Town Hall Debate: Ten Points

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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150 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    I’ll just repeat here what I said over at NAPP:

    When all is said and done this minor debate is going to be remembered for one moment, and one moment only:

    If you’re going to stop the debate from proceeding to call out your opponent as a liar about what he said, and repeat that accusation over and over, you damn well better make sure you know what the fish you’re talking about, because you never know when the moderator has the actual transcript in hand.

    That one moment was about as painful to watch as Obama’s entire first-debate stinkeroo performance.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      After that little exchange, Romney hurried over to his corner and looked constipated for the rest of the night. He slapped Romney down on the whole Libya thing.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      …eeeexcept that the transcript did not, in fact, say what the President and the moderator claimed it said.Report

      • Technically, it did. Romney said that Obama did not call it an act of terror prior to two weeks after the attack. Obama said he did call it an act of terror. The words “act of terror” in reference to the attack were actually said by Obama prior to fourteen days after the attack.

        What Romney was meaning to say was that Obama did not attribute the attack to terrorists (as opposed to rioters). Unfortunately for Romney, those were not the words he used.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

          “The words “act of terror” in reference to the attack”

          Quote from the transcript of the President’s Rose Garden speech, please. Make sure to quote the line that specifically cites the Benghazi attack and specifically claims that it was a terrorist action. If there is no such line, then Romney wasn’t wrong.

          Town Hall debate transcript

          “OBAMA: The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.”

          Rose Garden statement on Benghazi attacks

          Closest we get is at 4:20-ish: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation”. No direct linkage of that statement to the Benghazi consulate attack, other than its its presence in a speech regarding that attack (and note that there is indeed a statement regarding the defamation of religious belief, followed up by a statement that such defamation is not grounds for violence.)

          If the President meant to say “this attack was a terrorist act” then he should have said so, in those words.

          Besides, Susan Rice and Hilary Clinton are both members of the State Department, and rather highly-placed ones. They work for the President, and both of them were insisting that it wasn’t a terrorist act. Acting like this is some kind of Evil Republican Lie told by the Lying Liar Mitt Lie-mney is not true, not even a little. The worst you can do is say “well the President said something equivocal and other members of his administration said something completely different so you must have got the wrong idea”.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck says:

            emphasis added by me in the debate transcript quote.Report

            • Yah, that’s in the zone, Ducky. The final debate is on foreign policy. This one ain’t over.Report

              • Michelle in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Foreign policy isn’t exactly Romney’s strongpoint. If he decides to bring up the whole “Obama apology tour” lie, I hope he gets his ass handed to him.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Michelle says:

                Yeah… I don’t think the Romney team fully appreciates how many *conservatives* he loses with his neo-con/neo-liberal foreign policy nonsense.

                I’ll not go so far as to say that a majority or “true” conservatives have given up the neo-con fantasies… but the backlash is building and, for now, acts as a minor drag and vote suppression. The fact that they think it is a “safe” zone might prove the losing difference if the race comes down to the margins.Report

          • I don’t know what to say, Duck. This:

            No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

            Sounds like he is talking about what had just happened as an act of terror. That “this terrible act” is an example of the “acts of terror” he refers to earlier in the paragraph.

            Had Romney said “He refused to acknowledge that this was an act committed by terrorists rather than rioters” he would have been on more solid footing. He used the wrong words, even if his larger argument was valid.Report

            • I should add that this is something that I wanted Romney to get right, as I found the administration’s refusal to shift from rioters to actual terrorists to be supremely aggravating. Others don’t see this as a big deal, but as someone who kept going up and down saying “No, indications are this wasn’t about Terry Jones” all across Facebook and the like and having the administration saying otherwise in the face of mounting evidence, I do consider it one.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                I struggle with the notion that a full-frontal attack on a government institution with guns and bombs qualifies as “terrorism”. Is “terrorism” simply defined as “anything people we don’t like do to us”? This seemed like an act of outright war and aggression. It might not have been perpetrated by an organized and state-sponsored military. But it was not terrorism.

                And I don’t say this in favor of the administration’s handling. I say this because we’re getting straight up ignorant (strignant, if you will).Report

              • kim in reply to Kazzy says:

                An anarchist walks up to a governmental authority and shoots him. He goes to jail, but shortly thereafter get let free (after a fancy show trial).
                I’d call that terrorism, myself.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to kim says:

                Terrorism derives its name from the fact that the primary objectives of the actions are to instill terror and fear, are to make a people change their way of life for fear that harm will come to them if they don’t.

                I don’t think that is the case here.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy, I respectfully disagree. I think that was the case here, which is why I would consider it an act of terrorism.

                If it had been rioters, then the goal would primarily have been to express their emotions more kinetically.

                If it had been Gaddafi loyalists, then it’s a gray area, because it was a terrorist act in function but performed by what might still be considered a military unit.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to DensityDuck says:

            I can’t get over this concentration on what they called it of all things about this incident. And it’s broken down to a semantic squabble. This is the Republican brief against Obama on Libya? Seriously? This terrorism/something else distinction is a barely a real thing in the world – the territory doesn’t bear the weight of the symbolic marks that are being made and argued over on the map.

