Archive for the ‘2012 Presidential Election’ Category
By this point in the election stretch-run committed Democrats’ fingernails are gone, having long been gnawed down to the raw pink flesh that is exposed to the elements only every four years. Yes, these peaceful transfers of power—the pride and joy of democracy in America—wreak havoc on politic junkies’ personal health and hygiene. It’s part of the beauty, actually; no other spectator sport in America affects us so physically.
But this year it’s worse.
After the Republican party chose to nominate a Polygamist Robot and a Maniac with Good Hair as candidates for president, Democrats worldwide let out a sigh of relief and headed off to yoga class. They had this one in the bag. Democrats don’t need much of a memory to remember what happens when you nominate a flip-flopping and wealthy politician from Massachusetts and a young idealist with a $400 haircut to run against the President of the United States. You lose handily, no questions asked. Incumbents have the advantage, especially against robots.
As Democrats gathered around coffee tables adorned with micro-brewed beers and gluten-free pretzels to watch the first presidential debate, there was a palpable sense of victory in the air. With their team heavily favored and playing at home—and the Republicans starting a backup Quarterback—the assumption was that Obama emerging victorious and flashing his million-dollar smile was all but a given.
What followed was horrific. The free-range pretzels sat and staled while wide-mouthed democrats lost their appetites watching Obama punt on every possession. Three-and-out after three-and-out after three-and-out. Obama looked inexperienced and unprepared, like Russel Williams against the Packers, only this time the replacement refs weren’t around to bail anybody out. The President forfeited this one.
For a man widely considered to be a pro-bowl orator, a losing streak against Romney would be nothing short of devastating. Obama’s back is against the wall; he has no choice but to come out with his cross hairs fixed on his opponent’s shortcomings: vague policies painted with a broad stroke, an articulated distaste for almost half of the country, and a depressingly humorless disposition. For Obama, tonight is a must-win. Failing to secure victory here means that, in a best-case scenario, Obama comes out of his three debates with a 33% winning percentage. And if that’s the case, he can kiss his lame-duck postseason goodbye.
What everyone is talking about is the big surprise that Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney came out and didn’t look stupid. In fact, most people across the media are saying that Romney won the debate last night. Everyone knows this debate meant a lot more for the presidential hopeful than it did Obama with the polls showing Romney at a disadvantage. In American politics any disadvantage can be severe because most voters have already made up their minds before the debates even begin.
On top of the fact that most people think Romney came out on top last night, two other aspects of the debate really stuck out. One is that the two candidates kept cutting off the moderator and sometimes just flat out ignoring him. This brought a lot of controversy because his job is to keep control over the debate and make it fair. He definitely didn’t do his job last night.
The other thing that really stuck out and has now gone viral in social media is Romney’s promise to cut PBS. We understand that he does have a conservative base that he has to appeal to but aren’t there a bunch of more pressing issues than the funds used for public broadcasting on television. This actually provides a service to communities that many find useful. Even if it were the case that he wants to cut PBS, why even talk about it in a debate? It seems like this should have been a huge misstep for the presidential hopeful, but the public has already decided that Romney won so I guess we should just go with that.
There are still more debates to come so it’s far from over and it will be interesting to see what the polls look like after this “win” for Romney. In all likelihood it will have no affect on the polls, just like everything else has had no affect. People have already decided and that’s why the polls today are just how they were over a year ago. Not much has changed and probably wont, but we do get a fun spectacle to watch and pretend we actually have a choice in the American Presidency.
The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, announced Tuesday that it would cease operations in Russia at the insistence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The announcement comes after months of disagreements between the two former Cold War rivals as well as Russian criticism of American democracy development programs within its borders. President Putin has openly blamed USAID programs for the protests that followed his most recent reelection.
The announcement also comes on the heels of a string of criticisms leveled at Obama by his political rival, Mitt Romney, asserting that the President’s stated plans to “reset” and normalize relations with Russia have been unsuccessful. Adding to this line of criticism is conservative Soviet specialist and executive director of Freedom House, a democracy advocacy group, David J. Kramer.
“For USAID to up and leave Russia simply because Vladimir Putin asked us to do so is a betrayal of our decades-long support not only for grassroots human rights defenders, civil society, and development of the rule of law in Russia but also for assistance in areas like improving public health and the environment,” Kramer said after USAID’s announcement. “This decision sets a dangerous precedent and suggests that U.S. support for civil society ends when repressive governments apply pressure.
Kramer and Romney are correct that President Obama’s plans to improve relations with Eurasia’s largest country have stalled. It should be noted, however, that President Putin has taken on a posture which prevents cooperation between the two nations. Most notably, Russia has blocked any U.N. statement condemning al-Assad’s regime in Syria and has warned the West against intervening to help the opposition in Damascus.
Putin’s apparent lack of commitment to democracy, evidenced by the circumstances surrounding his reelection in March, is an additional factor in the tension between Russia and the U.S. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the election sharply, saying “The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia… there was no real competition… the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.” Even worse was Putin’s reaction to protests.
None of this trumps the fact that Putin is president of Russia. Nor does any of it supersede the notion of sovereignty. When the president of a sovereign nation asks you to leave, especially a president as strong-handed as Putin, you leave.
Conservatives will point to this as Obama’s weakness and naïveté in international affairs. They will use grandiose terms like “American Superiority” and suggest that they can return the nation to the days of a “strong America.” The real naïveté, however, is failing to recognize that America is not in the same position as the “strong America” they remember from the height of the Cold War. The current America is war-weary and resource-poor. This America, the America of 2012, is in no position to engage in a conflict with Russia, and the expulsion of a USAID democracy-building mission that has obviously done little-to-no good is not the reason to do that.
America finds itself in a position in which it has to pick its battles. Governor Romney and his conservative cronies would do well for themselves in recognizing that.
In an attempt to strengthen the economy, the private Federal Reserve Bank has decided to buy up $40 billion in mortgage backed securities every month until they see the economy improve to the point they are satisfied. In Bernanke’s statements he has said that if the purchases do not work the FED will continue buying bonds every month until the results are positive in accordance with their goals.
The FED officials have stated that they see positive growth in the housing market as it is still trying to recover from the housing market boom and bust created by the government forcing companies to make bad loans. When the market adjusted itself, just as any artificially created bubble, the market burst and we had a huge crisis on our hands. Then the same banks charged with making the bad loans are the same banks that hold stock in the FED and that’s who ultimately bailed out those very same banks.
When the FED does anything to control natural market conditions something bad happens but we’ve come so far in our economic troubles that they seem almost necessary to keep things above water. We have dug ourselves so deep that the very thing causing problems in our economy is the same thing that can help us out of our pitfall disaster.
The FED buying up these bonds will help the economy in the short run, which will probably be just long enough to call Barack Obama’s presidency a success. However, in the long run when financial institutions artificially prop up a failing economy we are just putting off reality for a bit longer and the next time it crumbles it will be much worse.
Neither presidential candidate has a spending solution that would cut back on our nations debt. In fact, both candidates project more spending and more debt, driven by the private Federal Reserve banking system.
While Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each throw lavish, corporation-sponsored parties in the Southern United States, Syria remains embroiled in the bloodiest civil war Planet Earth has seen in some time. The President (and the media, of course) is (are) so fully distracted by his competition with Governor Romney that the images of devastation and tragedy in Syria reach a wholly insignificant slice of the American public. As such, there is very little awareness of the ongoing war and even less discussion about how it affects our interests in the Middle East. It would be shortsighted to argue for United States intervention in yet another Arab civil war. Civil wars are like the flu: the only solution is to let it do its damage until it reaches an end-point naturally. However, also like the flu, it is quite possible to mitigate many of its most discomforting symptoms.
It is the symptom-relief that gets lost in the pomp and circumstance of our political party time. As Obama strategizes on how to differentiate himself from Mitt Romney in a believable manner, women and children drown as they try to escape their war-torn home country. The leader of the free world, someone who believed so strongly in protecting the people of Libya just months ago, has offered no meaningful utterance concerning the humanitarian disaster that constitutes day-to-day life in Syria. Mr. Obama surely will not suffer electoral consequences of this policy omission, he will suffer a hit to his international credibility—something he (nor any American president over the next 20 years) can afford to endure.
The United States’ international reputation is tarnished not only by our lack of efforts to establish humanitarian aid for the Syrian people, but also the perception in the Middle East that nations can behave largely as they please while the Big Bully’s back is turned. Iran is (and has been) sending military aid to the Assad regime in Syria; and using Iraqi air space to do it.
Iraq, recipient of more than $1.68 billion in U.S. foreign aid, is allowing the United States’ most dangerous enemy to transport weapons across its airspace to a violent dictator. This behavior would almost certainly draw the public ire of our Commander-in-Chief during any other time on the American political calendar. but during election season? Water under the bridge. Or off a duck’s back. Pick one, whatever.
Obama’s apparent inability to focus on anything other than beating the least viable presidential candidate since John Kerry is an unflattering comment about his confidence in this election. The only people in America who believe that The Mormon Robot & Tea-Party Liar ticket can win this election are Barack Obama and Ann Romney. Even Janna Ryan is politely going along with the whole charade, looking forward to the day when she can watch her back-log of Desperate Housewives on the DVR.
The situation in Syria is getting worse. Obama will almost certainly mop the floor with his rival in a foreign policy debate, though his response to a direct attack from Romney concerning his willingness to help the people of Libya but not Syria will be interesting. Obama’s election tunnel vision is doing him and the Syrian people disservice. Without America’s leadership, the Western nations have largely dropped the ball on handling Syria and assisting its people. This threatens the Syrian people by emboldening their violent leader; allowing him to believe that he can threaten the West with use of chemical agents with no consequence. Obama, on the other hand, has been campaigning for months. The attention-deficit American people can scarcely conjure an image of the man without his sleeves rolled up and a microphone in his hand. The danger here is that the longer the President forgets to act like the leader of the free world, the shorter the time he might have in that position.