Torontoist asked me to discuss how Canadian libel law would work if Rob Ford wanted to sue the press over the “crack-smoking story” so that is what I did there.
Now here is that GIF of Ford trying to throw a football again!
Torontoist asked me to discuss how Canadian libel law would work if Rob Ford wanted to sue the press over the “crack-smoking story” so that is what I did there.
Now here is that GIF of Ford trying to throw a football again!
Barack Obama’s clever parenting to prevent his daughters from getting tattoos is getting press because it’s a fun story, but I think there is a reasonable argument that it also illustrates the problem with his Presidency, as follows:
The President’s plan for keeping his daughters from getting tattoos is getting “family tattoos” and showing them off on Youtube. This is obviously mortifying to any teenager – if they care about the negative consequence. Obviously the President’s daughters care, because they have been raised by loving parents, but I can think of all sorts of teenagers who would say “shyeah, whatever, Dad” and go ahead and get the tattoo anyway. Or, alternately, up the ante and play tattoo chicken by getting, say, a facial tattoo and daring their parents to try and match that when there are real social consequences to them for doing so.
In essence, the President’s strategy is predicated on his “opponents” giving a damn about the greater common good. I am sure that all readers can quickly reach the parallels inherent in this strategy with Obama’s negotiation tactics – at least during his first term – with the GOP.
Allan Gregg is confused:
If negative advertising is so effective, maybe the media and politicians should ask themselves why other big advertisers (who are far more experienced and savvy) do not employ these same tactics. Just like the electoral process, it is safe to assume that McDonald’s wants to take market share from Burger King. They also know that the quickest and most immediate way of doing this would be to launch an ad campaign that claimed their competitor’s product contained botulism. Burger King could neutralize McDonald’s advantage by countering that Big Macs are rife with e-coli. This attack and counterattack might “work” to the extent that it would affect market share but it is not employed by McDonald’s and Burger King because they know it will destroy the category and pretty soon no one would ever buy a hamburger again. In other words, they are smart enough to know that the business they are in is not just about taking market share from the other guy … it’s about making consumers believe in eating hamburgers.
So while focusing on your opponent’s weakness rather than your own virtues might lead to a short term electoral advantage, over time, it will create a cascade of political cynicism. If you say “politician A is a crook” often enough, it is only a matter of time before the public comes to believe that all politicians are crooks. That is what is happening now and these are the seeds that defenders of negative advertising are sewing.
But Allan “oh, by the way, it was me who pushed for the infamous let’s-make-fun-of-Jean-Chretien’s-palsy advertisements in the 1993 campaign which bombed horribly” Gregg is completely skipping past the point, which is that creating political cynicism is not a cost of negative advertising; it is a benefit, because reducing the amount of politically engaged citizens makes elections easier to predict and manipulate. McDonald’s doesn’t do vicious negative advertising because if they taint the process of eating a hamburger they lose money; the Tories do negative advertising because if they taint the electoral process they effectively save money, to say nothing of making it easier to gain or maintain power.
This is really staggeringly obvious.
Mike From Nowhere asks: I have my ballot for the Liberal Party election and I’m still making up my mind. Thoughts on the candidates?
And Mitchell Hundred asks: Justin Trudeau is going to become the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada (let’s be realistic here). Is this a good thing?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, because Trudeau is a smart, capable politician who nonetheless comes across as human – which many politicians do not. His “gaffe” about saying that Quebecers are better at running Canada than Albertans isn’t a big deal to anybody normal because Quebecers agree, Albertans weren’t going to vote Liberal anyway and everybody else doesn’t really care, but it reminded everybody that Trudeau is a for-real guy who occasionally says something a bit ill-advised, but everybody does that. All it did was remind people of his father (who was a famous mouth and which is a net plus for Justin). But getting back to the main point, Trudeau knows what he’s doing and will re-invigorate the Liberal party. His support for fossil fuel extraction is probably just cynical campaign noise so that he can be competitive in the west more than anything else.
No, because Trudeau has ruled out cooperation with the NDP, which (although this may only be a campaign tactic and he may change his mind once he is in power) means Trudeau has refused to deal with the central problem in Canadian politics, which is that the electoral national landscape is composed of one right-wing conservative party and three centre-left parties, which is why the fucking Tories keep winning fucking elections even though they will most likely never again get a majority of the popular vote. Until Canada’s other parties decide to engage with this fact they’re going to continue to be at a disadvantage, and it probably does not matter how smart and capable Trudeau is because if he never gets in power then who cares. Stephane Dion was ten times smarter and more capable than Trudeau is (seriously, Dion is like a friggin’ wizard) and he never got to be PM either.
For that reason and that reason alone, I would recommend voting for Joyce Murray over Trudeau, since Murray has openly campaigned for inter-party cooperation with the NDP and Greens and because she actually stands a (very small) chance at beating him. I don’t think she will, but if it takes Trudeau more than one or two ballots to win, hopefully he realizes the demand for actual, you know, victory for the left in Canada and changes his position.
Charlotte Allen: This massacre might not have happened if some manly men were working at the school rather than weak, helpless women.
Jim Daly: The massacre was horrible, but it’s Christmas!
Anthony Daniels: The problem is that people think they deserve to be happy. Also, psychology is bullshit.
Charles A. Donovan: It was all downhill from A Clockwork Orange for our culture.
David French: Trying to create policy solutions to avoid tragedies like this is pointless, because we are meant to suffer like Job.
Roger Kimball: Evil. Man, I don’t know.
Thomas Lickona: There are so many possible causes for this tragedy – like freely available guns, or the interference of demons – that we cannot truly ever know why it happened.
Emily Stimpson: Free will is part of God’s plan and Jesus loves us.
Heather MacDonald: School shootings are so rare that policy proposals may be overreactions. Therefore, we should study the problem more because we do not have enough data yet.
Father Gerald Murray: The massacre was horrible, but it’s Christmas!
Michael Pakaluk: We should all give thanks that we haven’t gone on a mass killing spree.
And my Villain for Torontoist this year is the same as it is every year. There is a longstanding theory that people learn from experience, but Rob Ford seems dedicated to demonstrating that this theory does not have to be universal.
7:01: Shockingly, Romney ahead 66/32 in Kentucky. I know, I know!
7:02: I may just start watching the Raptors/Thunder game at 8 and liveblog that instead. Or possibly both. This may get confusing if Kyle Lowry ends up dunking 51/49 over Romney in Virginia.
In John Seavey’s post from yesterday – and may I just say that everyone saying that John’s post was too lecturing or self-righteous needs to cool that crap, because believe me, had I written it, the title would have been “If You Vote For Mitt Romney, You Are Either A Tremendous Dipshit Or A Rich Bastard, And Possibly Both” – Farwell3D, in comments, writes
The problem, John, is that I cannot vote for Barack Obama with a clean conscience.
And, not to be blunt, but sentiments of this sort deserve a sad trombone noise and little else.
Voting is not a purity contest. You do not get a prize for Best Liberal by refusing to vote for Barack Obama except in your head and possibly in the head of that cute hippie you were hoping to nail over a round of pot brownies and Phish songs.1 Voting is an exercise of your franchise as a citizen, and in a first-past-the-post system that means picking from, essentially, two parties. Jill Stein is not going to be President. Gary Johnson is not going to be President. There are plenty of good explanations why third parties are futile in a first-past-the-post system so I won’t rehash them here. But your third-party vote is a waste.
(Speaking as a citizen of a country with first-past-the-post in a parliamentary setting, the big difference is that you still basically have a choice of two parties, but said parties differ on a regional basis and change from time to time. This is much less ideal than you think it is. If America had a parlimentary FPTP system it would probably have a Republican party with seats dominating the rural Midwest and South, a Democratic party dominating the coasts and Northeast, and maybe a Green party and Libertarian party with a few seats here and there, except that the Republican political strength would now be even more geographically concentrated before, which is not really a good thing – just ask Canadians about the Bloc Quebecois sometime.)
The problem with voting third-party as an American is simple: it prizes principle above result. Farwell3D’s promise to vote for Jill Stein is a good example of this: he cites Obama’s defense of the NDAA provisions as a dealbreaker. And yes, I will freely agree that Obama’s civil rights record is not good at all (to say the least). But voting for Jill Stein will not make this in any way better, and more importantly will not improve civil rights in the United States. There is zero chance of that happening. Voting for Jill Stein arguably makes it worse, because a vote for Jill Stein is, essentially, a proxy vote for Mitt Romney when the election is so close. (I don’t care if you’re in a safe Obama state – popular vote in this election is likely going to matter for rhetorical purposes at least.)
By any reasonable metric, Mitt Romney is going to be much, much worse on the issues F3D is angry at Obama about. All of them. Much worse. Here we are looking at the utilitarian argument, which is that if you withhold your vote from Obama – who is the only potential choice for President who A) can win and B) might make things less bad – you are at least declining to vote for “less bad things” and at worst proxy-voting for “more bad things.” (Which of these two is more accurate, I leave up to the philosophers. But neither is especially good.)