            There was an attack. Arguably it should have been prevented, whether by stronger security, better intelligence, both, or just not having personnel that far forward in the country yet. Isn’t that what yous guys would prefer to be talking about?Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

              (This wasn’t written to show up Will’s explanation of why it is important to him – I believe we were writing at the same time. I respect that this developed into something that bothered him, and I don’t claim it’s fully innocuous. But on policy and politics, I believe it’s a misplacement of emphasis by the Romney campaign and the Republican party to the extent they echo it. (Though the hearings, to their credit, looked beyond it at what I regard as some of the more important questions.))Report

            • To be clear, I have a broader criticism here than my conversations on Facebook.

              In the aftermath of the attacks, the administration didn’t say that it might have been related to the film. They said it was. When evidence started to mount that it was not related to the film, they didn’t say “we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that this was an orchestrated attack because we really don’t know” but rather they said “it was the film.”

              As Americans (including people here and on OTB) were suggesting that Terry Jones be arrested, they continued to blame the film. As they were trying to convince Google to take the film down, the film was still being blamed without much of a word that it might have been something else.

              Why? Either because they were so married to their original thesis that they refused to consider alternatives, which itself is problematic, or it was politically convenient to keep the conversation on the film rather than on other areas where they had liabilities. It kept the issue about what we (better yet, a segment of “we” that hates the president) did, rather than what our dedicated enemies did.

              I have issues with this. Is it the biggest possible thing pertaining to the attack? Maybe not. It appears to me, at least, to be the thing that is already in evidence. The thing that they did as we try to sort out what else they may or may not have done.

              Can this be expected to resonate with the general public? Dunno. For my own part, I don’t know where my personal aggravation ends and my broader critique begins. As you know, I think a lot about why people – including myself – believe what they do. But, for one reason or another, I wish that Romney had been able to make the point and am frustrated that he flubbed it.

              (I do get that you don’t feel the same way about this – and I appreciate that you’ve been respectful on this matter. I just wanted to make clear that this isn’t fully about Facebook for me.)Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

                Thanks for the explanation. I think part of what keeps it from taking off is that you really have to have been paying attention to what they were saying day-by-day for it to resonate. By now, they’ve corrected themselves. That’s a pretty small group of people, I think. Looking back, I just don’t think it stands out as the major thing to be concerned about relating to the events. If there was fallout for innocent people like Pastor Jones from the administration’s mistaken briefings, that definitely matters (I hadn’t heard that there was). I also agree that even if there was no intentional dissembling, if they were slow to adjust to facts as they came to light, that’s not good. It just strikes me as a marginal concern compared to the questions at the heart of the incident. I don’t know why you’d make it your lead critique of the president at this point if you’re looking to hold him to account for events in Libya.Report

              • I think part of the emphasis on the film protests was that it was largely what was bringing on the chain reactions of embassy protests in the Maghred and Middle East in general. So that it’s somewhat understandable that the Administration would focus on that first. Though granted, given that one of the first comment threads on this subject here at the League had already mentioned it was likely a coordinated, targeted attack by a militant group probably suggests State probably knew going into their statements that this wasn’t true.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’ll allow this: that this line of critique is highly specific. Political operatives know about how to push stories that can damage their opponents. It could well be that the GOP operatives have calculated that the specificity of their charge on this particular part of the story is what has the greatest likelihood of sticking to Obama and implanting in the public’s consciousness. And fair enough, if true.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Will Truman says:

                My upset stems from the White House sticking to a story they knew was completely false, lying to the American public, the UN, and people throughout the Middle East about who carried out the attack and why.

                It’s as if FDR spent the two weeks after Pearl Harbor claiming our naval base was attacked by Germans – using Zeppelins, and then finally admitted it was the Japanese, and then started denying that they’d ever claimed otherwise.Report

              • Kim in reply to George Turner says:

                Doubt this is how it worked, though I’d have to check some sources to get REAL info. Figure some folks way down low in the CIA are having some infighting, pulling some intel, pushing info up the chain of command. Then figure in a BIT of footdragging on a BIG mistake, and you get a bit of time, and then the real idea getting out.

                When someone blew up some people in India, they were VERY VERY careful not to blame it on the Pakistani at first. This is the same level of kid gloves, if perhaps very inexpertly applied.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Kim says:

                I think this is a very good point and it rings true for me.

                It’s also not the sort of thing that would be satisfactory to anyone in a format like last night’s debate.Report

              • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Sure it is. You cite the folks (if possible) who “bucked the conventional wisdom” and who didn’t let up until the truth got out.
                And then you compare it to a criminal investigation, where sometimes the Detective chases down a false lead — even announces it to the public.
                The measure of a Detective isn’t how few leads he needs to chase to get the answer — it’s how surely he gets his man. With the evidence we’ve got, we could take this to court. We weren’t going to pin it until we could make it stick.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Unfortunately, nothing that requires paying attention for an entire paragraph’s worth of argument would be satisfactory to anyone in a presidential “debate”.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

                We weren’t going to pin it until we could make it stick.

                Meanwhile, they continued to actively pin it on someone else. There is a difference between saying “We don’t want to call this a terrorist act – so hey, we’ll stick to act of terror – but we’re still investigating” and saying “case closed” and relying on the other side to prove you are wrong.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Uh huh. Meanwhile they arrested the dude who made the video in the middle of the night. It certainly sent the message to the world of a link.


                I don’t care if he was technically in violation of his parole—that picture is a disgrace to the First Amendment.Report

              • Aaron in reply to Burt Likko says:

                So, we should let people violet parole in truly spectacular fashion — such as, in this case, not being allowed to use a computer — because of … optics?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko says:

                People who violate their parole by using a computer don’t usually get dragged out of their home in the middle of the night by cops who throw a blanket over their head and stuff them in the back of a police car with blacked-out windows.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Tom and Duck, as long as Ken Popehat says that the arrest was legitimate and a matter of course for someone under his parole arrangement who made a high-profile film (regardless of the film’s content), I am inclined to give the government a benefit of the doubt on the matter. Ken is pretty consistent on such things.Report

              • Aaron in reply to Burt Likko says:

                People who violate their parole aren’t usually at the centers of several week long international firestorms.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Popehat: “I’m troubled by the Obama Administration contacting YouTube and asking them to “review” whether the “Innocence of Muslims” video violates their terms.”

                2. We should be very careful to assume a causal relationship between the video and the mob violence. It’s entirely possible — perhaps even probable — that the video is being manipulated as an excuse for violence by people who desire violence for political ends.

                So there’s that, quite relevant [esp to Romney’s initial objection to the Cairo embassy’s communique].

                As for the way the video dude was taken away in the middle of the night and this photo


                flashed all over the world, I didn’t find Mr. Popehat’s opinion on that. My opinion is that it stinks.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Tom, I was referring to this:

                Like I previously said, the use-of-computers accusation is not one that I would normally expect to result in a revocation proceeding; I’d expect him to get a warning, unless the use of computers involved fraud, or unless he was a convicted hacker. However, given Nakoula’s underlying fraud conviction and the $700,000 in restitution he owes, revocation proceedings would not surprise me at all if his probation officer determines that he used aliases and conducted undisclosed financial transactions. Remember: the limits on alias and undisclosed bank accounts isn’t only designed to prevent him from committing fraud again; it’s designed to make sure that he’s paying as much restitution as he can. In fact, I would be very surprised if a guy with such a fraud conviction who produced a movie under an alias and engaged in undisclosed financial transactions didn’t get hit with a revocation proceeding, whatever the nature of the movie.

                The circumstances in which the arrest occurred are disturbing, but I don’t know how unusual they are when they know the person they are about to arrest knows they are likely to be arrested and are theatrical by nature. I agree that it doesn’t look good.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                My upset stems from the White House sticking to a story they knew was completely false, lying to the American public, the UN, and people throughout the Middle East about who carried out the attack and why.

                This statement could have been uttered verbatim by a liberal back in 2003.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

                “In the aftermath of the attacks, the administration didn’t say that it might have been related to the film. They said it was. ”

                Make up your mind. Either they said it was a terrorist attack or they didn’t.Report

              • He said it was an act of terror, but not that it was committed by terrorists. Romney somehow found himself on the wrong side of this by saying that Obama did not call it the words he used to describe it. Had Romney said “Obama refused to acknowledge that it was committed by terrorists” I would be defending him now in an unqualified manner.

                If forced into a dichotomy that acts of terror cannot be committed by rioters, or that rioters must be considered terrorists if they commit acts of terror, then Obama should be considered more right (or less wrong) than I currently consider him to be.

                As it stands, Romney said that Obama did not call the attack an act of terror in a speech when he used those same words in a paragraph where he referred to the Banghazi attack (and did not refer to 9/11/1). He flubbed the point he was trying to make by using the wrong words.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

                “He said it was an act of terror, but not that it was committed by terrorists.”

                Wait, I thought that the response to Romney’s criticism was that quibbling over semantic distinctions is a useless diversion from the substance of the statements. Now it turns out that we need to quibble over semantic distinctions in order to show that Romney was wrong.Report

              • Wait, I thought that the response to Romney’s criticism was that quibbling over semantic distinctions is a useless diversion from the substance of the statements.

                I wouldn’t say that. I would say that Romney’s quibbling lead him to say something that was incorrect. There’s nothing wrong with being specific, just don’t be specific and wrong about the thing you are being specific about.Report

            • Troublesome Frog in reply to Michael Drew says:

              This is the Republican brief against Obama on Libya?

              At least they’re not complaining about whether our diplomats say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy holidays.” Or are they?Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to DensityDuck says:

            The worst you can say is that the president prepared a response based on the record for this pre-announced attack from the governor on an issue where if he sustained damage it would be because he actually deserved to – and deployed it so effectively that, beyond neutralizing the attack, he caused the entire exchange to be a memorably harmful moment for the governor. Meanwhile, the basis of the response he prepared was right there in the record for the governor’s campaign to observe and use to fine-tune the, again, telegraphed (well, really more like ‘we-emailed-you-a-pdf-24-hours-ago-and-also-issued-a-press-release-about-it’d) attack. That’s kind of bad. It’s really irrelevant whether this an Evil Republican Lie – I don’t see where it’s being claimed that it is. The point is that it’s not true enough to be the palpable hit its authors thought it would – and that it’s false enough to have been turned into a harmful moment for Mitt by the president.Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to Michael Drew says:

              Soft bigotry of low expectations. With the help of the moderator, the President managed to not look like a complete chump on national TV; therefore it’s a “harmful moment” for Romney.Report

              • Michelle in reply to DensityDuck says:

                When one side complains about the moderator it’s usually because they lost.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Michelle says:

                Candy Crowley was wrong 1) to jump in 2) on the facts


              • Aaron in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


                Last night:

                ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

                OBAMA: Get the transcript.

                CROWLEY: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror…

                OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

                CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

                September 12:

                No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.

                This is just sad. Are you going to make some sort of semantic, Clintonian argument for how Obama calling the attacks acts of terror on September 12 isn’t really him calling them acts of terror?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Aaron says:

                Ms. Crowley herself later said Romney was right [see link]. And playing factchecker on that particular point—not to mention being wrong—with tons of other BS flying around was simply out of line.Report

              • Aaron in reply to Aaron says:

                I don’t care what she said after the fact. What about those two facts is wrong? Romney said that Obama didn’t call the attacks “acts of terror” for two weeks. In fact, he did it the next day. Do you have something else?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Aaron says:

                It doesn’t matter. The 3rd debate is foreign policy and this is first up.Report

              • Aaron in reply to Aaron says:

                It doesn’t matter? You’re either deluded or lying, but it doesn’t matter? Alright then, I guess I know where your commitments are, then.Report

              • Kim in reply to Aaron says:


              • Aaron in reply to Aaron says:

                The really funny thing is, I was curious to see what Obama would have to say to this question, because I think it’s one of the biggest areas of opportunity for Romney — Biden didn’t really have a convincing answer for this charge during his debate, and I wanted to see if Obama had something better. I thought he was better, but there were definitely still some questions to be raised — ones that Romney could have really made hay with.

                Instead, of course, Romney decided to go with the same old “apology tour”/”won’t talk about terrorism” nonsense that he’s been saying for years now. That was as bad a move as it was an unnecessary one. The “apology tour” stuff doesn’t play outside of talk radio and the already converted because it’s self evidently nonsense. The “won’t talk about terrorism” stuff is also idiotic on its face.

                And all of that was before I read this in the NY Times this morning. I hadn’t read it on Monday, but Kevin Drum linked to it today and it more or less backs up the Obama Administration story on what was going on. It shows an administration proceeding with caution, deference to changing circumstances and prudence — all qualities notably lacking in Mitt Romney’s campaign and character, as far as I can tell. Romney could have made an argument about this — as could you, Mr. Van Dyke — but instead decided to chase errant nonsense instead. Pathetic.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Aaron says:

                I’m not going to fight with you: Candy Crowley’s walkback stands by itself. She also improperly interfered in the debate, choosing this one item where so many other debatable propositions were offered as well.

                The issue will be litigated further and more deeply in the third debate–President Obama created the mess that is Libya and stuck his ambassador there. This was not Paris or Barbados–this demanded special care and attention.

                In my opinion, this was an unacceptable carelessness on the part of the administration, and unacceptable. Many or most Americans will come to agree.Report

              • Aaron in reply to Aaron says:

                You’re not going to fight with me? Is that because you mistakenly thought this was a recipe exchange website, or because you’re flat wrong?Report

              • LWA (Lib W Attitude) in reply to Aaron says:

                “It shows an administration proceeding with caution, deference to changing circumstances and prudence …”

                There’s the nut of the conservative objection right there.


              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Aaron says:

                We’ve each had our say. The truth will out. Peace.Report

              • Ryan Noonan in reply to Aaron says:


                Fair warning: this is not worth your time or effort. Trust me.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Aaron says:

                Aaron: Keep yelling louder. Maybe if you can yell loud enough then you won’t have been wrong.Report

          • Kolohe in reply to DensityDuck says:

            well the President said something equivocal and other members of his administration said something completely different so you must have got the wrong idea

            And if Romney had actually *said* that, he might have won the Bengazi round. (on a question that was a Republican planted one*). As it is, because Romney couldn’t get a good line on the question, nor fold it into a larger narrative, he fumbled it badly – and gave Obama to do his own ‘have you no sense of decency’ thing.

            *in the same way that equal pay and gun control were Democratic planted onesReport

            • Aaron in reply to Kolohe says:

              After the disaster that was both of their answers on gun control, I hardly think you can qualify that as a Democratic plant. A liberal one, maybe, but the Democrats have entirely abandoned gun control as a legislative issue because it’s politically toxic.Report

            • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kolohe says:

              Exactly, Mr. K. But CBS Poll: Romney Wins 65-34 on Economy; CNN Poll: Romney Wins 54-40 on Economy, 49-46 on Health Care, 51-44 on Taxes, 59-36 on Deficit, 49-46 on Leadership

              The other issues are secondary if they’re even issues atall. Blahblah.Report

    • LWA (Lib W Attitude) in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Because for the modern conservative movement, foreign policy is all about striking a heroic pose, preferably while wearing a codpiece.
      Not about, like, actually getting results.

      Calling it an “act of terror” is cowardly and shameful;
      Calling it an “act of terrorism”…well, now gentlemen, THAT is bold, courageous leadership right there!Report

  2. NewDealer says:

    You are being a harsher critic than the rest of the blogosphere which seems to think of it as a big win for Obama and a poor(ish) performance for Romney. There are some exceptions and some wondering whether Obama’s good performance will help in the polls or not.

    I think he made the base happy (based on very unscientific facebook live-blogging by my friends) which is important and gave them energy. Note that most of my friends live in New York or California though.

    I don’t know what your stance on gun control and the Second Amendment is but what do you think a pro-Gun Control but not flub answer would look like?Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to NewDealer says:

      I think any pro-gun control answer is inherently a flub.

      But if you’re going to go that way, don’t open up by saying you believe in the Second Amendment and spend the rest of your answer demonstrating how false that first statement actually is.

      And if you’re going to adopt a position that varies with the particular kinds of guns under discussion, demonstrate some knowledge about guns. It wasn’t clear to me that Obama understands the difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic and it was clear to me that he cannot even begin to fathom why anyone but a criminal might want to own a powerful weapon when clearly hundreds of thousands if not millions of people do.

      If you can’t do any of that, then dodge. Talk about how your administration will support local police and how the FBI under your direction will coordinate and disseminate information to local law enforcement (as if you were the first one to think of that). E.g. Clinton, W.J., and “100,000 new police officers on the streets.”Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Burt Likko says:

        If you can’t do any of that, then dodge. Talk about how your administration will support local police and how the FBI under your direction will coordinate and disseminate information to local law enforcement (as if you were the first one to think of that). E.g. Clinton, W.J., and “100,000 new police officers on the streets.”


        It’s kind of like RTod’s critique of Mitt’s bit with the binders.

        Figure out a way to say a nice nothing at all that is non-contestable and bland, and let the next question come.

        I think the big Obama lost moment in this debate was not bringing up BP. I think he didn’t bring it up because he’s afraid of what Mitt had in the sock. As soon as he was accused of slowing drilling permits, he should have nailed that one firmly. If Mitt wants to go to town on the Gulf Oil Spill as a sign of political mishandling by the Administration (which is probably what Mitt had in the sock), I can’t see how that conversation would come out the other end without making Mitt look like a guy who supports blowouts.Report

    • Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

      PA voter here. If we’re happy, ohio’s getting good canvassers. (NY ships theirs out too, I think…)Report

  3. Roger says:

    Obama won big. Romney looked like the ass this time. It was not even close.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger says:

      I think Obama scored a definite win, not a blowout like Romney did. Say, a 57-43 win as opposed to a 70-30 by Romney.

      But how I judge things is kind of weird. And this is going to take a second. I listen via podcast to a morning radio show out of Orlando that is non-political and only talks about political issues when they become ‘mainstream’ and is fairly politically scattered (none of ’em know as much as we do, one is a moderately conservative dad, one’s an older (mid-40’s) moderately liberal guy with conservative streaks and the other two are fairly liberal guys in their 30’s, except one doesn’t think he’s a liberal even though he thinks giving more money to corporations is a bad idea and believes in gay marriage, but believes in ‘smaller government.

      Anyway, they all said Romney won the first debate with even the moderately liberal guy saying Romney had a clear statement for everything and ‘made sense’ while Obama looked out of it. They all said the VP was a draw, with Biden smiling too much, but Ryan looking stiff and kind of dweeby.Report

  4. Bill Kilgore says:

    And another thing: why do I care whether the oil that gets turned into the gas in my car was pumped from public or private land?

    The discussion of extraction on federal lands is used to argue that your claim in number 6 is inaccurate.

    The President is not all-powerful with respect to gas prices of course, but one of the ways that a President can (or could) affect the price of gas is by restricting- or enlarging- the supply of oil.

    To support the claim that this administration has done the former, people note that despite the fact that oil (and natty gas) extraction are up in the US overall during Obama’s term- largely owing to extraordinary innovation in these industries- the amount of extraction of oil and gas on federal lands during Obama’s term is down.

    You can blame Bush for not being supportive enough of the oil and gas industry (and excuse Obama for not fixing Bush’s mistakes) or argue that restricting the supply of oil doesn’t hurt gas prices. But since neither of those claims looks so good, Obama’s getting some heat in this area.

    Incredible advancements have been made in the oil and gas industries in the last decade or so. The US could be completely reshaping the worlds relationship with fossil fuels and shaping the economic and political benefits that flow therefrom, all while bringing a larger portion of the worlds total extraction into regulated environments. Instead, its most educated citizens are expressing dismay that the Federal government could ever impact the price of a given commodity.

    I blame the rap music.Report

    • I don’t think you’re going to get much traction for the idea that Bush didn’t support the oil and gas industry enough, Bill. But I would be more interested in knowing about the public/private land difference and its impact on price. I presume that the argument that extraction from public lands would reduce the price becasue an extractor can obtain a license to pump on public lands for less than the private market price is.

      If so, that sounds like corporate welfare. Shame on the government for leasing out a public asset for less than its market value.

      And isn’t the idea that we could extract all the oil we want, turn the U.S. into a net petroleum exporter, and transform the petro-economy based on the notion that sufficient assets, both human and physical, exist to extract all the oil we want, when we want it, and to move it about from field to refinery to market, in reasonably efficient and expedient ways? I don’t know that the physical realities of petro-logistics support such a notion; the transaction costs and transaction times involved are non-trivial, if not at a certain point more economically important than the product itself.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko says:

        ” I presume that the argument that extraction from public lands would reduce the price becasue an extractor can obtain a license to pump on public lands for less than the private market price is. ”

        The point is that “public lands” means areass like ANWR where drilling is legally banned. The proposed savings would result from increased supply, not reduced extraction cost.

        “I don’t know that the physical realities of petro-logistics support [turning the U.S. into a net petroleum exporter]”

        Well, when you have the President directing the Federal regulatory bureacracy to not permit things like Keystone XL that would improve the country’s petro-logistics infrastructure, it’s hard to argue that the President can’t affect gas prices.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Obama didn’t close ANWR. He failed to open it.

          Let’s suppose, hypothetically, that right now, today, Obama completely reversed himself on Keystone XL. “Keystone XL A-OK full speed ahead!” How long would it take before that pipeline would even start to affect the market? Two years? Four? More? If your argument is that something the President decides today will affect the economy as a whole four years from now, I suppose I can’t argue with that. But what can the President do to cause prices at the pump to fall today? Or even a month from now? Short of unilaterally suspending the excise tax, which I hope we can all agree would be a bad idea, I can’t think of much.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I think the argument that it would lower prices is predicated on the increased supply in the supply-demand curve. While Obama can claim that more drilling has occurred under his presidency than before, it’s less than it could be and it’s less precisely because of the lack of drilling in the arena that Obama has the most control over.

        While it’s true that at some point you run into capacity problems, there is a question as to whether or not that is the bottleneck. On the one hand, if there are companies that have lease claims on lands and are not drilling, as Obama asserts, that could be because of a lack of drilling capacity, or because the minerals in the land in question is not economically feasible at the current time. Both of those would suggest that any lack of drilling under Obama’s administration has nothing to do with Obama’s p0licies. If, however, Romney’s assertion is correct that the concerns are primarily environmental, then there is oil ready to be economically taken that is not being pursued that could be.

        That’s why this discussion matters.

        (I don’t know which is correct. I do know that environmentalism on private land and water does indeed stand in the way of drilling – and did during the Bush Administration! – that could have been up and running within 6-9 months if given the go-ahead. It’s amazing what can be done in a comparatively short period of time.)Report

        • Errr, I shouldn’t have said private land. The water doesn’t really qualify as private even if it’s not a national park. I don’t know whether the other projects I am familiar with were public or private lands. They were during the Bush Administration, so it is at least theoretically possible that Bush was tougher on would-be drillers than Obama is.Report

        • Ramblin' Rod in reply to Will Truman says:

          I think the argument that it would lower prices is predicated on the increased supply in the supply-demand curve.

          Yes. BUT… both the markets for crude oil and refined products are global. As such, the prices of both commodities that are experienced by the drillers and refiners, and the prices we pay for gas and diesel at the pump reflect the prices of those commodities on the world market. That’s an inescapable consequence of free trade policies. (Note: not making a judgement here on the wisdom or lack thereof of such policies.) The largest single export product of the U.S. is, or at least recently was, refined gasoline, so I’m not seeing production capacity as being the primary driver of the current price of gas.

          Now the dynamics of the natural gas markets are more local/regional in character because most gas is transported via pipeline. A world market for LNG exists but the costs of liquefaction and transportation add significantly to the $/BTU so it’s not much of a competitor for the pipeline gas markets.Report

          • The largest single export product of the U.S. is, or at least recently was, refined gasoline, so I’m not seeing production capacity as being the primary driver of the current price of gas.

            Oh, that much is true. The actual affect it would have on gas would be relatively marginal compared to other factors. But decisions to drill, and not drill, do have some effect on the fringes of things. I was mostly pointing to where the effect would come from.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will Truman says:

          While it’s true that at some point you run into capacity problems, there is a question as to whether or not that is the bottleneck.

          Not really. I’m in CA so I’m somewhat intimately aware of the gasoline production cycle and how it’s affected by refining capacity.

          The bottleneck is absolutely at the refinery.Report

          • Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            and they won’t build more, because no profit in them.Report

          • California is a particular case, since it relies mostly on its own refineries. As it stands, refineries are closing down nationwide. Considering the money there is in oil and gas right now, it’s peculiar to leave the bottleneck on the table when you have that much control over production. (And it’s not a matter of closing them down so that you can make more profit with your other refineries – refineries are being closed and sold by companies getting out of the refining business).Report


      Oil production fluctuated widely in the past five years, thus giving different results when comparing years. For example, when comparing 2010 with 2007, the federal share of the increase over 2007 was about 72% of the total. On federal lands, there was also an increase in production from 2008-2009 and another increase in 2010 (258,000 b/d), then a decline in 2011. Overall, oil production on federal lands is up slightly in 2011 when compared to 2007.

