We now have what appears to be the first post-Debate presidential poll. Details after the jump.The poll is an online poll commissioned by Reuters and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. It's the same outfit doing the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll. [...]
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"Voters are not allowed to know about the current backroom fix between Obama and Romney."
-- Ralph Nader, in a CounterPunch post,
"Rigging the Presidential Debates"
What I really wanted to talk about tonight had nothing to do with the debates. It would have led off with a luscious Peter Steiner New Yorker cartoon with the caption ""On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." I had this idea that I could say just one thing about The Debate and then get on to some serious funny business. Then the one thing grew to two, and the two to three, and the three things called for some additional context, and then . . . .
Sigh. Okay, let's get to it. Remember that I'm speaking as a confirmed debate non-watcher. As I predicted, though, I was unable to fend off learning way too much about what happened. Here first are the original two things I wanted to say:
(1) Willard Inc. and his handlers demonstrated that it is possible for a man to get up in front of a national TV audience and not just lie his head off but at almost every point flatly contradict things he has said just as publicly and: (a) be lying both times, and (b) have nobody in the infotainment noozemedia notice.
(2) That the president's handlers were totally unprepared for the above is either a perfect metaphor for the way this administration has functioned or else merely business as usual for it.
As we're going to see, if the debate was "fixed," it was fixed jointly by the two campaigns. Obama's people sent him out to get skunked anyway. As Charles P. Pierce puts it in a shrewd Esquire post about the presidential skunking: "The only way that the wonkish, garbled, and distracted performance by the president makes any kind of sense is if the White House has internal polls that indicate that a majority of Americans believe that Willard Romney eats live chickens in praise of Satan."
Now here's the third thing:
(3) Do we know whether moderator Jim Lehrer was acting out of compulsions invisible to the naked eye which made most of the questions suitable for a well-armed liar like Willard while also omitting from the discussion almost every subject of actual important regarding domestic affairs? I think again of that mock Republican presidential debate staged by ACN anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) on The Newsroom where Will as moderator asked real issues questions and in follow-up pressed each candidate stand-in for an actual answer.
As I pointed out, this is one of Aaron Sorkin's lovely romantic political fantasies, but he always designs those fantasies so that there's no good reason why they couldn't actually happen -- just the eternally cruddy but inescapable reason that that's the way things happen in real life. (Of course there are reasons for that.) I'm not sure much more was to be expected of Jim L, a tried-and-true Villager, and I don't imagine there was much chance of a more focused and focusing moderator being accepted by either side, let alone both sides. Still, it would be nice to know how much of the inept moderating was structural and how much was just Jim of the Village being Jim of the Village. (Actually, since writing this, I've been directed to some directly pertinent information on this subject. See below)
And here's that bit of needed context --
WITH REGARD TO WILLARD'S LIES . . .
I've always insisted that the second term of George W. (for "Who???") Bush evevntually fell apart not because the American public realized that it had been systematically lied to at every point during the Bush regime but because Americans became angry at the woeful quality of the lies they were being fed. It was, like, personally insulting to them. In line with their commitment to American exceptionalism, they had come to believe that America produces the best lies in the word -- no, in the universe -- and here they were being asked to swallow lies that wouldn't get past a slow-learning four-year-old.
And so, in accord with the gospel delivered unto them by St. Ronnie of Reagan, which told them that as Americans they're entitled to a reality that makes them feel good and never ever have to settle for any so-called reality that doesn't, they expunged the Bush regime from memory -- without, however, ever turning against either its policies or its procedures.
Similarly, the stumbling ineptitude of the Willard presidential circus to date has repelled many of those same Americans who are demanding nothing more than their a minimum standard in the lies they're asked to swallow. The danger is that if Willard's people have truly gotten their fabulizing act together, their guy is already immunized against charges of "flip-flopping," and accusations of "inconsistencies" or "contradictions" or the like will be unlikely to have any force, since that portion of the public's only question is apt to be, Does this candidate make me feel better about my reality -- or at least better than the crummy version of it we've gotten from President Obama?
JIM L MAY HAVE BEEN IN ON THE FIX, BUT IT WAS
PUT IN BY THE DEM AND GOP CAMPAIGNS THEMSELVES
On this subject Ralph Nader has an important post on CounterPunch, "Rigging the Presidential Debates," in which he takes us into the super-secret world of the secret contracts apparently written every four years by the two major-party campaigns and their "corporate offspring," the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The CPD, a colleague reminds us, was created after the League of Women Voters in 1988 withdrew from its previous sponsorship of the presidential debates, on the ground that, as league president Nancy M. Neuman explained,
the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."Whoops!