This, incidentally, is one of my gripes about liberalism, which is that this purity fetish is something only liberals really do. Liberals love to complain about the conservative ascendancy in America and how conservatives took everything over, but one of the reasons this happened – after conservatism got basically massacred in the 1960s – is because hard-right conservatism took a look at the system and decided it was going to work one of the parties until it bled, which is why the Party of Ike is now the party of Supply-Side Jesus and every political debate is now between reality and what some jackasses wish reality in fact was. Conservatives did this by patiently and endlessly working at the local and state levels, which is something liberals, by and large, do not do, because it’s way easier to whine about how the leader of the party doesn’t do what you want him to do rather than put yourself in a position to make him do what you want to do.2
But I digress. If the most important thing about your vote is ensuring that the American government kills the least number of people and violates the least number of civil rights – then I would argue that you have an affirmative duty to minimize the harm it can do, where you can. Voting for Jill Stein will not do this. Voting for Barack Obama will.
The 2012 presidential campaign is coming down to its last few days, for those of you who have just recovered from an eighteen-month coma and have immediately decided to check out this website (and why wouldn’t you?) And for some reason, it’s actually kind of close. Not as close as many in the mass media are making it out to be; most pundits are deliberately ignoring any information that would make the race seem like anything other than a down-to-the-wire deadlock (like, say, the existence of the Electoral College, or the unreliability of the “likely voter” screen) because let’s face it, nobody tunes in to CNN to see a bunch of guys saying, “Romney’s DOA. Wanna break down the details of House Bill No. 497?”
But it is closer than it should be. Even if the two men are not absolutely deadlocked, Romney still has a chance to win this. And if you are one of the people who this open letter is addressed to, it’s because of people like you. I don’t know if you’re undecided, apathetic, or actually planning to vote Republican, but if you’re any of these things, I have one thing to say to you: Please change your mind. Right now. Because if Mitt Romney wins, I honestly think that’s pretty much it for the United States of America.
Not, mind you, because Mitt Romney has some unrevealed policy goals that will destroy this country. I think that Mitt Romney will be a bad President, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think he’ll do anything radically different than George W. Bush. He’ll probably be a better President than Bush, in fact…mainly because it’s not actually possible to be worse…but he’ll probably be more slightly moderate because he’s not a true believer like Bush was. He’s a cynical, calculating schemer with no personal convictions, which is actually an improvement over a President who had deep personal convictions that all happened to be absolutely wrong. (The analogy I always used was, “If you had a firefighter who thought that gasoline put out fires, would you want him to be a determined firefighter who always charged in regardless of the obstacles, or would you want him to be wishy-washy about it?”)
But it’s not the hypothetical Presidency of Mitt Romney that scares me. It’s the fact of his victory that I think would spell the beginning of the end for America. Because Mitt Romney has run the first campaign in American history founded entirely on lying. That’s not to say that other candidates, or indeed other successful candidates, haven’t lied before. We all know they have. But Mitt Romney has made the conscious decision to run using nothing but lies. He has lied about himself; he has lied about his opponent. When he has been caught lying, he has either responded with a new and slightly more complex lie, or he has lied about being caught lying. Where he has avoided lying, it has been either with empty platitudes or with pleas for trust in the absence of evidence. The only time the man has ever revealed his true plans, thoughts, opinions or emotions in the entire eighteen-month campaign, it has been when he did not know he was being recorded, and it was to express his open and naked contempt for almost half the electorate. Mitt Romney is running on the platform that if you spend enough money throwing enough bullshit at the wall, sooner or later enough of it will stick to convince people to vote for you. Mitt Romney is running the first ever entirely fact-free campaign.
And if it works…if the people pushing Romney’s candidacy find out that they can actually win with this strategy, they will do it again. Mitt Romney’s next campaign, in 2016, will be nothing more than naked lies and character assassination directed against his opponent, and 2020 will see another empty suit spouting empty bullshit. And every one of these empty suits will do what the last group perfected: Loot the public treasury with both hands and funnel it into the hands of their rich benefactors. They will steal until there is no money left if they have their way, and they will never tell the truth until they learn that there are consequences for lying.
So far, this campaign hasn’t exactly done a great job of teaching them that. The media hasn’t called Romney on his lies in any meaningful sense. Obama has pointed out the existence of the lies, but there’s only so honest he can be without opening himself up to charges of character assassination. The only people left to hold Mitt Romney accountable for being a shameless, craven liar are the American voters. So please…on Tuesday, can you go out and do that? Because I guarantee you, they will lie like this until it stops helping them get elected. Or until they have stripped this country to the bones like vultures feeding on a carcass. I’m kind of assuming you don’t want that to happen.
Okay, he’s forgiven for somehow getting people to think Dr. Horrible was brilliant.
Unless he is using his mind-rays again! OH LORD WHAT IF HE IS USING HIS TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE MIND-RAYS AGAIN
8:50: The WWE put on the tag tournament finals, the CM Punk promo and the Antonio Cesaro match all in the first hour. Presumably they guessed I would be watching the debate afterwards. Kudos, WWE! Just as I tune away, you announce that Vince McMahon will show up next! THAT is when you should put Vince on the air! When I am not watching.
8:54: And I tune into Bob Scheiffer, who is probably less appealing than Vince McMahon. I forgot that this final debate featured a boring old white person as moderator. He looks like Jim Lehrer except more brittle.
9:01: Bob Schieffer, exhaling dust with each breath, explains the debate rules, and the candidates are out. Are they booing Romney? I can’t tell.
9:03: Schieffer talks about Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, because he was there. Then he talks about the McKinley asssasination, because he was there. And now, the first question, which is about Libya, and the question is phrased in terms that are, to say the least, very favourable to Mittens. Romney thanks everybody, of course, and references the Al Smith dinner because why not. Romney explains why the Arab Spring has gone terribly wrong, and even references Mali, and then talks about Iran (which has no Arabs in it, but whatever). Romney then explains that “we can’t kill our way out of this mess,” despite the fact that he is far more pro-war than Obama, but I guess that’s not killing or something now.
9:06: Obama: first priority keep Americans safe, rebuild alliances, take out Al-Qaeda. Libya: we took leadership to organize an international coalition to liberate a country for practically no money down, no interest, and Libyans marched after Benghazi in support of us. Attacks Mitt on his strategy for being “all over the map.” Romney says his strategy is to take out the bad guys and kill them, which is also not killing one’s way out of a mess I suppose otherwise Romney would’ve flip-flopped in less than two minutes. Then he talks about helping the Arab world, which because he is Mittens means BIDNESS, and also women’s rights and the rule of law, which are very important to him and of course nobody thought of promoting those things in the Middle East before. God, this is vapid.
9:10: Obama slams Romney for the Russia comments from a few months ago, which is good, then works in some attacks on Romney’s social and economic domestic policies for good measure. “Every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong.” Calls out Romney for supporting the war in Iraq, wanting it to continue, attacking nuclear treaties, not making up his mind on an Afghanistan timeline… DAMMIT OBAMA MENTION ALIENATING ENGLAND. But he wraps up by basically saying Romney is a retard on foreign policy. Romney lies and says Obama’s statements about what he’s said are not accurate, presumably because he has also said other things at some other point because, hey, whatever. Romney says Russia is just a “geopolitical foe” which is MUCH better and I’m sure Russia is all “hey, that’s cool.” Romney tries to play gotcha with a status of forces agreement on Iraq and Obama and then starts lying straight-up about wanting troops in Iraq, and his lines are TERRIBLE. Obama hammers him on it and his lines are GREAT. Says he has to support Israel, because well duh, and protect minorities in foreign countries, and his lines are SKY HIGH, higher than they have been at any point.
9:16: Syria! What will we do? Obama: We’ve worked with the international community to provide humanitarian relief, and we’ve assisted moderates inside Syria, but ultimately this is Syria’s ballgame, so we’ve let Turkey and Israel take the lead in helping the opposition. We’ve done what we can, but if we get militarily involved, we have to make sure we know what the fuck we’re doing. Romney: 30,000 dead. It’s an opportunity for us! (Good lord, Romney, you dipshit, don’t put it that way.) It’s important to get Syria going the right way, but we don’t want military involvement, so we need to work with our partners to help with the moderates in Syria. THIS IS WHAT OBAMA JUST SAID BASICALLY. Except that Romney’s lines are worse, possibly because he doesn’t seem like he knows what he’s talking about. “Assad must go!” When Romney starts attacking Obama on this his lines drop. Obama: we are playing a leadership role, we’re mobilizing support for the moderate rebels. Back to Libya: we were able to stop massacres there because of the unique circumstances there, but when it came to Gaddafi, Romney said getting rid of him was “mission creep,” and he was wrong, and that’s why Libyans mostly love us right now.
9:21: Bob asks Romney what more he would do about Syria, asking about no-fly zones. Romney says he doesn’t want to use American forces; he wants things to get better! There are so many things that could get better! We can make that happen by giving them weapons! Obama: Romney just said he doesn’t have different ideas; we’re doing what we can to promote a new moderate Syrian leadership.
9:23: Bob asks if Obama regrets interfering in Egypt. Obama doesn’t because democracy and freedom, but Egypt needs to step up to protect religious minorities and women’s rights and stick to their treaty with Israel and work against terrorism and help the kids get jobs. But this also means America has to build up its own economy so we can help them with all of that. Bob asks Romney if he would have stuck with Mubarak and Romney says no, but maybe Obama didn’t force a transition in Egypt sooner, which: what. Then Romney wants to talk about promoting freedom and peace in the Middle East, which means a strong economy and then quotes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dissing the US debt, and also the US needs to spend more money on the military, and having strong allies. Then he says the US is less strong abroad than it was four years ago, which is just a GIANT MOUNTAIN OF BULLSHIT.
9:29: Romney blathers in the next segment at length about how the economy is weak and this means America is weak, because turning the foreign policy debate into a domestic debate is the only way he wins. And then he goes back to having a strong military budget, and how Israel can’t have its feelings hurt, and then complains that the US didn’t say anything during the Green Revolution in Iran. Obama responds by saying American alliances have never been stronger – including Israel – and has repositioned America so the economy can get better and no outsourcing and better exports because this is now apparently Domestic Debate Two: Electric Boogaloo. Romney’s plan doesn’t cut the deficit and Obama’s plan will. Obama slams GWB and Cheney as Romney’s buddies. Lines are not wild about this.
9:33: Romney goes back to his Five Fingers Of Doom and cackles over opportunities in Latin America like a banana magnate. Attacks teacher’s unions for some reason. Then drops the Greece hammer, because at least I guess that’s technically foreign-ish. Obama points out that when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, small businesses were bad off because his policies were bad. Then he jumps to education policy and talks about his policies, which have created progress on scores, and he wants to hire lots of math and science teachers, then points out that Romney doesn’t think class sizes make a difference and teachers don’t help the economy. Romney demands a response on education and talks about how well students did during his tenure as Governor, because of bipartisanship and stuff. Obama points out, quite rightly, that Romney had nothing to do with this and in fact cut education spending. Romney just keeps bullshitting and gives his I’m Full Of Shit grin.
9:38: Bob wants to know where Romney will get the money for his increased military spending. Romney lies straight-up and says he’s explained how this is possible, and basically admits he’s going to cut Medicaid by turning it into block grants. His lines are awful for all of this. Obama points out that Romney’s math doesn’t work at all, YET AGAIN, because maybe this time it’ll work. Points out that the USA spends more on the military than the next ten countries combined, and he worked with the Joint Chiefs to come up with military budget cuts that would work, and also Romney is full of shit and Romney’s math is impossible. But America needs to think about military strategy, not politics: what the country needs, not just charting it by money spent. Plus, it means we get to cut the deficit.
9:42: Romney brags about how he is a BIDNESSMAN and how he didn’t lose money on the Olympics, and he balanced budgets as Governor, and he wants a big Navy, and he wants a big Air Force, and he wants America to be able to fight two wars at once, and the military budget should not be cut. Obama points out that sequestration was Congress’ idea, not his, and it just maintains the military budget. Obama: “We have less ships than in 1916: well we also have less horses and bayonets. We have these things called “aircraft carriers,” which have lots of planes on them.” Obama is just treating Romney like an idiot right now and Romney is giving him DEATH STARE.
9:45: Bob desperately wants this to be a foreign policy debate again, and asks if either candidate would say an attack on Israel is an attack on the USA. Obama says, straight-up, he will stand with Israel if they are attacked (Bob asks him again and he says it again). On Iran: as long as Obama is President, Iran will not get nukes. The sanctions are crippling their economy, their currency has plunged, their oil production is in the toilet. We will not have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and Iran will not get the chance to give terrorists nukes. Obama points out that Romney wants “premature” military action, and sending in troops is the last resort. Romney: I’ll stand with Israel too! And Iran can’t get nukes, I say that too! I called for sanctions before it was cool and Obama took too long! I would make the sanctions even tighter! I’d get Ahmadinejad tried as a war criminal! And I would not invite Iranian diplomats over for tea!
9:50: What about these rumoured talks with Iran? Obama: that’s just a newspaper story and isn’t true. But if we did have talks, we would accept them ending their nuclear program. Points out that Romney just wants to do everything they did, but louder. Points out that sanctions wouldn’t have worked without Russia and China on board, which is why it took so long to get them in place. And Iran can’t keep offering talks and then walking away. Obama is doing Tough Talk here and very credibly: one of his strengths of the professorial style is that he sounds totally badass about this.
9:53: Romney claims that Obama went on an apology tour, and Obama has a tight-lipped Oh I Am Going To Cut You Bitch smile. The lines are not great here. Romney keeps bullshitting and says that Obama is basically wimpy and Iran feels like it can do whatever it likes, and Presidents have to be STRONG LIKE BOOL. Iran needs to be pressured. Obama: “Nothing Governor Romney just said is true.” He directly calls out Romney for lying about the apology tour. Points out again that Romney was invested in a Chinese oil company, then points out that he supported the Green Revolution as much as possible by getting the world together to slap Iran around with sanctions. Romney says “we’re four years closer to a nuclear Iran,” which I suppose is technically true because at some point in the future Iran may have a nuke, but they’re not OPERATIONALLY closer. Then Romney explains his “apology tour” by getting VERY BITCHY, and Obama responds by pointing out that he went to Israel as a candidate and didn’t have a fundraiser there (OH SNAP) but instead went to the Holocaust museum and the border towns getting missiled by Hamas. Obama says that he is credible and Romney, basically, is a putz.
9:59: Bob: What if Israel calls and says “hey, we’re bombing Iran”? Romney: I don’t wanna talk about hypotheticals, because it wouldn’t happen under my watch. But four years later and Syria is a mess and we have a trade deficit with China and North Korea still exports nuke technology, and our influence is receding because the economy is bad and we’re going to cut military spending and Israel’s relationship with us is problematic. Obama: the problem is that Romney has been all over the map, and I’m glad Romney suddenly likes all of our foreign policies because you used to be opposed to them, because you’re a two-faced sneak. Well, not that last bit, but he was thinking it. Also, Romney didn’t care about killing Bin Laden and wanted to ask Pakistan for permission to kill Bin Laden, and killing Bin Laden at least gave America closure, and also tells the world that we are serious, and we can’t test decisions for polls, but I’ll do what needs to be done.
10:03: Bob wants to talk about Afghanistan. Romney complains about the debate rules again, but no dice. What if the deadline arrives and the Afghans aren’t ready? Romney: we’ll be done by 2014, I’m sure of it. Afghanistan is going smoothly and our troops can come home. Pakistan is important, and some people feel we need to walk away from Pakistan – not you, Obama! – but some people. (Wait, what?) Pakistan has nukes and the Taliban and if it falls apart, that is bad. Obama: we are in a position to leave Afghanistan, because we remembered why we were there in the first place, so we decimate Al-Qaeda’s core leadership, and now Afghans can defend their own country. We’ll pull out responsibly and it’s time to do nation-building here at home rather than spending that money on foreign countries and wars and the like. And I want to make sure veterans get the benefits they deserve and get more certifications so they can work in civilian life, and veteran unemployment is now lower than the general population whereas it used to be higher.
10:09: Bob: America gives Pakistan $100 billion every year but they are full of bad people. Should we keep giving them moneys? Romney says yes, we need to keep giving them moneys, because if Pakistan falls apart then just anybody will get those nukes, and not even the right sort of people, you know what Romney’s talking about. (Okay, not really, but yeah, sorta.) We’ll need to work with Pakistan and help them to have a responsible government, because Pakistan is like America’s dumbass little brother who lives overseas and has a drug problem, and they ain’t heavy, they’re our metaphorical brother. Then Bob asks Romney about drones, and Romney totally supports drone strikes. Lines, sadly, are quite high for drone strikes, because people are selfish. Then Romney complains that it has been four whole years and fundamentalist Islam is not gone yet.
10:12: Obama thinks it’s important to help conservative Islamic governments liberalize and develop economically. Then points out under his watch that the USA jumped to stand for democracy in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, and nobody has any doubts about America loving democracy and freedom, no sir. Al-Qaeda is weaker than it was, despite Romney pretending otherwise.
10:14: Bob: What is the greatest future threat to America? Obama: Terrorist networks. China is a potential threat, but it’s also a potential partner, and we’ve told China to play by the same rules as the rest of us. We went after international trade “cheaters” and we’ve won just about every WTO case we’ve filed. We stopped China from flooding the USA with cheap tires and now we can sell steel to China, and Romney criticized me for being too tough and protectionist. Also we need to spend money on education and R&D and infrastructure, and Romney wants to cut spending on all of that. Romney gets real offended and says that government doesn’t invest in things (what?) and that Nuclear Iran is the worst thing ever. Then points out that there are lots of Chinese people who want to be free, and says that America can partner with China, which will be difficult when he wants to call China poopheads on his first day in office as he promised to do in the last debate. Then he goes back to military spending. Then he complains that China is holding down their currency and that has to end, and says AGAIN he will call them poopheads on day one, and boy I’m sure the Chinese will love that.
10:19: Bob points out that calling China poopheads might start a trade war. Romney actually uses hand gestures to suggest that China has more to lose from a trade war than the USA does. China’s IP theft is very bad and Romney will Do Something About That. Obama snidely points out that Romney knows all about outsourcing, and he’s bet on American workers, like when he bet on the auto industry. Goes back to government investment in education and basic research. US exports have doubled since Obama came into office and currencies are better for exports than they have been since 1993. We were able to transition to Asian defence because we pulled out of Iraq and will pull out of Afghanistan. America has trade agreements with other countries to pressure China. Romney whines about the auto industry attack because he loves American cars and he wanted his stupid, stupid plan for a privately managed bankruptcy. Obama butts in to point out Romney is just full of shit and Romney gives him a sneer. Then he attacks government investment in Tesla and Solyndra and says “that’s not research.” Obama is jumping at the bit to respond to Romney.
10:26: Obama: “You were very clear” that Romney was full of crap and wanted private bankruptcies. We can’t cut education and R&D investments. We can’t bring down the deficit with seven trillion bucks of tax cuts and military spending. We’ve started making real progress and the old policies which are Romney’s policies will not work. Good line movement there. Romney goes into his usual schtick about the food stamp numbers and the unemployment numbers, you know the drill by now, but the lines are not nearly so strong as they were. And he loves teachers, but he wants the private sector to grow instead.
10:29: Closing statements! Obama: Well, now you have a choice. Over the last four years we’ve been digging our way out of shitty GOP policies. You know Obama’s spiel by this point, there’s nothing really new here. Romney: [initiate Optimic-Morning-In-America.exe] [initiate Bipartisanship.exe] [initiate I-Am-A-Moderate-No-Really.exe].
10:33: And that is that. Basically a tie here, I think, with a slight lean to Obama because Romney had to agree with his foreign policy so often. Romney didn’t make any huge mistakes and wasn’t a pissy asshole this time around for the most part, but lied out his ass like always. Obama stuck to his ground game and rebutted where he needed to do.
8:56: Blah blah talking heads most important debate ever. David Gergen sucks.
8:58: CNN’s room of voters sure is white.
9:01: Candy Crowley has selected the voters’ questions, so in large part if this debate is good or shit rests on her. Shocking. I’m sure by now that most of you have seen the rules the parties forced the moderators to agree to; it is also clear that in the veep debate Martha Raddatz ignored a lot of them. Let’s see of Crowley has as much metaphorical ballage as Raddatz did. My prediction: nahhhhhhh.
9:02: And here are the candidates! QUESTION FOR ROMNEY: Jeremy Epstein wants to know if he will have a job when he finishes college. Romney thanks everybody and then says the question is very important, just like another girl who just told him blah blah blah personal anecdote. Romney wants to make sure it’s cheaper for kids to go to college and wants to keep Pell Grants and loans intact (which, no, he doesn’t, he just doesn’t, first lie within the one minute mark), and then talks about how he knows bidness and therefore can make jobs appear by planting job trees.
9:06: Obama wants to build manufacturing jobs, unlike Romney who would have let GM go bankrupt. He wants to change the tax code. He wants to make the education system even better and increase accessibility to student loans and more slots for community colleges. He also wants to make sure America invests in renewable energy. And he wants to reduce the deficit by making wealthy people pay more. And infrastructure! This is a pretty bland opening from Obama.
9:08: Crowley wants to know how long-term unemployeds will get jobs. Romney says Obama is a failure and he has his Five Point Plan which is not actually a plan but whatever, nobody’s going to call him on that. Also he didn’t want GM to go bankrupt, he wanted a managed bankruptcy! Which would have been impossible, and also it was Obama’s fault GM went bankrupt, which HOLY SHIT that is so mendacious. Obama: “Candy, what Governor Romney said just isn’t true.” “Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan: make sure the well-off play by a different set of rules.” OHHHHHH OBAMA CAME TO PLAY. Romney gets really, really pissy, and let’s have him do more of that.
9:11 Philip Tricolla wants to know about gas prices and that Stephen Chu doesn’t want to reduce them. Obama: we’ve increased domestic oil production, but we also increased CAFE standards and increased renewable energy use, which means less oil importing. “Romney says” he has a plan, but that’s just letting oil companies do whatever, and we have to look to the renewable future like China and Germany are and we have to build them and Jeremy gets a job that way. Romney says “let’s look at his policies, as opposed to his rhetoric” and complains that federal land oil production is down and he also brought criminal sanctions against oil drillers in North Dakota because they killed some migratory birds, and says that Obama is not Mr Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal, and maybe it is not wise to suggest a black man should be called Mr. Coal, GOVERNOR DIPSHIT. And then he promises that America will be energy independent within eight years, which is a fucking fantasy, and complains about the Keystone XL pipeline.
9:17: Candy wants to know if high gas prices are the new normal. Obama says world demand is high, but that Romney lied a bunch just previously, and pointed out that he shut down coal plants in Massachusetts (OOOOOOOOH), then talks about clean coal (ugh ugh ugh) and points out that oil imports are down and production is up and also efficient cars. Romney: But you haven’t done that, you cut permits on federal land – and Obama interrupts and tells him it’s not true, and there’s some back and forth. Obama points out that oil companies had leases which they weren’t using and that they had to use those leases or lose them. Mitt keeps screaming that production is down and Obama says that’s just not true, and then complains that coal is in trouble, which it is but it’s in trouble because it’s MORE EXPENSIVE THAN OTHER FORMS OF ENERGY NOW. Also oil prices are up because Obama did not use his magic wand. Candy wants to know more about gas prices because she REALLY WANTS TO KNOW. Obama points out that gas prices were lower when he took office because they were in a middle of a recession due to policies like Mitt’s, “and it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could lower gas prices because his policies could put us back in the same mess.” OOOOOOOOOOO. Then he slams Romney for calling wind energy jobs “imaginary” and says Romney doesn’t have an energy strategy. Mitt then starts debating Candy about the debate rules because he’s a PISSY BITCH.
9:23: Romney’s lines are WAY DOWN. Mary Follano wants to know about taxes and specifically what deductions Romney would cut in order to afford his massive tax cut, listing several specific ones that are pretty major. Romney wants to bring tax rates down for middle income earners, he says (uh huh). Then he says he will limit some deductions but mostly for rich people but they won’t pay any LESS taxes, which WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOUR TAX CUT THEN MITT. Then he talks about his “bucket” idea again, and also he’ll kill the capital gains tax for earners under 250K, and won’t increase taxes on the middle class, and Obama is bad.
9:27: Obama: I said I would cut middle-class taxes and I did. I said I would cut small-business taxes and I did that a lot too. I just want the BushTaxCuts ™ to expire for rich people, and the only reason it hasn’t happened is because the GOP won’t let middle-class earners and poors get a tax cut unless rich people gets theirs. Also, Romney was on 60 Minutes two weeks ago and thinks it’s fair for him to pay a lower tax rate than a bus driver and he thinks that’s good for the economy, and that’s stupid. Lines are MASSIVELY for Obama here. Obama then says Romney has said he wants to cut taxes a whole lot. Romney responds! Tax plan! He’s not looking to cut taxes for rich people despite having said that’s what he wants to do! Also small businesses! And the last four years have been awful! Then he goes back to his Five Ideas I Really Like and he spent his life in the private sector.
9:32: Obama: Romney’s tax plan and military spending costs 8 trillion dollars over ten years. Romney says this is gonna be revenue-neutral and won’t add to the deficit, but at least Romney doesn’t give you any specifics. Then he points out that Romney’s plan would never fly in the private sector and Romney is just giving him a DEATH STARE. Obama points out that Romney’s plan is a joke and by definition means soaking the non-rich. Candy: “If the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing -” Romney interrupts. “Of COURSE they add up.” He did BUSINESS. Obama has DEFICITS. Thank you, Romney, for bringing Dickhead Mitt into play, we’ve missed him. Then when Candy tries to move on Romney talks over her (and the lines drop).
9:37: Katherine Fenton wants to know about gender-based pay inequality and what they’ll do! Obama talks about his mom and his grandmother, and then talks about the Lily Ledbetter Act, because this is something good he did almost immediately. Lines are nice and high here for both genders. Then he talks about education, and points out that they’ve expanded Pell Grants by not spending money on banks to manage student loans. And discrimination is bad. Romney: “Important topic.” And when he was governor of Massachusetts he tried to hire some women for his cabinet, and he had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state, and he understands about flex-time for women. He has been talking for two minutes and has not talked about a single policy initiative. Instead, the economy will be so awesome that women will get flex-time JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE SO IN DEMAND, which is the biggest line of bullshit he has spread since, uh, the last time he talked.
9:42: Obama: Romney wouldn’t give his support to the Ledbetter Act. Then he pivots to Obamacare and attacks Romney for being against women having contraceptive coverage, and that Romney said employers should be able to decide if women get contraceptive coverage, and also Romney wants to kill Planned Parenthood, which provides low-cost healthcare for women, and that “women’s issues” are in fact “family issues, these are economic issues”. Good pivot.
9:45: Susan Katz is an undecided voter who blames the Bush Administration for a lot and wants to know what the biggest difference between Mitt and Dubya is. Romney first chooses to whine YET AGAIN that the debate rules are against him because SWEET JESUS what an entitled fuck. Romney’s Five Fingers Of Doom are nothing like what Bush would have done! You know the Five Fingers of Doom by now, don’t you? Because Romney is a BIDNESSMAN and also he will crack down on China somehow, and also he finds Obamacare, which is the SAME FUCKING THING as Romneycare, “troubling.”
9:48: Okay, we started off in a recession, remember. 31 consecutive months of job growth (okay, shitty job growth, but still), and also that Romney’s “different economic plan” is tax cuts just like Bush’s, and also he outsourced jobs to China and currently invests in companies that are employed by China, and that Romney won’t get tough on China. Kind of a meh attack, honestly. Also Obama has brought America three trade deals and passed new laws to prevent China from flooding the market with cheap tires and Romney called it “protectionist.” Finally, Romney is different from Bush because Bush didn’t try to voucherize Medicare, favoured immigration reform and didn’t want to kill Planned Parnethood. BAM.
9:51: Candy moves to the next question (ROMNEYSCOWL) and Michael Jones wants to ask Obama why he should vote for him because the basic necessities are expensive. Obama: cut taxes for you, for small businesses, ended the war in Iraq, killed Bin Laden, Obamacare protects you from insurance companies, passed Wall street reforms, five million jobs, saved the auto industry. Admittedly, none of this means YOU aren’t struggling, Mike, but that’s why Obama has a jobs and energy plan, and Obama keeps his promises (oh, be careful, Barack, that’s dicey). Romney has promises too – he promised all during the campaign that he would do everything Team Crazy would do, and he’ll keep those promises. DEATHSTARE FROM ROMNEY.
9:54: Romney: “I know you know better.” NOT PATRONIZING. Also Obama got his unemployment predictions wrong. And he hasn’t reformed Social Security or Medicare, and he hasn’t put forward an immigration plan, and he hasn’t cut the deficit in half. And Obamacare will make your lives worse! More people are on food stamps! And his policies have not made the economy grow! Unlike Reagan, who was balls-awesome. Then he patronizes Obama for only being a pretty talker, and Obama doesn’t give a DEATH STARE but you know it’s on now if it wasn’t before.
9:58: Switch to Lorraine Osorio, who wants to know what immigrants without green cards will get under a Romney administration. Romney’s parents were born in Mexico! Ann’s were born in Wales! Romney wants to give visas to skilled immigrants who graduate from American universities. He wants to crack down on illegal immigration because it’s not fair to people waiting in line, so no amnesty. He’s against driver’s licenses for immigrants, but wants a “pathway” for kids of illegal immigrants to citizenship and basically describes the DREAM Act, which he opposed for months. Then he complains that Obama didn’t pass immigration reform. Obama responds: I’ve done what I can on my own, and tried to get Congress on board but oh well. We streamlined immigration as much as we could, and we increased the border patrol and dropped the flow of undocumented workers to a 40-year-low. He wants to concentrate on illegals who are criminals. Then he points out that Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act and that he was going to make illegals’ lives so miserable they’d want to leave. Then he references the Arizona law as being unjust and points out that Romney LUBS it, and points out that the GOP can’t support immigration reform.
10:05: Romney says he was only for the GOOD parts of the Arizona law, and that Obama didn’t file immigration legislation in his first year like he promised. Then he says self-deportation is just letting people make their own choice, and he doesn’t want to round people up, just make them miserable. Also, he invested in China in a BLIND TRUST and Obama’s pension has investments in China. Obama snarks about their relative pensions sizes, then (after some chatbackandforth) points out that Romney’s immigration advisor is the guy who wrote the Arizona law (and not just the GOOD parts of it either). And points out that the GOP is no longer serious about immigration, because DUH.
10:08: Kerry Ladka (and his friends) wants to know about Libya and why the State Department denied increased security. Obama: diplomats have it tough because it’s a dangerous job and they are MY PEEPS, so nobody is more concerned than me about them. After Benghazi, I gave orders to beef up security, investigate what went wrong, and find out who did the killing and get them. And Romney put out a press release trying to make hay about it and you don’t turn national security into a political issue while it’s happening. Also I ended the war in Iraq and began the transition out of Afghanistan and got Bin Laden, so you better believe we’re gonna get it right because “I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home.”
10:12: Romney snidely says Obama just took responsibility for what happened, then implies that the Obama administration lied about what happened, then says what is most alarming is that Obama went to a political fundraiser the next day. Lines do not really agree with him. Also, Obama’s Middle East policy is a failure: look at Syria! And Israel! And Egypt! And Iran! And he went on an apology tour! Candy asks about Hillary taking responsibility for what happened at Benghazi. Obama says HE takes responsibility, and then says he called it an act of terror the next day, and then says that the notion that his team would play politics with the incident is OFFENSIVE. Romney tries to catch the President and say that Obama’s lying, but CANDY CROWLEY points out he’s wrong. Obama has the DEATH STARE for the first time all debate, truly – this really, really offended him. Romney is FLAILING now.
10:17: Nina Gonzalez wants to know about limiting the availability of assault weapons. Obama: we’re a Second Amendment nation and hunting is great, but we’ve had too many mass gun slaughters lately. Obama wants a “broader conversation” which includes an assault weapons ban, and the NRA just went collectively insane. Obama then says he wants automatic weapons out of the hands of criminals and nutjobs. Romney is against gun control laws, then says it is illegal in the United States to have automatic weapons, which WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS GUY TALKING ABOUT? Then he talks about how it’s important to have a two-parent home, “and we can make changes in our culture” to make that happen, then goes to Operation Fast and Furious because you knew that was going to happen, and that Obama has carried out executive privilege to prevent investigations from happening. Candy asks him about flip-flopping on assault weapons bans because he signed one in Massachusetts, and Romney says that pro-gun people helped out there so it was mutually agreed upon, and Washington is gridlocked.
10:24: Candy asks him if he would sign a bipartisan gun control bill and Mitt goes against it. Obama: Romney was against assault weapons until the NRA said jump, but family is important. And we need education because education is the magic bullet, so to speak. Inner city school reform. Skilled worker training. Higher education. Lines for Obama dip when he asks for a few seconds more because Candy IS TO BE RESPECTED, say the lines.
10:26: Carol Goldberg wants to know about outsourcing. Romney: China is bad and taking all our jobs because it’s not attractive to run a business in America. He uses his “trickle-down government” line again and talks about BIDNESS. China has not played by the rules and artificially keeps the yuan low, which is quite true, and Obama has not done anything about this. Romney promises on Day One that he will talk smack about China and then put tariffs in place if he has to. And also taxes, and he blathers about Canada’s corporate tax rate because FUCK OFF, don’t bring us into your bullshit, Mitt. He wants regulators to ENCOURAGE small business! And also, Obamacare bad! This is Mitt’s same-old same-old.
10:30: Obama wants to kill corporate tax loopholes that make overseas investment attractive, and his policies will create jobs… in China! Or India or Germany. Also, in the private sector, Romney did a lot of outsourcing in the private sector, and also the American dollar has risen while he’s been President, and the pressure he put on China means American exports have gone up. Candy wants to know how America can manufacture iPads and things. Romney: China has been cheating and stealing IP, and BIDNESS BIDNESS TAXES TAXES. Obama: some low-wage, low-skill jobs are not going to come back, so we concentrate on high-skill jobs, and if we’re cutting on investments in science and education to pay for Romney’s tax cuts, we’re fucked. Romney starts shouting GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CREATE JOBS like a crazy man.
10:34: Barry Green wants to know how each candidate thinks he’s been mischaracterized. Romney: I really care about people! I spent my life in the private sector because I want to help people! I believe in God! I served as a missionary for my church (and avoided the Vietnam draft, ooops). Also I brought Romneycare to Massachusetts, because now it’s good. And Obama sucks and the economy sucks. Obama: I don’t think government creates jobs. I think free enterprise and self-reliance create jobs – but I also think everybody gets a fair shot and pays their fair share. I think Romney is a good man (Obama, showing he can indeed lie through his teeth), but that 47% comment shows where the dipshit is coming from. Then he talks about the GI Bill as a good example of what he wants.
10:39: And that’s that. Romney wasn’t as good as he was in the first debate, but with a few exceptions he generally avoided fucking up (other than, you know, the constant lying). Obama CAME TO PLAY, however, and that’s the difference, because when you get down to it he’s smarter than Romney is. Mild win for Obama.
8:51: Martha Raddatz is explaining that if you do not turn off your cell phone, you will run the risk of being humiliated forever.
8:56: CNN Talkinhedz ™ are explaining that either this debate is incredibly important or totally meaningless. I should probably switch to Newsworld, but my TV’s reception on CNN is better and it makes Paul Ryan look so much more handsome, and that’s the important thing.
9:01: Hey, when was the last time Wolf Blitzer wasn’t a joke? The first Gulf War, maybe?
9:02: And they are out. Biden has a big fuck-you smile. Ryan’s dead eyes are in full effect.
9:03: LIBYA! The embassy attack. Was it an intelligence failure? Biden: It was a tragedy, and we will find and bring to justice the people who did it, and it won’t happen again. But unlike Mitt Romney, we’re ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by the way we killed Bin Laden, and Mitt Romney is a dipshit who wasn’t concerned about any of that and probably wants to go to war in Iran. Ryan: they should’ve called it a terrorist attack, and shouldn’t we have Marines guarding our embassies, and why are they blaming us for politicizing it, and Benghazi is just the symptom of everything going bad. Biden is GRINNING LIKE A JACKAL at Ryan’s response. Raddatz: how about when you put out a statement on the day of the attacks? Wasn’t that inappropriate? Ryan: we should always stand up for freedom and by the way, we can’t cut defense.
9:08: BIDEN: “With all due respect, that’s a load of malarky.” DAMN! He points out that Ryan voted to cut embassy security, that Romney made a statement before anybody knew any facts on the ground, that Obama has brought the world together on Iran. Raddatz asks Biden, basically, what he knew and when he knew it? Biden: the intelligence community told us what they happened, and then they learned some more and changed their minds. And then he slams the GOP for attacking Obama during a crisis. BIDEN CAME TO PLAY BALL, MOTHERFUCKERS
9:12: Ryan agrees with Raddatz that apologies are merited for when American troops piss on enemy corpses, but then goes back to attack about the lack of Marines in Benghazi. Switch to Iran! Raddatz talks about how a strike on Iran would not work and asks what each candidate’s position on a strike would be. Ryan: we can’t let Iran get nukes, and Obama fought for strenous sanctions which would have prevented Iran from getting more fissile material, and Obama is sending mixed signals, and we can’t let Iran get nukes, and Obama is a wimpy-wimp who is afraid to use the military. Biden: you think we would’ve gotten Russia and China on board with Republicans at the helm? Romney’s already said the sanctions are enough, what more do they want? Besides, all of the intelligence communities agree that Iran is still quite a ways from nuclear missiles. Then he fact-checks Ryan’s talk about fissile material, pointing out that Iran needs a missile in order for it to be any use.
9:17 “They’re spinning the centrifuges faster.” What does that EVEN MEAN, Paul Ryan? And then he bitches about Israel and that Obama went on “The View.” Raddatz points out that Netanyahu has promised to basically attack by spring and asks the guys what they’d do. Ryan: well, you get them to change their minds. Raddatz: how will you do that? Ryan: you have to have credibility. Ryan is looking like a real putz here. Biden then makes him look like even more of a putz with, like, facts, and points out again that Iran is totally isolated. Ryan again brags about sanctions. Biden: they don’t have a weapon. “Facts matter.” As does the world being behind you.
9:21: Back to Gates’ statement about a strike being disastrous. Ryan: Obama is encouraging Iran and they watered down the sanctions that manly Republicans put in place, then does some standard anti-Iran rhetoric. Biden: war has to be the last resort, and the sanctions are working, and we don’t bluff.
9:23: ECONOMY! Can you get unemployment below 6 percent? Biden: yes, but remember, we came into office in the middle of a disaster, at which time Romney said “no, let’s let the auto industry go under, let’s let houses go under,” and then references the 47% comment and Ryan’s 30% taker tax, and he is PISSED about this, and barking angry, and oh my god it’s so awesome. He references Grover Norquist and their blind fealty to his no-taxes pledge, then attacks them for wanting tax cuts for the super-wealthy. Ryan attacks the unemployment rate in Scranton and says “that’s how it’s going all over America,” and Biden jumps in and attacks but gets cut off by the moderator. Ryan: wrong direction! Wrong direction! Five point plan! Biden looks like he wants to punch him in the face. Then he explains that Mitt Romney brought gifts to a struggling family at Christmas, and gave 30 percent of his income to charity (well, most of that was actually the Mormon Church) and then zings Biden for being a gaffe machine.
9:29: Biden: “if you think the 47 percent comment was a mistake… I got a bridge to sell ya.” Biden talks about the accident that killed his daughter and first wife, gets a little hoarse-voiced, says he doesn’t doubt Romney’s commitment to individuals, but then says Romney would’ve let the auto industry go under, and then says that if the GOP would get out of the way, “stop talking about how you care” and savages the GOP for causing all the problems in the first place, and for everybody thinking it, Obama could NEVER HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH THIS, because black, and you know it.
9:31: Ryan: they had full control of the government when they came into office! (Not actually true.) He complains about cronyism and Biden starts groaning, pointing out that the inspector-general found precisely dick, and that Ryan asked for the stimulus he just whined about twice because “it would create growth and jobs! HIS WORDS!” Oh god this is beautiful. Ryan starts whining about borrowing money from China. Biden: it was a good idea and ratings agencies saying it was a good idea.
9:34: ENTITLEMENTS! Ryan: they’re going bankrupt! But we’ll only fix Social Security and Medicare for young people, not you old people who vote. And he GOES to the $716 BILLION FROM MEDICARE WELL and you can just SEE Biden lining up his swing like a clutch hitter, he’s trying not to giggle, it’s beautiful. Ryan goes through the usual gaggle of bullshit about their unworkable healthcare plan. Biden compares Ryan to Palin (SICK BURN), explains the $716 billion figure accurately, points out that the AMA and AARP endorsed it, that seniors got more benefits, then slams Ryan for, yeah, vouchers, like his original plan, and then goes FULL ROOSEVELT with a “trust me, folks, it’s not gonna cost any more” mock on Ryan. Ryan says “they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar” and that hospitals will go out of business (and he’s straight up lying, and Biden starts attacking hardcore him for lying) and Ryan actually says Biden is “under duress” and Biden is getting MORE AND MORE PISSED.
9:40: Ryan claims his plan is bipartisan. Biden points out that Ron Wyden disavowed the plan. Biden: “If they allowed Medicare to bargain for pharmaceuticals they would save $156 billion.” Ryan lies again about loss of choices. Raddatz asked about raising the age of eligibility, and Biden goes back to the Reagan era and says that they found a deal then to make the system solvent for fifty years without raising eligibility age, then attacks the voucher plan. Ryan whines about “stale tactics” and that Biden is fearmongering. Social Security privatizaion debate: Ryan talks a lot of crap and then Biden cuts through it, and then says straight up the GOP wants to kill Medicare and Social Security. Ryan is getting whinier and whinier.
9:44: TAXES. If your ticket is elected, who will pay more in taxes? Biden: middle class less, millionaires more, let the wealthy Bush tax cuts lapse. Then he says they want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class permanently – which is a terrible idea, let’s be fair – and then says that the GOP is holding middle-class tax cuts hostage and rich people don’t need help. Ryan: we need to grow the economy and create jobs and we will create seven million jobs, and you can’t pay the budget with taxes on rich people alone (good thing nobody is proposing that). Biden is grinning again like a motherfucker because Ryan really is just not that smart and then Ryan references Canada’s corporate tax cuts, which, FYI, didn’t really help at all here just so you guys know. Then Ryan talks about loopholes being closed and mocks the “five trillion” remark.
9:49: Raddatz: does Ryan actually have specifics about how you’ll pay for your tax cuts? Ryan gives a non-answer and Raddatz asks again. Ryan gives another non-answer and talks about “framework” and the six bogus studies that say his plan is feasible. Biden desperately wants to respond to this and: 97 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000 a year, but they want to count hedge funds (saying the words like “dead hobos”) as small businesses, then points out that they want to exempt the capital gains exemption from their loophole plans, and says you have to cut mortgage exemptions and charitable deductions and healthcare deductions and it’s not mathematically possible. Ryan says NO IT TOTALLY IS and still refuses to give details in the name of getting things done. Ryan then goes to the Romney Is Bipartisan well.
9:53: Raddatz wants to know how else Biden will balance the budget, Biden says “well, let the Bush cuts elapse” and then Ryan starts talking about how the math really and truly works and Biden wants him to guarantee the mortgage deduction will be untouched for people earning less than $100K and Ryan just talks over it. Then we switch to the military in a hurry. Ryan blasts the military cuts and how they cannot be cut. Biden then says, pointedly, that Ryan VOTED FOR THE DEAL that provides for the automatic cuts, and that the military and the Joint Chiefs wants a smaller, leaner military.
9:57: Afghanistan! Ryan: We agree with the transition! We agree with the 2014 date! But we would have done it differently from how Obama is doing it, which is Bad, and military cuts are also bad. Biden: I’ve been to Afghanistan and Iraq twenty times, we’ve killed Bin Laden, we’ve trained the Afghan military, and we’ve done that, so we’re drawing down gradually, and Ryan and Romney say “it depends” but no, it doesn’t, we’re leaving, the primary objectives are basically completed, so let’s go. Ryan: well, we don’t WANT to stay, and Obama’s foreign policy is a failure everywhere and also jobs, for some reason, and we don’t want to give an exact date for when we leave because if we leave then the terrorists will know we are leaving. Ryan’s total lack of foreign policy acumen is really glaring here. Biden: 49 of our allies are leaving. Everybody agrees. Raddatz: do you think the Taliban is taking advantage of the timeline? Biden: if you don’t set a timeline, they won’t step up and they’ll just keep letting us do the job. (I think this is going to be a painfully effective argument.) Raddatz: What about the surge troop drawdown? Was that political? Biden: we announced the surge’s end when we began the surge, and we followed the Joint Chiefs’ reaction. You can’t wait; it takes months to draw down forces.
10:05: In a surreal moment, Ryan is lecturing Biden about the weather in Afghanistan, and Biden again just destroys him because Biden knows this stuff to the bone from thirty years plus of foreign policy experience and Ryan got two hours to prepare for this part of the debate because he has none. Biden is SHOUTING at him by the end. Oh god Biden is finally showing Paul Ryan the total lack of respect he has always deserved and it is GLORIOUS.
10:08: What about Syria? BIDEN: It’s a different country and it’s totally different because it’s right in the middle of everything instead of being in a bunch of mountains in the middle of nowhere. Romney keeps saying “we need to do more” but seriously, folks, what the fuck are they gonna do? Start another ground war? When you ask Romney about what he’s actually gonna do, he has to admit he wouldn’t do anything different, and if they want to do something different, they should nut up and say so. Ryan: nobody’s going to send troops to Syria! What WE would do is not refer at one single point to Assad as a “reformer” and we wouldn’t let Putin have veto power in the Security Council, because Paul Ryan lives in a magical elf world where he thinks the President can do that. Biden is taking notes. FEAR HIS NOTES.
10:11: Biden: “What – would – my – friend – do – differently?” And then he just starts punching Ryan in the face. no, I just imagined that, sorry. “We’re not going through the UN.” Raddatz: “What happens if Assad hangs on?” Ryan: It will be bad and we will lose credibility, but we should have worked with freedom fighters earlier, and then explains that if he had been in charge he somehow would have kept Russia from giving Syria weapons, because magical elf world. Raddatz: “what is your criteria for intervention generally?” Ryan: Strategic American interests, although he bobbles a bit when he gets asked about humanitarian intervention.
10:15: Raddatz wants to ask about abortion and how their respective Catholic faiths have informed their beliefs thereof. Ryan says that his faith tells him how he should protect the vulnerable and then is promptly struck by lightning. Then he talks about seeing his baby on the ultrasound and says he’s straight-up pro-life and that the Romney administration will only protect exemptions for rape, incest and health of the mother (which is debatable, but this is probably the most honest Ryan has been all night, so what the hell, let him have it). Then he complains about Obamacare interfering with faith because he can’t go five minutes without bullshitting.
10:17: Biden talks about the Catholic social doctrine. He accepts his church’s position on abortion, but refuses to impose it on other people, and says it’s a decision between a woman and her doctor, and then tears into Ryan on the interference with faith issue because it’s bullshit, and points out that Ryan has in the past not been interested in rape/incest/health exemptions. Ryan basically admits this, but says that Romney will have policy! Because you can trust Romney. Raddatz wants more details and Ryan says he thinks elected officials and not judges should decide how these things should be determined, and then Biden drops the Supreme Court hammer and points out how close the Roe v. Wade decision is.
10:21: Raddatz wants the candidates to complain about negative campaigning because a soldier doesn’t like it. Biden: we’re obligated to the troops, and troops are great, and by the way Mitt Romney said that soldier was a leech. Both of us probably regret some of the things that are said about this campaign, and Citizens United just made it worse, and the most important things a President can have is conviction and compassion, and Romney is kind of shit out of luck on both of those. Ryan: Well, we couldn’t cut the military and Obama is blame blame blame and Ryan’s lines are AWFUL, by the way, they have been all night, and then he just blames Obama a lot more after complaining about Obama’s campaign being too negative. Ryan is really coming off as a whiny little prick, frankly. Biden is TAKING NOTES again and has his “oh man am I pissed with this little turd” face. Biden: Ryan’s budgets MURDER the middle class so it can give tax cuts, and Ryan voted to put two tax cuts on a credit card so who the fuck is this guy, really?
10:28: Raddatz: What can you bring to the table personally? Ryan: I can work with Democrats! I’m VERY SERIOUS! Biden: I’m genuine and honest, and I’m all about the middle class and treating people fairly.
10:29: Closing statements! Biden: Thanks, everybody, NOW BEERS ON ME! Nah, just kidding. OR AM I? but really, Biden is all “we need to help people who need help, oh, and you know how I’m frustrated with them being douchebags? Yeah, they’re really douchebags, and fuck these people, they hate you and what you stand for, and all you normal folks want is a fair go and peace of mind, and Turdboy here would fuck you in the ass for a dollar.” Ryan: “Thanks! And I WOULD fuck you in the ass for a dollar!” Nah, it’s more of the “Obama had his chance, so let us try our disastrous plans all over again because maybe this time they work, and Mitt Romney created jobs so how about we let him do that in the Presidency even though he did not so much do that.”
10:32: And that’s that. Raddatz did a decent job as moderator. Ryan was a worthless little schmuck. Biden just became every Democrat’s favrit.
8:56: CNN talking heads all exclaiming how desperately important this debate is and how Romney must shake up the race and blah blah blah. David Gergen, surprisingly, says the most intelligent thing when he says that the most important thing is probably who appears most relaxed and at ease. Because, frankly, that is the most important thing. The only people who will change their minds tonight are people who engage with meaningless bullshit. That is why we are watching tonight: to see whose meaningless bullshit is least damaging. HOORAY FOR MODERN PAUL TICKS.
9:00: Jim Lehrer provides YOUR debate boilerplate. He promises specifics! Because he can’t say “vagueness will be allowed.”
9:01: Handshake. Romney looks uncomfortable and strained already.
9:01: JOBS! What are the major differences between the two of you re: jobs? Obama: Thanks, BTW, it’s my wedding anniversary, charming joke (Romney fake laugh). Things really sucked, but we’re starting to turn it around – private sector, housing rebound, auto industry. Romney wants to cut taxes on the rich and snip regulations. I want to invest in education, energy, small businesses, end the wars, and deal with the deficit, unlike Romney, who wants to do Bush things all over again. “Economic patriotism.”
9:06: JOBS! Romney: Strained joke re: Obama anniversary. Romney talks about people who are begging him for help and how he gave them a shiny quarter if they danced for him – no, sorry. Romney’s not going to cut taxes for the rich! That’s silly talk! He’s talking really fast as he goes through his five-point non-specific plan. How non-specific is this plan? Number four is “balance the budget.” That’s it. Balance the budget. Well, gosh, Mitt, nobody thought of that shit before, did they? Also Obama is for bigger gubmint, in fact “trickle down” gubmint (which is a very clever rhetorical bait and switch by Romney, who grins as he says it, the smug fuck).
9:09: Lehrer asks Obama about trickle-down. Obama talks more about education spending, then goes to the tax code – he wants to lower the corporate tax rate but remove corporate loopholes, especially those that benefit those evil companies that move jobs overseas. And then energy! But good energy, not bad energy. Also we need to close our deficit. This is a series of total non-answers from Obama, and then he goes to Romney’s tax cuts and increased military spending, which he should hammer Mitt on at every chance.
9:11: Lehrer offers Romney the chance to ask the President a question directly about what he just said. Romney responds by going to his talking points, which is NOT A QUESTION, MITT, jesus christ Jim Lehrer just gave you a gift on a platter. Twelve minutes in and all these two guys are doing is agreeing with each other. Mitt then switches to slamming Obama about oil pipelines and coal, because he isn’t winning Kentucky and West Virginia by enough points yet I suppose. Mitt then claims he will have no tax cuts that will add to the deficit, which HA HA HA HA HA HA oh god.
9:14: Obama responds! He promised to cut taxes for middle class families and he did, because the middle class is awesome and needs cars and computers. Romney’s five-trillion dollar tax cut! Obama very smartly points out that Romney can’t make his tax cut revenue-neutral without raising taxes on the middle class by killing their deductions, which is of course absolutely true. Romney stammers during Obama’s rundown as he gets slammed because he is a whiny bitch.
9:16: Romney says Obama is “inaccurate” and then says “well, I’m not gonna put any tax plan in place that adds to the deficit, so nyah nyah nyah” because he didn’t propose a fucking 5 trillion dollar tax cut, and then basically straight up calls Obama a liar, and then says there are a bunch of studies that are on HIS side and there are so many studies, really, so who can say. Then he points out that individual rates also help small businesses and therefore they can hire more people.
9:18: Jim Lehrer asks Obama if he challenges Romney’s description of his plan to not do the tax plan he’s been running on. Obama: “For eighteen months he’s been running on this plan and now five months before the election he says “never mind.”" BOOOOOOOOM! “It’s math.” BOOOOOOOOM! See, I said that Obama didn’t like Romney, and this is the sort of thing I’m talking about. For Obama, that was grade-A-nuclear assault rhetoric. Then he points out that he and Romney have different definitions of “small businesses,” including Donald Trump, and then he makes fun of Trump because fuck that guy.
9:21: Jim Lehrer notes that they’re off-schedule but so what. Romney starts talking about small businesses that are large, and then points out they hire lots of people, and then starts talking about really small businesses because… they are not large. He then cites the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which is a GOP shill group so really, duh. Then some Romneyblather about deductions, nothing specific. Obama: “If you believe you can cut taxes by 5 trillion and add 2 trillion in defense spending, and you don’t think you’ll pick up the tab, then maybe you should vote for Romney. Oh, and we tried this with George W. Bush and none of it fucking worked. I’m just saying, let’s do what we did during the Clinton years, when things were awesome.” Granted, there was a tech bubble then, but we’ll just skip that bit. Romney needs a couple more seconds to whine that he doesn’t have a 5 trillion dollar tax cut, because that’s not his plan! His plan is new! New! It will put people back to work, because new!