      And from the numbers:
      Federal Land Production (bpd)
      2007: 1,695,000
      2008: 1,552,000
      2009: 1,731,000
      2010: 1,989,000
      2011: 1,714,000

      Surprised there was no mention of Deepwater Horizon, honestly, as that really should also be a discussion when we’re talking off-shore reserves, at least.

      Do like the sleight of hand with “oil and gas” though.Report

      • In case my last point was kind of oblique.

        Gas production and its logistics have changed substantially over just the past 5 years due to fraking.

        There’s a good reason TransCanada is dragging its feet now with the pipeline contract it got in Alaska: with the collapse in natural gas prices, it’s simply not as attractive as it used to be.Report

    • LWA (Lib W Attitude) in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

      Gas prices are an issue that both parties can’t answer satisfactorily, because there is no answer that will satisfy the American public.
      People want low gas prices, period.

      Except even if we could press forward with a massive expansion of petroleum production, it wouldn’t reduce prices by any appreciable amount, AND, what is obvious, but not pleasant to face, is that petroleum is a dwindling resource, and the logner we satiate ourselves by making it cheap, the worse we will be when we finally have to face the music.

      Obama gets that, but he can’t get re-elected by saying so. No one can.Report

  5. Michelle says:

    Obama did what he needed to do and clearly got under Romney’s skin. Unlikeable Mitt returned, bullying Candy Crawford (who, to her credit didn’t let Mitt bulldoze her), rushing over to Obama’s side of the stage to lecture the President on what’s in his pension, and blurting out “government doesn’t create jobs” twice after the debate was over because he just had to get the last word in. In short, he was the douchenozzle we’ve seen so often on the campaign trail.

    And the whole “binders full of women” comment. It’s already become an Internet meme. Can’t wait to see what Jon Stewart does with that one.

    All told, while Romney did a better job than Obama did in the first today, he still lost big time.Report

    • Kim in reply to Michelle says:

      You almost wouldn’t know that Obama’s an introvert, would ya?
      Debates are his weakness (he’s about the worst debater we’ve seen on TV
      running for president).

      Romney’s weakness is getting trolled. And Obama seems to have mastered
      the suckerpunch, without looking like a dick while doing it.Report

  6. Jesse Ewiak says:

    Also, ancedote isn’t data, but I saw this on another board and I thought it was hilarious.

    “It was when President Obama said that Governor Romney’s budget math doesn’t add up. He responds with “It absolutely does add up.”

    The 4 year old watching the debate with the three of us adults stands up, gestures dramatically to the TV screen, and yells “SHOW ME THE MATH!”Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      Jesse – a friendly correction I thought of making when you said that before, and now will: anecdotes are data. An anecdote is a datum; anecdotes are data. They aren’t systematic, representative data that mean broad things about large populations, but they’re data; they’re info.Report

  7. Burt Likko says:

    Thanks to commenters for gently pointing out typos and misspellings.Report

  8. DensityDuck says:

    “The President cannot affect gas prices.”

    Apparently you were asleep during 2008, when the price of gas was seen as the only evidence we needed for why George W. Bush was the worst President since King George III.

    “Of course China manipulates its currency, Governor Romney. So does the United States.”

    Although presumably the United States government’s currency manipulations are not intended to destroy the manufacturing base of foreign competitors.

    Oh, you’re posting a link to an article? That’s so cute. I bet it’s one of those articles about how manufacturing in the USA is totally stronger than it’s ever been. Note how the article makes some sideways mention of “advanced technology”, which is a code word for “remember how there used to be twenty guys working here who each had the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in training? Now there’s three: one guy who dumps plastic in the hopper, one guy who stacks finished parts in the shipping boxes, and one guy who cleans the injector ports every few hours.”

    Or maybe it’s an article about how ConSomeCo is just begging for skilled engineers. Buried in the fifth or sixth paragraph is a note that ConSomeCo is in Midlanowear, Nebraska; that they’re insisting on five-plus years experience in the exact software and processes used, no on-the-job training allowed; and they’re paying eighty percent of the market rate with no relocation assistance.Report

  9. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    “Obama on pay equity for women: let’s talk about student loans instead, and let me use my lovely daughters as political props. Romney on pay equity for women: I invented flex-time!”

    Not what I heard. I heard Obama talk about the Lily Ledbetter Act, which is specifically about pay equity, and say that Romney was opposed to it (which Romney did not contradict). In the extra time, Obama went on to talk about the OTHER ways his administration helped women — day care and Planned Parenthood are major concerns for poor and middle class women.

    But you got Romney’s response correct, so only half-off.Report

    • You’re right that Obama did discuss the Ledbetter Act, fairly substantially, and you’re kind of right about what the Ledbetter Act does: it supercedes a Supreme Court decision narrowly interpreting the extent of a remedy available under pre-existing legislation. While Ledbetter actually makes a big difference to people like me who practice employment law, because it enlarges the available remedy for a proven equal pay violation, it’s not like it created a new cause of action: pay differentials based on sex were always actionable before and after the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case, before and after the Ledbetter Act was signed into law.