Nothing seems to motivate the mainstream campaign press into challenging the two Party duopoly, its definition of important questions, or the rancid corporate sponsorship of the debates down to the hospitality parties the corporatists hold at the debate locations in Colorado, New York and Florida this October. The reporters must like the free wine and food. . . ."This year," Nader says, "voters are not allowed to know about the current backroom fix between Obama and Romney."
Substantively, the supine press applies its own rules. Rule One is to avoid pressing questions that extend the public?s agenda beyond what the two major candidates are wrangling over. So if they don?t debate pulling back from unauthorized wars, invasions, incursions or other important foreign policy moves they are not asked. Rule Two is to ignore what major civic groups or groups with credible track records propose for the candidates to address. So Obama and Romney are not pressed by the press to expressly respond to many important issues including: what they would do on law enforcement against corporate crime, fraud and abuse, whether they favor a $10 minimum wage that catches up to 1968, inflation adjusted, for thirty million workers, or on their positions on either a Wall Street speculation tax that can raise big money or even a carbon tax.
Union organizing rights, workers? health and safety, and a variety of important consumer protections are scarcely on the press table even when their own colleagues often report on these timely subjects. . . .
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Contrary to popular belief, there were some excellent moments for President Obama in the debate. Unlike his opponent, the president actually had some factual statements to make about our current tax structure, and used Donald Trump to illustrate the fallacy of Willard's concern trolling over small business:
?Under Governor Romney's definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. Donald Trump is a small business. Now, I know Donald Trump doesn't like to think of himself as small anything, but -- but that's how you define small businesses if you're getting business income.?
Oh, the possibilities. But of course, the president is absolutely right. Just like Koch Industries is a small business. Lots of Mitt Romney's shell companies, even those in the Cayman Islands, are "small businesses."
I actually thought this was a good moment for the president, even though some others disagreed with me at the time, groaning that mentioning Trump would mean he'd pop up on the news cycle for another 24 hours. Hey, he'd show up whether he was mentioned or not. But I can't think of a more iconic representation of the self-absorbed nasty billionaire that resonates with the public than Donald Trump. So for me it was a winning moment.
Also, the crack about Trump not liking to think of himself as small anything was well...inviting. Imagine the snark we could raise over that remark.
Success! This debate could not have gone better. I was not able to obtain any sleep the previous evening due to the noise of this nation's tremendous freight infrastructure, but given the results I have decided to cease all further sleep until after the election.
Sadly, I was not able to last the entire debate without firing someone. I believe I made it about half of the way, which would be a substantial improvement from my practice sessions, before mentioning to the moderator unit that I would be firing him. I also mentioned that I would be firing Big Bird, who is a beloved children's character on television, and in fact his entire network.
My staff was somewhat aggravated about this afterwards, as they had made it very clear to me that I was not to make any zinged statements about firing people, and the zinged statement about Big Bird had not been cleared by them beforehand. I explained to them that Big Bird is a bird and not a people, so that I had technically stayed within the allowed parameters. While I also told the moderator that he was fired, moderators are also not people. I am beginning to think my staff is getting too fussy about these things. Also, I have never liked Big Bird. That bird has never been the right height.
Sadly, the only zinged statement I was able to use was the one about firing the irritatingly large bird. The other zinged statements I suppose I shall save for later. Other than that, I am pleased that I was successfully able to avoid mentioning any policy details (I stated that mentioning my own policy details would not be bipartisan, and that politeness required that I refrain from discussing such things until after I have become president). There was also various other things mentioned, but none of them were particularly important, and I shall leave my staff to sort them out today. They seem to believe I have contradicted a large number of our past policy assertions, but Eric F. told them that they were stupid for being concerned about such things, because that is what debates are for.
I am looking forward to the next debate. During the foreign policy one, I believe I shall fire Canada. Canada is also not a people. I would fire Mexico, but the labor there is quite cheap, and I have been thinking of outsourcing some of our companies to them.
A blog post published by Reuters reporter Myra MacDonald and on the internet today highlights a recent report from clinics at Stanford University and New York University and argues the ?anti-drone campaign? is doing damage. It has been widely circulated[...]
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News Corp. shareholders want Rupert Murdoch to step aside -- but for now, Murdoch isn't going anywhere.
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Sigh. All right, let's do this thing.
Summarizing the debate: The only memorable sound bite of the evening was that Mitt Romney had promised to fire a television bird. On policy matters, we learned absolutely nothing, and due to constant (and, truly, egregious) misstatements any non-politically-inclined person who tuned in could probably count themselves as actually less informed on the discussed issues than if they had not tuned in at all. On style both participants were one small notch above dreadful?if the Romney face budged from his trademark, grimacing smirk during the entire evening, I must have missed it, and the president often appeared to be debating as if Mitt Romney was not in the room at all. As for policy differences?the presumptive reason for having these excruciating but necessary things in the first place, unless we have now abandoned that notion, too?those were not only not in the room, they may not have even made it into the same state.
