Friday, October 05, 2012

The evaluation no one was waiting for





Last night in Denver, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate Barack Obama debated the Republican Party's presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a corporate event that Jim Lehrer moderated.  Shut out of the debates were prominent third party candidates Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson.  Last night, during the debate, Democracy Now! expanded the debate (audio, video and text) by airing questions and the responses from Barack and Mitt and then allowing Jill Stein and the Justice Party's Rocky Anderson to respond and debate.  Barack is, of course, President of the United States.  Mitt is a former governor.  Rocky is a former mayor.  Jill is a medical doctor -- in other words, if you were in an emergency, you'd be smart to choose Dr. Jill Stein -- that might need to be a campaign button because the country isn't doing well.  Amy Goodman noted that Gary Johnson was invited to her expanded debate but had turned down the offer.  Here is a section of the expanding the debate coverage on jobs:
AMY GOODMAN: As Democracy Now! expands the debate, we put that question, "how would you create more jobs," to the Green Party's Dr. Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: Thank you, and thank you so much for expanding this debate tonight, as you so often do, Amy, here on Democracy Now! So, first just want to acknowledge the crisis is not getting better. We still very much still have a crisis in our economy. One out of two Americans are in poverty or living at a low income and heading towards poverty. About 25 million people are either jobless or working in jobs that do not pay living wages. There are millions of people who've lost their homes, approximately 8 million. There is no end in sight to the foreclosure crisis. And we have an entire generation of students who are effectively indentured servants, who are trapped in unforgiving loans and do not have the jobs to pay them back with unemployment and underemployment rate of about 50% among our young people.
So, we very much need new solutions. What we hear, really, from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are essentially a rehash of where we have been not only for the past four years, but certainly for the eight years before that. We're hearing more about deregulating business and Wall Street, as if we didn't have enough problem from that already. We're hearing more about more tax breaks for the wealthy, and we've seen tax breaks continue over the past many decades across all sectors of the tax code to where the wealthy are not paying their fair share now. We're hearing more about energy, dirty energy.
So, we are calling for a Green New Deal modeled after the New Deal that actually got us out of the Great Depression. They created approximately 4 million jobs in as little as two months. So, there is a lot that we can do if we put our mind to it. We're calling for jobs created at the level of our communities that are nationally funded and which put decisions in the hands of the community about which kinds of jobs they need both in the green economy and meeting their social needs, that would be focused and controlled locally, but funded at the national level.
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, how to create jobs?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, President Obama would like us to ignore what is happening is past four years. Granted, he came into a tough situation, but we have to consider that during the last 43 months we have had more than 8% unemployment. It is the only time in this nation's history that we have had a president that has presided even over three years of over 8% unemployment. The fact is, that those 43 months of over 8% unemployment during President Obama's term is four months more than all of the months of over 8% unemployment from 1948 until President Obama's inauguration. He talks about recovery, all the new jobs. The fact is, that in the downturn, 60% of the jobs lost were mid skill and mid paying jobs, and only 20% of the new jobs during the so-called recovery are of that category; the mid skill and mid paying jobs.
Most of the jobs are low-paying jobs, these new jobs he brags about are in retail sales and food preparation. So, there are things that have been proven in our history to work. We could have put in place, and it needs to be put in immediately, a WPA Works Progress Administration kind of program where we are investing in the future by building up our nation's rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, putting people to work. In the WPA project they 8.5 million people to work. We could be putting 20 million to 25 million people to work and making that kind of investment in our nation's future.
We need to renegotiate the outrageous free trade agreements and make sure they are fair trade so that we're not discriminating against those employers who want to hire the United States workers and also we need to get a handle on health care costs, because there are a tremendous competitive disadvantages because of the cost of health care in this country.
The same questions received real answers when the invitation list became more inclusive.  Something to remember if you watch the rest of the debates on the corporate-sponsored, corporate-owned debates on the corporate networks and the semi-corporate PBS.
What most Americans saw last night was the debate between Barack and Mitt only.  As Ava and I noted this morning, Governor Romney mopped the floor with President Obama -- the latter coming off petulant and bitchy.  As if to prove our point, Barack began making comments about Big Bird today that were, yes, petulant and bitchy. The Los Angeles Times takes a reading of  reporters and journalists (and Tom Hayden) and we'll note this from it, "Doyle McManus: Bottom line: Romney won. The question now is whether Romney can turn one good night into four good weeks."  CNN and ORC International's poll found 67% of those watching the debate said Mitt wonCindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) offers this analysis, "Blue Tie went first and went on a long rant on how his presidency has basically been a failure at this, but of course, blaiming (with some verity) the Red Tie that went before him.  However, give Blue Tie another four years with failed policies and things will get better this time, he swears on a stack of holy Federal Reserve Notes.  ("I really mean it this time, Baby").  Then Red Tie talked a lot about "middle income" people. Both Ties talked a lot about the "Middle Class."  Well, the term "Middle Class" is a ruling class diversion from the fact that the USA has the widest (and growing wider) income disparity in the so-called industrial world.  That's an inconvenient fact that the Scoundrels
don't want us to know, now isn't it?"
Let's note some other reactions to Barack's performance last night.  Doug Henwood (Left Business Observer) shares:
First, Obama's personality. In an earlier life, I spent a lot of time studying the psychoanalytic literature on narcissism. It was all part of a study of canonical American poetry, where I thought that the imperial grandiosity of the American imaginary could be illuminated by examining its underlying narcissism. But all that is by way of saying I'm not using this term recklessly. I think there's a lot of the narcissist about Obama. There's something chilly and empty about him. Unlike Bill Clinton, he doesn't revel in human company. It makes him uncomfortable. He wants the rich and powerful to love him, but doesn't care about the masses (unless they're a remote but adoring crowd). Many people seem to bore him. It shows.
That's a text link, but if you'd like to hear Doug in audio form, he continues to host Behind The News which now broadcasts Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time on KPFA (click here for KPFA archive  and here for the LBO archive -- which doesn't have the full show yet but will in a few days). Susan (On the Edge) also notes Henwood and she shares this opinion of Barack's performance, "In my view, his performance last night is a reflection of how he deals with Republicans in Washington. He doesn't really fight when attacked; he folds like a lawn chair. The reason he does that isn't so much to appease them than it is he truly is one of them."  Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch) add, "It was clear Obama, ill-prepared and perhaps on a sedative himself, was not expecting much in the way of competition.  Typically reserved and aloof in front of the bright lights and big cameras, Obama was cool to the point of frigidity.  Lost without his teleprompter, Obama stumbled over his talking points on numerous occasions."  At The Confluence, Riverdaughter notes:
The left blogosphere is all atwitter today and heading for the fainting couch because Mitt kicked Obama's ass last night. Did this meme come from the campaign-blogger meeting this morning?   I'm guessing the last thing Obama's campaign wants is for blue collar women to show up at the polls.  I mean, isn't what all of those "Romney is a bad dude who doesn't care about you" exercises have been about all summer and into the fall?  The Obama campaign seems fairly desperate to suppress the blue collar womens' vote because those women want nothing more than…
… for someone to kick the s[**]t out of Obama.
And last night gave them hope.
That's what it's all about, isn't it?  Those lady voters, and by this, oh best beloveds, he means the former Clintonistas who were royally screwed by Obama last time, they're too genteel for all the aggressive behavior that Mitt displayed last night?  Oh, my, I think they might have the vapors. They're delicate, fragile flowers and unfit for such improprieties.  It's not decent!  We shall whip them into a frenzy of condemnation.  We shall use their more civilized nature to reign Romney in.  He won't be allowed to do that next time, nosiree.
A discussion of the debate took place on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR -- link is audio and transcript) with Diane and her guests USA Today's Susan Page,  Washington Post's E.J. Dionne and National Review's Ramesh PonnuruAndrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC -- link is video) has a discussion of the debate with Tad Devine and John Feehery.  It would be really great if MSNBC could treat Andrea's show like a real one -- it is their strongest program -- she also had a segment with Ruth Marcus among others but lots of luck finding the video of that.  For debate coverage in the community, refer to posts by Mike, Elaine, Marcia, Ruth, Betty, Stan and Cedric and Wally.
Last night's debate was about domestic issues. 
Domestic issues include jobs.  Domestic issues include national laws. 
Was Jim Lehrer aware that the White House is in violation of the law -- violation of the law and practice that's been in place since 1941?  Was Lehrer aware that the White House has allowed the US military to fill their orders with Chinese goods?
Yesterday the US House Veterans Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a joint-hearing.  Appearing before the Committees was the American Legion -- chiefly National Commander James Koutz.  In addition to yesterday's snapshot, Ava covered it at Trina's site with "The VA never solves a problem,"  Wally covered it with "Today's veterans' hearing" at Rebecca's site and Kat explored it with "House-Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing."  Wally's report included:
An issue that some may see as minor was brought up by US House Rep Michael Michaud.  I don't see it as minor.
He reminded everyone of how there was uproar in the summer over the fact that the American athletes at the Olympics were wearing outfits that Americans didn't make.
Did you know our army wears uniforms that are not 100% American made?
And that brings us back to yesterday's hearing and we'll pick up with Michaud.
US House Rep Mike Michaud:  When you talk about uniforms made in the USA, I read an article -- I left you a copy, I know you haven't had a chance to read it yet -- but I'm not the only person who's upset with what's happening with our military today. I was reading an article in the Air Force Times [by Jeff Schogol] where it says "Master sgt. says no to Chinese-made boots." He was issued a pair of Chinese-made boots. He made a stink about it. He ultimately did get American made boots. He was sent to Afghanistan. And over in Afghanistan, he was given a uniform -- the Army Operation Enduring Freedom camouflage uniform -- he asked for a pair of required boots, the tan boots. Well guess what? He was issued a pair of Chinese-made boots once again. In the article, you will see where the Master Sgt at the end, and I would like to quote it, what the Master Sgt said. And I quote, "This is about patriotism. This is about the Berry Amendment set forth over 60 years ago. This is about American soldiers wearing our country's uniform made by Americans." And I couldn't agree more with the Master Sgt. At a time when our nation is divided and the discourse in Washington, DC is extremely negative, it seems to me that with the outrage of our athletes wearing Chinese-made uniforms [at the summer Olympics] that this is one issue that we can all agree on. Even both candidates who are running for president of the United States are criticizing one another about not being tough on China and both campaigns are talking about making sure more things are stamped with "Made in the USA." Well there's a way we can get tough on China, increase things Made in the USA and to make sure that our American soldiers are not treated as second class citizens, that they have the best. That's what they're fighting for, this country, United States of America. And I find it extremely concerning because this issue is not an issue that needs Congress to act. It's not an issue that we need a regulatory agency to address. It's an issue that's already the law. So my question to you is: What is the American Legion's position? Do you believe that our soldiers who are putting their lives on the line each and every day for us, should they be wearing clothing made in the United States of America?
James Koutz: The answer is yes. The American Legion believes that [stops for applause to die down]. I'm sure the American Legion and the American people believe that all equipment should be made in the United States of America. And there you go again, talking about jobs. Put the Americans to work making boots. That'll provide jobs here at home.
US House Rep Mike Michaud: Well I want to thank you very much, National Commander, and just for the record, I know Congressman Duncan Hunter who is a Republican colleague from California, he and I are writing a letter, we encourage our colleagues to sign that letter, to the administration, requiring them to comply with the intent of the law and it's unfortunate that we have to do that. And hopefully, we'll see some changes in that regard.
When the discussion is jobs and when you're speaking to the Commander-in-Chief of the military and when the military is in violation of the Berry Amendment and Congress is calling that out, you probably need to bring that up in the debate.  Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) reports on how veterans and veterans groups feel they were ignored in the debate last night.
Today, there have been attempts to spin the debate.  Matthew Boyle of the right-wing Daily Caller reports:
After President Barack Obama stumbled his way to a loss in the first presidential debate on Wednesday night, Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse took to MSNBC to try to spin criticism back in the direction of Mitt Romney with what appeared to be a fabricated claim.
"He wants to go back to war in Iraq," Woodhouse said of Romney during a Thursday morning appearance on MSNBC.
In response, Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Daily Caller that Woodhouse's statement wasn't true.
The Daily Caller remains a right-wing organ and not a news outlet.  It does that, in part, because it's to busy churning out quick 'posts' to do journalism.
If I were a reporter covering a false charge that a candidate supposedly wanted the US military to go back into Iraq, I think it would be incumbent upon me to mention that the one making the charge (that would be Barack's campaign) is actually representing the candidate who is trying to get more US military back into Iraq.
Dar Addustour reports on the US military that remains in Iraq -- with a headline of how the Pentagon refuses to withdraw them -- noting that they did not leave during the supposed full withdrawal of US forces in December 2011 and that they have instead been working with implementing security and assistng counter-terrorism forces.  The article notes that despite a lack of Congressional funding for October, the Pentagon has juggled monies to find enough funds to cover the costs through January 1st.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that the US Embassy inside the Green Zone is cloaked in mystery and that no one can tell you the number of employees -- civilian or military.  Grace points out that despite the lowering of the US flag over Baghdad in 2011 and the announcement that, after 9 years, military operations were ending, the US government, in fact, kept US troops in Iraq after the supposed withdrawl of December 2011.   An Iraqi MP on the Security and Defense Committee tells Grace that they are sure there is a much larger number os US troops in the Embassy and that the Iraqi government does not know how many US forces remain in Iraq.  An MP with Sadr's bloc says that the US military is there for logistic support but also states that the Iraqi government has no idea of the actual number of US troops on the ground in Iraq.  The article ends reminding that all US forces were supposed to leave Iraq at the end of 2011 . . . but didn't.  Last week,  Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "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."
I have no idea why The Daily Caller missed that obvious point.  As we wrap up the debate section and move into the Iraq section, a big thank you to Ann who helped track down debate commentaries worth including in this snapshot. 

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"America recoiled from Barack last night (Ava and C..."
"How many US troops remain in Iraq?"
"The VA never solves a problem"
"Barack's a joke"
"Mary Chapin Carpenter"
"Today's veterans' hearing"
"Who won?"
"House-Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing"
"Biggest loser is EJ"
"B is also for boring"
"The cowards"
"Let's all vote third party"
"Eye Candy falters"

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