Attacking Afghanistan made far more sense than to attack Iraq as George Bush did following the 9/11 attack. * I could see an attack to disrupt al Qaeda and was happy to see bin Laden killed, but questioned if we would see any long-term benefits from installing a government there. This somewhat confirms my skepticism–Afghanistan is now planning to restore the Taliban policy of stoning women for adultery:
Afghanistan is planning to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery 12 years after the Taliban was ousted from power, according to a new draft penal code.
The move has shocked human rights campaigners and will dismay donors who have poured billions of pounds into the country for reconstruction.
It will be viewed as another backwards step at the end of a year that has seen women’s rights undermined, with a slew of legislation and murders of prominent women.
Human Rights Watch called for international donors to withhold funding if the government goes ahead with the plan.
“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW…
As repulsive as both groups are, stoning is far worse than the forced vaginal probes and restrictions on reproductive rights which are supported by the American Taliban.
(* I would hope that by now the whole Truther line that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration instead of a terrorist act by al Qaeda has been forgotten. In case anyone is still interested in that nonsense, Noam Chomsky has recently joined many others in debunking that conspiracy theory. Chomsky mocked “people around who spend an hour on the Internet and think they know a lot physics.” On the other hand, that is how the Internet works. How many other people on the far right with no knowledge of biology or climate science are coming up with arguments against evolution and global warming?)
The third debate was a clear win for Barack Obama but it is too soon to determine if undecided voters saw enough to realize that Mitt Romney isn’t even ready to take a 9 a.m. call on foreign policy matters. Mitt Romney will definitely keep the fact checkers busy tonight. He tried to shake the Etch-A-Sketch tonight, changing his former views to agree with Obama on as many foreign policy issues as possible. Romney even avoided confronting Obama on Libya after learning the hard way in the second debate that the facts support Obama and not the wild claims of the right wing noise machine.
Obama was ready with both zingers and an overall condemnation of Romney’s policies:
But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.
You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq. But just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. And the — the challenge we have — I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy — but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction.
You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it. You said that, first, we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan. Then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends, which means not only were you wrong, but you were also confusing in sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.
Obama soon went further in his attack on Romney’s flip-flopping:
Governor here’s one thing I’ve learned as commander in chief. You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean. You just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still have troops in Iraq. That is not a recipe for making sure that we are taking advantage of the opportunities and meeting the challenges of the Middle East.
Romney was shaking the Etch-A-Sketch when he denied his previous support for keeping troops in Iraq (video above).
He was also trying to rewrite history when he denied saying that he considered Russia our number one geopolitical foe as he said in the video above.
Obama even tried to tie Romney to Bush and Cheney:
Both at home and abroad, he has proposed wrong and reckless policies. He’s praised George Bush as a good economic steward and Dick Cheney as somebody who’s — who shows great wisdom and judgment. And taking us back to those kinds of strategies that got us into this mess are not the way that we are going to maintain leadership in the 21st century.
The debate wandered onto domestic policy, giving Obama the opportunity to once again show that the math does not work for Romney’s economic policies:
Look, Governor Romney’s called for $5 trillion of tax cuts that he says he’s going to pay for by closing deductions. Now, the math doesn’t work, but he continues to claim that he’s going to do it. He then wants to spend another $2 trillion on military spending that our military is not asking for.
Now, keep in mind that our military spending has gone up every single year that I’ve been in office. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined; China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, you name it. The next 10. And what I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe?
And that’s the budget that we’ve put forward. But, what you can’t do is spend $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military is not asking for, $5 trillion on tax cuts. You say that you’re going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions, without naming what those loopholes and deductions are. And then somehow you’re also going to deal with the deficit that we’ve already got. The math simply doesn’t work.
Romney tried to attack Obama, and pander to ship builders in Virginia, by campaigning on an imaginary Naval Ship Gap. Obama mocked him with a Bayonet Gap:
But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works.
You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting slips. It’s what are our capabilities.
Romney was not only wrong on the principle, he was wrong on the facts. He got Three Pinocchios for his claim that the Navy is as small as in 1916.
Obama repeatedly responded to Romney’s lies, including the lie that Obama started his presidency with an apology tour:
Nothing Governor Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that’s been told during the course of this campaign. And every fact checker and every reporter who’s looked at it, Governor, has said this is not true.
Obama accused Romney of being “you’ve been all over the map” on many issues, such as going after Osama bin Laden:
When it comes to going after Osama bin Laden, you said, well, any president would make that call. But when you were a candidate in 2008, as I was, and I said if I got bin Laden in our sights I would take that shot, you said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man.
And you said we should ask Pakistan for permission. And if we had asked Pakistan permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him.
Romney tried to rewrite history on the auto bailout. I think that Mitt Romney bringing up the auto industry is like Bill Clinton discussing extra-marital sex or George Bush bringing up drunk driving. Obama didn’t let him get away with changing his position here:
The — look, I think anybody out there can check the record. Governor Romney, you keep on trying to, you know airbrush history here. You were very clear that you would not provide, government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn’t true.
Obama tried to preserve his lead in the first debate and, as a consequence of not being aggressive enough, the momentum has been going in Romney’s direction. Democratic victories in the Vice Presidential and second Presidential debate slowed that momentum, leaving Obama with a slight lead going into this debate. The question now is whether Obama’s victory in this debate will stop the movement towards Romney and preserve Obama’s slim lead, and hopefully develop some momentum for Obama.
It was another strong day for the Democrats, leading up to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. While Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, and ultimately Barack Obama dominated their evenings, there were many other strong speakers throughout the convention. The Democrats’ “second string” did a better job than the major speakers at the Republican convention. There was a wide variety of speakers, but they all showed a fundamental difference between the parties. The Democrats offer a big tent while the Republicans tell you to buy your own umbrella.
The two speakers who I have met in the past each did an excellent job. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, spoke on Obama saving the auto industry:
The entire auto industry, and the lives of over one million hard-working Americans, teetered on the edge of collapse. And with it, the whole manufacturing sector.
We looked everywhere for help. Almost nobody had the guts to help us – not the banks, not the private investors, and not Bain Capital. Then, in 2009, the cavalry arrived: our new President, Barack Obama! He organized a rescue, made the tough calls, and saved the American auto industry. Mitt Romney saw the same crisis and you know what he said: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
Sure, Mitt Romney loves our lakes and trees. He loves our cars so much, they have their own elevator. But the people who design, build, and sell those cars? Well, in Romney’s world, the cars get the elevator – the workers get the shaft. Mitt Romney says his business experience qualifies him to be President. Sure, he’s made lots of money. Good for him. But how did he make that fortune, and at whose expense? Too often, he made it at the expense of middle-class Americans.Year after year, it was profit before people.
With the auto rescue, he saved more than one million middle-class jobs all across America.
John Kerry had a strong speech on foreign policy, turning around the classic Ronald Reagan line: “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was four years ago.” Full video of Kerry’s speech is above.
Joe Biden returned to the line he has used many times: Osama bin Laden is Dead and General Motors is Alive. Biden was brilliant to tie in Romney’s position on the auto industry to the Bain way:
When I look back now on the President’s decision, I also think of another son of an automobile man–Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit. His father ran American Motors. Yet he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt. It’s not that he’s a bad guy. I’m sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. I just don’t think he understood—I just don’t think he understood what saving the automobile industry meant-to all of America. I think he saw it the Bain way. Balance sheets. Write-offs.
Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profit. But it’s not the way to lead your country from its highest office.
When things hung in the balance, the President understood it was about a lot more than the automobile industry. It was about restoring America’s pride. He knew what it would mean to leave 1 million people without hope or work if we didn’t act. He knew the message it would have sent to the rest of the world if the United States of America gave up on the industry that helped put America on the map. Conviction. Resolve.
He was similarly hard on Romney’s mistaken view on bin Laden as he described Obama’s strength:
We sat for days in the Situation Room. He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough questions. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said– “Sir, we can get this done,” I knew at that moment Barack had made his decision. His response was decisive. He said do it. And justice was done.
But Governor Romney didn’t see things that way. When he was asked about bin Laden in 2007, he said, and I quote, “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth, and spending billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person.”
He was wrong. If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the President did. And you too would have moved heaven and earth–to hunt down bin Laden, and bring him to justice.
Biden summed up the different visions offered by the two parties: “A future where we promote the private sector, not the privileged sector.” So much for more bogus Republican framing. As he demolished Romney’s poor decisions, perhaps BIden should extend his line to “Osama bin Laden is Dead, General Motors Is Alive, and Mitt is a Twitt.”
Finally the man smart enough to marry Michelle Obama (as Clinton called him yesterday) came on. It was a terrible moment for Mitt Romney. There was no empty chair. Barack Obama showed how successful he can be by campaigning on his record, demolishing a common Republican bromide. First he summarized the differences between the parties and had the best line of the evening:
Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right. They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years:
“Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.”
“Deficit too high? Try another.”
“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”
Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it – middle-class families and small businesses. But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down our deficit. I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all that we’ve been through, I don’t believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker keep his home. We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back. We’re moving forward.
Obama countered the Republican false framing that Democrats are the party of big government. Instead he explained that Democrats are the party which understands that there is a role for government:
We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.
In contrast, Obama pointed out that Republicans are the party of big government intruding in the private lives of individuals, warning about “Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves.” He promised to prevent Medicare from turning into a voucher program, to protect seniors, and to protect the middle class:
I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less.
And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care – not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it – not by turning it over to Wall Street.
This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s just the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and “borrow money from your parents.”
Republicans avoided talk about Afghanistan and supporting veterans. Obama joined other speakers in warning of the dangers of making someone as inexperienced and uninformed as Mitt Romney become Commander-in-Chief:
So now we face a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.
After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. My opponent said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq, and he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan. I have, and I will. And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want, I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work – rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home.
This election is far more about the economy than foreign policy, but will Americans elect a president who is so clearly over his head on issues of national security?
It will be interesting to see what effect this convention has on the polls. I’m not sure that there are many voters left who haven’t made up their minds to provide the types of convention bounces we have seen in the past. Romney received little to no bounce after his convention. The Democrats put on a far better convention and we will soon have an answer as to whether any convention can provide a big bounce. Gallup has shown Obama with a one point lead through the entire Republican convention and into today. As they use a seven day average it will take a few more days to see whether their is a bounce. Reuters is receiving a lot of attention in the conservative blogs for saying there has been no bounce for Obama, but this was after only one night, before the speeches by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
“What more do we want this man to do for us, honest to god.” –David Letterman re President Barack Obama, comparing Obama’s successes on fighting terror to George Bush’s failures.
“Remember the Iraq war, “mission accomplished,” well holy ****, the mission was not accomplished,” said Letterman. “They put a banner up on the SS Lincoln, George flies up on the thing. He was very cute.” –David Letterman on why it is ok for Obama to use the killing of Osama bin Laden as a campaign tool when Bush would have done the same thing.
The attacks from the right wing on Obama have become increasingly lame. Today’s attack is compounded by their inferiority complex over the decreasing numbers of people who have any interest in their views or candidates. It is possible they can win, as occurred in 2010, due to a reflexive vote against the party in office due to a poor economy, but that should not be mistaken as a real interest in conservative politicians.
This weekend’s attack line in the right-wing blogs, along with a continuation of the totally fabricated claim that Obama planned to place the blame on others if his successful raid to kill Osama bin Laden had failed, is that few turned out to his rally in Ohio. They are posting pictures such as this:
Looks sort of empty in the upper stands. They fail to point out that this picture was taken before the Obama rally began, and fail to post pictures showing far more people in the upper stands during the rally:
The truth is that President Obama drew 14,000+ in an 18,000 seat arena. It wasn’t a sellout, but it was about 13,500 more people than Romney’s largest crowd in Ohio. As the Washington Post pointed out Romney has drawn crowds of several thousand during the campaign, what they didn’t mention is that most of his thousands were bused in Mormon college students, but Obama’s crowd today was exponentially bigger than anything Mitt Romney has drawn this year.
The right wing media was trying to level the playing field. They want to erase the memory of Mitt Romney giving his big economic address to 80,000 empty seats at Ford Field in Detroit. The problem they have is that even though right wing media does, the photographs don’t lie.
Update: It wasn’t just several major conservative blogs spreading this claim. Crooks & Liars point out that George Will was doing the same on This Week. David Plouffe responded to this faux controversy by saying “we’re happy to have that debate.”
Besides the two conservative blogs running this false claim linked to above in the second paragraph, more examples can be found here , here, here, here, and here. I just thought I’d throw in some more links after receiving one of those frequent comments which are immediately removed– a conservative posing as a liberal claiming I lied here as none of the conservative blogs he reads has said this. Obviously not ever conservative blog is repeating this false attack line, but so many are that it is impossible to believe any claims that anyone who has looked at conservative blogs has not seen this. One reason for comment filters is so that we don’t waste time being distracted by conservatives utilizing tactics such as these when the time can be better devoted making arguments for liberal principles and debunking conservative falsehoods.
So let me get this right. Republicans, you’re annoyed by the arrogance and braggadocio of a wartime president’s political ad. You think he’s decisively and unfairly belittling his opponents. I see. I have a question: Are you on crack? Were you alive lo these past ten years? It seems unseemly for the president to spike the football? Bush landed on a f*ckin’ aircraft carrier with a football-stuffed codpiece. He spiked the football before the game had even started.
Former Bush campaign adviser Mark McKinnon realizes that the Republicans have fallen into a trap in attacking the ad and making the issue more prominent. Unfortunately he does have a rather selective memory as to how Republicans used 9/11 politically. Stewart’s video might help remind him of some more examples.
The Republican Party has been playing politics with terrorism since the 9/11 attack, in a manner similar to how they played politics with anti-Communism in past decades. Republicans are now upset and in denial about two things: the Democrats have been far more successful on national security and, even worse, they dare to promote their success for political gain. The web ad by Bill Clinton which points out that Barack Obama made the decision to kill bin Laden, while Mitt Romney would not have done the same, has the right wing especially upset.
Right wing blogs are full of utterly senseless arguments to deny credit to Barack Obama for his accomplishment. Many come from a rather irrational post at Breitbart.com–a site which specializes in distorting the facts to support right wing narratives. Their argument comes down to attacking Obama for wanting information on the risks involved before proceeding. This sounds quite prudent and provides no evidence of their claim this was to avoid taking the blame if the operation did not succeed. If only George Bush had not ignored warnings about the risks involved in occupying Iraq before rushing to war.
John McCain, the war-mongering jingoist who has never shown reluctance to use war for political gain, actually had the chutzpah to attack Obama for promoting his success against bin Laden. There are endless examples of McCain and the Republican Party using national security for political gain, even managing to capitalize on Bush’s massive failure on 9/11, and claiming “Mission Accomplished” as their policies failed in Iraq. Digby has provided a handful of videos demonstrating how Republicans have used national security. Far more could be added.
Just as the Republicans, who wrecked the economy and have been doing everything possible to slow down recovery, are trying to claim can do more for the economy, Republican who have gravely harmed our national security are trying to turn this into a political plus for them. It was the Republicans who tried to block Bill Clinton’s actions against al Qaeda, but despite this Clinton showed successes, such as stopping the planned Millennium terrorist plot. George Bush ignored both recommendations passed down from the Clinton administration for handling al Qaeda and ignored CIA warnings before the 9/11 attack. After ignoring numerous warnings before 9/11, Bush made matters even worse by going to war against the wrong country. Even when he had an excellent chance to kill or capture bin Laded at Tora Bora, Bush managed to mess it up.
Looking at the facts, there is really no question as to which party has been more successful in recent years, as the Republicans have increasingly ignored reality. Democrats have been successful in protecting the country against terrorism, while Republican policies led to a preventable terrorist attack succeeding and to a war which we never should have engaged in. Republican economic polices have been similarly disastrous for the country. Republicans will continue to whine and try to distort the facts, but this does not change the reality that bin Laden is Dead and General Motors is alive.
When I first heard Joe Biden use his quick pitch for the Democrats last week I was impressed that he could be so succinct: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” Steve Benen linked to a video of Biden saying this above. He also pointed out the significance of the use of this brief elevator pitch:
Democrats have traditionally struggled to craft compelling “elevator pitches” when it comes to their policies, records, and visions. But Biden’s 10-word pitch, a blunt instrument as political rhetoric goes, at least has the benefit of summarizing the points Obama for America hopes to stress: the president and his administration turned the economy around at home, and has scored high-profile national security successes abroad.
It’s seems likely the Democratic campaign will face considerable pushback if officials keep using this pitch out loud — the politicization of the bin Laden strike may prove tricky — but the fact that the likely Republican nominee opposed the policy that got the al Qaeda leader, and was inclined to “let Detroit go bankrupt,” the health of GM and demise of bin Laden at a minimum sets up the contrast the White House wants to see.
In an election year it is more important to contrast Obama’s achievements with his likely opponent, but I also cannot help but contrast this with George Bush’s record. While GM’s problems went beyond those of the economy as a whole, it was Bush who brought us to the brink of a depression. Obama’s policies prevented a depression, while Republicans would return to the same policies which got us into this economic mess. Obama is destroying al Qaeda, while Bush’s policies acted to strengthen it and placed the United States in greater danger. It was also the failure of George Bush to follow the recommendations passed on by the Clinton administration, and his failure to respond to CIA warnings of an imminent threat, which allowed the 9/11 attack to be a success.
There are a number of things which I wish Obama would do differently, but on the major issues of the day there is a clear difference between what Obama has accomplished and what the Republicans would do. There is no problem with Obama which would be improved upon by having a Republican in the White House.
I was initially disappointed in how Obama handled US involvement in Libya. Its not that his failure to obtain approval from Congress was any worse than what we have become accustomed to, but that this was an area where I had hoped to see change under Obama. At least American involvement was limited, without loss of life and, at least so far, it doesn’t look like we are going to be involved in prolonged nation-building or antagonizing people in the region. Andrew Sullivan quoted a reader:
Bush and Saddam – One Trillion dollars and thousands of US lives.
Obama and Qaddafi – One Billion dollars and zero US lives.
There’s also this score card for Obama’s foreign policy:
To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now.
One reason for Obama’s success on foreign policy–the Republicans are not able to stop him for political gain as they have been able to do on the economy.