It is all right to be terse, in these debates. God help us, not every detail needs to be gone into. A few of substance would have been nice, though, and how we managed to have an entire presidential debate with less content than either candidate put into their own acceptance speeches is a bit beyond me. We did indeed manage it though, and your average viewer tuning into the evening could be forgiven for assuming that the primary message of the Mitt Romney campaign was that their polices were, in a nutshell, magical, and that the primary message of the Obama campaign was the supposition that they were not. According to the challenger, through mechanisms that were far too complex to be specified, and policies far too dull to burden the public with, certain magical things would happen, trillions of dollars would come from nowhere, all of the good policies of government (whatever those were) would be saved and all of the bad ones (whatever those were) would be nullified, and nobody need worry their pretty little heads about one stick of detail.
(Continue reading below the fold.)
By @TomBales1 I don't get to buy many books these days but I think I'm going to get this one.
Just got done reading a teaser for a book by Thomas Frank Called "Billionaires Are The Victims" in which he chronicles the Republican strategy of "victimhood". This is their ultimate fallback position, their Plan B, wherein if they can't make a cogent point in support of their position and/or are asked for any kind of corroboration of whatever outrageous claim they have been trying to make, they launch into this weird little self pity drone state wherein they whine incessantly and "sorrowfully about how this nation of moochers and looters persists in making snippy remarks about the successful". While he refers mainly to the rich themselves, those of us who don't have direct access to those types still deal with this "cult of victimhood" any time we let ourselves be conned into any kind of conversation with their lesser turdminions at any level.
I know that anyone of you who has ever attempted to engage a far right wingnut in anything resembling a meaningful debate on the issues know that without fail, issues will go out the window and it will eventually come down to them playing the victim, usually claiming that you're stifling their right dissent by refusing to give credence (or space as the case may be) to their ideas and opinions or some such folderol but until now, none of the mainstream pundits and surprisingly few bloggers have taken the time to look at this aspect of their agenda. The simple fact is that Marie Antoinette Ann Romney isn't unique in her belief that she and others like her are being victimized or persecuted by we hordes of unwashed commoners.
If you've been long time readers at They Gave Us A Republic then you might remember a couple of us quoting from various satirical posts by Jim Hightower bout how tough the filthy rich have had it during these trying times but even those, while wholly accurate, have been more in the humorous vein than attempts at serious discourse about the the fact that the victim card along with the calculated failure to observe any of the niceties and amenities of formalized or even mildly civilized debate... much like Mr. Romney failed to do last night... is an integral part of any conservative's portfolio of debate or discussion tactics and will invariably be brought out any time they feel that they are falling behind on "points" or otherwise are losing control of the proceedings. Remember Pat Nixon's cloth coat? As Mr. Frank puts it:
I admit that I was impressed at first by the unconflicted way in which these proud voices of the strong-these hymners of Darwinian struggle, of the freedom to fail, of competition to the death-advanced their war on the world by means of tearful weepy-woo. But then I started to get it: self-pity is central in the consciousness of the resurgent right. Depicting themselves as victimized in any and every situation is not merely a fun game of upside-down; it is essential to their self-understanding.
Indeed, there are few political or cultural situations in which the right doesn't instinctively reach for the mantle of the wronged, holler about bias, or protest about how unfairly they've been treated. It goes on even in the most improbable precincts. Army generals must be consoled. And former majority leaders of the House of Representatives need your sympathy.
I don't do it anymore. I refuse to allow these type of people access to my Twitter timeline and I've pretty much hidden or blocked most of those on Facebook who regularly post at worst, outright lies and at best, unsupported claims and or innuendo with little or no basis in fact mainly because at my age, life's too damned short to be playing fifth grade he said/she said games. If I'm going to engage, then I want to see facts, numbers, and links to raw data unfiltered through someone else's idea of context and the LAST damned thing I want to hear about is how mistreated and picked on you are because I had the flipping gall to challenge some bullshit statement you made on MY dime.
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I don’t follow soccer, but I attended a Houston Dynamo soccer game a few months back and took this picture of a penalty shot taking place. I looked at this picture again a few days ago and noticed that it was likely a good picture of how a penalty shot should be lined up. All [...]
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During last night?s debate, Mitt Romney said he would not make cuts that would harm education, but the Ryan budget he intends to sign into law does just that. Romney said he wouldn?t reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans, but his tax proposal does just that. No matter how many times Romney shakes his etch-a-sketch, the facts remain the same. No matter how often he tells the American people he has a plan, he still refuses to give any specifics other than killing off Big Bird. That?s not a vision for America?s future that we can afford.
Nothing in the past 24 hours has changed Romney?s vision for America. The Mitt Romney who showed up for last night?s debate: