Dept should have beefed up security at the embassy in Benghazi.  But we owe it to the diplomatic corps who serves our nation to start at the beginning and that's what I shall do.  The security threats in Libya including the unchecked extremist groups who are armed to the teeth exist because our nation spurred on a civil war destroying the security and stability of Libya. And, you know, no one defends Gaddafi.  Libya was not in a meltdown before the war.  In 2003, Gaddafi reconciled with the community of nations by giving up his pursuit of nuclear weapons. At the time, President Bush said Gaddafi's actions made our country and our world safer. Now during the Arab Spring, uprisings across the Middle East occurred and Gaddafi made ludicrous threats against Benghazi.  Based on his verbal threats, we intervented.  Absent constitutional authority, I might add. We bombed Libya, we destroyed their army, we obliterated their police stations.  Lacking any civil authority, armed brigades control security.  al Qaeda expanded its presence.  Weapons are everywhere.  Thousands of shoulder-to-air missiles are on the loose.  Our military intervention led to greater instability in Libya. Many of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, made that argument to try to stop the war.  It's not surprising given the inflated threat and the grandiose expectations inherent in our nation building in Libya that the State Dept was not able to adequately protect our diplomats from this predicatable threat.  It's not surprising.  And it's also not acceptable. It's easy to blame someone else -- like a civil servant at the State Dept. We all know the game. It's harder to acknowledge that decades of American foreign policy have directly contributed to regional instability and the rise of armed militias around the world.  It's even harder to acknowledge Congress' role in the failure to stop the war in Libya, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Pakistan, the war in Yemen, the war in Somolia and who knows where else?  It's harder to recognize Congress' role in the failure to stop the drone attacks that are still killing innocent civilians and strengthening radical elements abroad.  We want to stop the attacks on our embassies?  Let's stop trying to overthrow governments.  This should not be a partisan issue.  Let's avoid the hype. Let's look at the real situation here. Interventions do not make us safer. They do not protect our nation.  They are themselves a threat to America.  Now, Mr. Kennedy, I would like to ask you, is al Qaeda more or less established in Libya since our involvement?

Patrick Kennedy: Mr. Kucinich, I will have to take that question for the record. I am not an intelligence expert.

US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: Oh.  You don't have the intelligence, you're saying?  Well I'm going to go on to the next question --

Committee Chair Darrell Issa: Mr. Kucinich, I think the other two may have an opinion.

US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Well I wanted to ask Mr. Kennedy.  Next question, Ambassador Kennedy, how many shoulder-to-air missiles that are capable of shooting down civilian passenger airlines are still missing in Libya?   And this happened since our intervention.  Can you answer that question?

Patrick Kennedy: No, sir. I'll be glad to provide it for the record.

US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: You're saying you do not know?

Patrick Kennedy: I do not know, sir. It's not within my normal purview of operations with the State Dept.

US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Does anyone else here know how many shoulder-to-air missiles that can shoot down civilian airliners are still loose in Libya?  Anyone know?

Eric Nordstrom:  The figures that we were provided are fluid but the rough approximation is between ten and twenty thousand.

Committee Chair Darrell Issa:   The gentleman's time has expired.  Did you want them to answer anything about al Qaeda growth?

US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  If anyone there knows.
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  If anyone has an answer on that one, they can answer and then we'll go on.

US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:   Yeah, is al Qaeda more or less established in Libya since our involvement?
Lt Col Andrew Wood:  Yes, sir.  There presence grows everday. They are certainly more established than we are.

Ourselves, we would -- like Dennis -- argue these things happened because of the war on Libya.  But regardless, it was established by the witnesses that, after the war on Libya, these are realities on the ground.

That's pretty important news.  And this being a presidential election cycle, you'd think the news industry would be especially interested in outcomes from Barack's war.  But apparently,  if it's not reported by them, it never happened.



1) We would love to see Cindy Sheehan on the stage at a v.p. debate and if it was a real debate she might have been there representing the Peace and Freedom Party despite the fact that she announced she wanted off the ticket.  Because of that announcement we did not note her in the above.  No insult or snub was intended to Cindy who was the only one actively working to promote the Peace and Freedom Party's presidential ticket.  And Cindy on stage at last night's debate might have changed the outcome of the entire election.  (You can be sure the duopoly feared just that.)

2) You'd be amused -- like Joe and Paul in the screen snap -- if you were in on the con.

3) For those needing a critique from us of the debate performance, we would have told Joe, "Take it into the chest voice."  

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