9:26: The deficit! How do you fix it? Romney: It’s not just an economic issue – it’s a moral issue! (Says the guy who pays a tax rate lower than pretty much anybody reading this.) He promises to kill Obamacare, to kill PBS, to make government more efficient, and turn the USA into Yugoslavia. Also Obama doubled the deficit. OBAMA: Well, when I came into office, I had a trillion dollar deficit because of your party’s wars and tax cuts. We’ve killed government programs we didn’t need, like defense programs, even some education programs that didn’t work, we went after Medicare fraud, et cetera. I put forward a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan, cuts:taxes ratio at 5:3. Bipartisanly! Balanced! Then Obama references the time when every GOP nominee was offered a 10:1 cuts:taxes plan and he refused it, and points out that Romney and the rest of the GOP are retards for not taking that deal.
9:35: Sorry, bit of a site meltdown there. Okay, Obama is talking about corporate tax rates and that he’s figured out how to pay for it, e.g. not giving companies deductions for outsourcing, then talks about oil company deductions and says it’s time to end it. Romney then complains that green energy got 90 billion worth of tax breaks and oil got 2.8 billion and that’s not fair to oil companies and Obama only picks loser companies, and then Romney says that outsourcing deduction doesn’t exist, and then there’s some talk about Medicaid block grants. Because states know better, and governors begged for more power, like politicians never do that.
9:40: Social Security! Obama: The basic structure is sound, but let’s talk about the values behind it and Medicare (and he’s bringing in Medicare, as he correctly notes that it drives government expenses far more than SS). Talks about his grandmother and the word “entitlements,” and says old people deserve their SS and Medicare, and figure out how the money is being spent, then points out that Obamacare stopped overpayment on Medicare Advantage and used that money for preventative care.
9:43: Romney! Immediately starts bullshitting about Medicare Advantage savings and claims Obama is cutting Medicare for them. Then Romney, who says he can cut down the deficit, says he would put that 700 bllion right back into Medicare. Obama says “by the way, he’ll turn Medicare into a voucher program.” Romney DESPERATELY says “that’s for future people! Not old people right now!” Obama accurately explains the idea of a voucher program, then points out that Romney, in fairness, has said they’ll keep regular Medicare as well, but whoops that won’t work because Medicare will just get all the really sick old people until it collapses from expense. Then he basically calls Romney a bullshitter, and points out that repealing Obamacare will give seniors additional expenses immediately (good work to point that out).
9:48: Romney! He likes choice! He won’t say, right out, that he likes voucher programs (as Jim Lehrer asks him) then says that Medicare Advantage was envisioned by the Clinton administration. Obama: private insurers have to make a profit and they have higher administrative costs, so the money has to come from somewhere, and when you move to a voucher system you’re gonna have people paying out of pocket, and Medicare is cheaper. Romney says the private sector is HAPPY TIME SEXY.
9:51: Regulation! Romney: it’s essential! I need to know them! (So I can exploit them!) Dodd-Frank is bad! It guarantees banks “too big to fail!” I would repeal and replace it! Obama: “I think this is a great example of why we have been in such an enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behaviour across the board.” Bit of a weird sentence there, and then he points out that DF requires greater capital requirements, that banks need a plan for what happens when they go tits-up (which is a more accurate portrayal of what Romney said, but Obama really should have pointed out that Romney was full of crap there), but then rebounds by saying that Wall Street “needs more regulation,” and if you disagree with that then Romney is your guy. Romney complains that it has been TWO YEARS since Dodd-Frank was enacted and a lot of the provisions have not yet been defined, skipping over the fact that it is HIS party who should have been doing that.
9:56: Health care! Obamacare! Romney talks to the little people who cannot afford insurance! Then he starts complaining about Obamacare, which is basically his own program except applied on the federal level. He eventually gets around to making his only serious argument, which is that healthcare should be applied at the state level, then says that the president should have been focusing on JERBS. Obama rightly points out that people were terrified of medical bankruptcy, of insurance companies fucking them over, then does the dime-explanation of the ACA. Just as a sidenote, CNN’s little lines are through the ROOF for Obama on this. Then he points out that they used Romneycare as a model and Romney just looks down at his notes. Romney whines that the ACA didn’t get a single Republican vote, then complains about taxes and the Medicare cost reductions board. Lines go through the roof when Romney talks about “bipartisanship.” Obama responds by pointing out that he used Republican ideas and that it’s the same plan. Then he goes to the Medicare board thing and says, welp, you can either have people go without coverage, or you can find ways in the systems to save money by using the most effective treatments (implying that GUESS WHAT ROMNEY PICKS, of course).
10:06: Romneyplan! Insurance company regulations! (I guess he likes those.) And we don’t need no board of people telling us what works! We need performance pay instead!
10:08: It’s time to say it: so far Romney, much as I dislike him, is doing a good job in this debate. He’s staying to his talking points and hammering hard. He is mastering the stylistic, empty bullshit that is necessary. Obama is doing the better job attacking his opponent’s unpopular positions and lack of details.
10:10: A LONG thing from Obama about how Romney won’t tell anybody the details of any of his plans. “Is Romney keeping his plans secret because they’re TOO GOOD?” BOOOM. Romney responds by saying “well, if I say it’s my way or the highway, I don’t get a lot done.” Then he compares himself to Reagan because of COURSE he does. Interestingly, comparing himself to Reagan does not move the little lines in Colorado. Then he says he REALLY HAS A PLAN for people with pre-existing conditions! Really!
10:13: The role of government! Obama: Government should keep people safe, that’s the job. Government can create opportunities. Then one-ups Romney by comparing his view of government to Lincoln. (Romney thinking: “WELL I AM LIKE WASHINGTON, OBAMA! DOUBLE INFINITY!”) Then baits Romney on welfare reform, and says he wants to hire more teachers and Romney doesn’t. Romney then says he loves schools! How dare anybody say he hates schools! Then blah blah role of gubmint is in the Constitution. He believes in not cutting military spending! Then he talks about helping the unfortunate and how we should do that. This is the most generic stuff he’s said all evening, then he goes to “trickle-down government” again, so I guess Team Romney really thinks it’s a great line.
10:17: Education! Romney: state and local level, but the federal government can help maybe! Then he straight-up proposes a voucher program. Lehrer asks if Obama differs from Romney, and Obama says straight up: well, if Romney wants to cut taxes, he’s going to have to cut somewhere, and education is part of it, and that would be a lot of cuts. (This only tests okay at best.) Talks about making community college more accessible and college more affordable by nationalizing student loans.
10:22: Romney: “You’re not entitled to your own facts. I have no plan to cut education funding.” He has no specifics and won’t come up with them, but he promises not to cut education spending! Then he starts attacking on green jobs again and Obama looks ACTUALLY PISSED for the first time all debate. Then he grins when Romney starts talking about his experience. Obama wants to respond, but Lehrer won’t let him.
10:24: Bipartisanship! As President, Romney will sit down with Democrats and Republicans and do stuff together and sing Kumbaya and there are SO MANY PROBLEMS and we need LEADERSHIP. Obama has a tight grin and responds by pointing out that since President Romney would repeal a bunch of laws on his first day Democrats probably wouldn’t be happy about that. Then goes over a list of good things he did, including KILLING BIN LADEN (finally he mentions it! In under the wire!). Obama points out you need to say more than just “I’ll sit down with them.” Then he says, straight-up, that Romney has no fucking balls and cowers beneath the extreme right.
10:28: Closing statements! Obama: Americans are awesome people. Mentions auto workers, because he’d be stupid not to do that. He’ll keep fighting. And he did things, even though he came in with a full order of shit sandwich.
10:30: Romney: This is the most important election ever! Either you can vote for the President, who will punch the middle class in the balls and ruin you all with his healthcare plan that is just like the one I invented, or you can vote for me, and I will fix everything by cutting taxes and not cutting any of the spending you like except I will not tell you in advance.
10:32: and that is that. It’s hard for me to grade them. Romney went strong negative where he thought he could get away with it, which was most places. Obama went more targeted-negative and then spoke more generally in positive terms about policy. I’d say this is a tie, but who knows.
Chance Obama mentions Romney’s proposed tax cut on rich people more than five times: 1-3
Chance Obama mentions that his own payroll tax cut is about to expire: 7-1 (unless in context of GOP refusing to extend, then 1-1)
Chance Obama mentions sequestration: 1-1
Chance Obama mentions cap-and-trade: 22-1
Chance Obama mentions “the Romney/Ryan plan”: 1-1
Chance Romney says Ben Bernanke should be fired: 4-1
Chance Romney refers to “qualitative easing” or “QE3″ dismissively without explaining what they are: 3-2
Chance Romney refers to his “bucket” proposal for removing itemized deductions, which is actually not the worst idea in the world: 2-1
Chance Romney mischaracterizes said proposal to make it seem more advantageous than it is: 1-2
Chance Romney explains why low tax rates on rich people will create jobs in anything approaching specifics: 37-1
Chance Romney tries to go for a Reaganesque “there you go again” moment: 1-1
Chance it works: 43-1
Over/under on number of times Romney laughs nervously: 23
Over/under on number of times Romney looks terrified: 7
Over/under on number of times Romney mentions Fast and Furious: 11
Over/under on number of times Romney mentions Romneycare: 1
Over/under on number of times Obama says “47 percent”: 19
Over/under on number of times Obama says “uh”: 124
Over/under on number of times Sean Hannity says that Obama’s “uhs” are proof he is not fit to be President: 392
(and yes, I will be liveblogging the debate tonight, after numerous requests)