      I think I got frustrated with that in part because Ledbetter was not such a big deal from a policy perspective, and in part because talking about the question was asked in the future tense: “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” Obama responded to a question about “what will you do” with an answer talking about something he had previously done. When Obama moved off of “This is what I’ve done already” to “This is what I want to do in the future,” it was student loans.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Just curious… is there any political response that might focus on providing a family living wage to a single wage earner so that families might have the flexibility to opt out of the two-income trap?Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Marchmaine says:

          See, I find that question fascinating because it implies that such a policy isn’t ridiculous on it’s face. And I agree that it isn’t. But for some reason I think a question, if not framed with great care and deference to those Who Know Better, would elicit howls of laughter rather than a serious response.

          And even if a serious response was forthcoming, it would be expressed between exasperated sighs.Report

        • Kim in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Sure. But that’s Santorum’s answer. 😉Report

  10. James K says:

    Of course China manipulates its currency, Governor Romney. So does the United States. We use this thing called the Federal Reserve to manipulate our money supply so as to guide the economy as a whole towards a desired result (e.g., low inflation). So does every other nation in the world with a centralized bank. Starting a tariff war with China will not be good for the American economy.

    And the really funny part is that the US is a beneficiary of their manipulations, what they are doing is equivalent to buying goods from their manufacturers (with tax money) and giving them to American consumers.Report

    • North in reply to James K says:

      Precisely. I usually put it as China is running a lemonade stand, giving the US a 50% off discount AND lending us the money to buy the lemonade.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to James K says:

      If you see “money” as a shared illusion and “goods” as “wealth”, you see two dynamics going on at the same time:

      They’re making stuff for us for free.

      They’re building factories hand over fist. If we needed to make, say, 500 tanks in the next year, I don’t know that we’d be able to do it. If they needed to, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t need the year.Report

      • James K in reply to Jaybird says:

        The failure to see money as an illusion has bedevilled the ability of noon-economists to understand how trade works for over 200 years.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

        On the upside, our tanks are worth about 50 of theirs, and more to the point our F-15s are still better planes than anything the Chinese air force puts into the air, so our tanks could be worth 1 of theirs and we’d still have a pretty significant competitive advantage on that score.

        Not that it matters, as we’re both nuclear and that renders that comparison of marginal utility.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          ” our tanks are worth about 50 of theirs, and more to the point our F-15s are still better planes than anything the Chinese air force puts into the air”

          That’s really not true, not even a little.

          “Not that it matters, as we’re both nuclear and that renders that comparison of marginal utility.”

          That would matter if we were willing to nuke Beijing over Chinese human-rights violations in the Sudan.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

            We’re going to use tanks over Chinese human-rights violations in the Sudan?Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

            I’ll accept chastisement on the grounds that the Type99 is a competitive tank to the M1. One can argue the 96 is comparable.

            China has 200 of the first and 1500 of the second, we have about 9000 M1s.

            The J-8 and J-7 still make up the bulk of China’s airforce.Report

  11. Shazbot3 says:

    China’s currency manipulation weakens the purchasing power of average Chinese workers. If China didn’t manipulate currency, they’d buy more food, consumer goods, cars, and…. gasoline, inflating the global price of a lot pf goods.

    Ironically, the best way to keep gas prices down is to ask the Chinese for more artificial currency deflation.

    That said, China’s currency deflation does help them steal low paying jobs and manufacturing, and has helped them industrialize, which is a good thing in so many ways. On the other hand, it means Chinese workers don’t buy imported goods as much as they could, too.

    Currency manipulation is a mixed bag.Report

  12. Shazbot3 says:

    I also wonder how Romney will force or convince the Chinese to stop a policy they seem pretty serious about.

    Is it:

    a. Trade war?

    b. Tough talk, a la Reagan, that is so tough sounding and Amurican that the Chinese just give up, magically? I call this Reagan-magic talk. (It’s similar to Captain Kirk’s magic talking ability to destroy any computer/robot just by talking to it and his ability to convince any aliens in less than 30 seconds that their entire way of life and all of their life plans are completely misguided.)

    c. The old ultra-violence? (Don’t put this past the neo-conservatives.)

    d. International court? (Good luck)

    e. Nothing.

    I’m gonna go with b., but some small measure of c. (buildup in Taiwan or something) could happen.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      He just is, okay? Why do you have to spoil Romney’s fun by demanding specifics.

      We all know that once the Chinese see him in charge, they’ll magically let the RMB accumulate value.

      (Nevermind that slow RMB accumulation seems to be their strategy right now anyway)Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      Though in Obama’s response, he accepted the premise of the question (that China’s manipulation exists and the President can do something about it), taking credit for the 11% depreciation of the Yuan (Renminbi? I always get confused on what term to use) over his term.Report

  13. DBrown says:

    President Obama just spanked TVD …oops, I mean Ex-Gov Romney.Report

  14. Kolohe says:

    Obama was able to balance offense and defense on nearly every round better than Romney did. Romney is fine when he’s criticizing Obama’s record but isn’t a good when putting forth his own proposals (probably because there’s not as much there there)

    Romney scored the decisive own-goals by arguing about the rules too many times. As Kevin Pollak explained in A Few Good Men, you raise your objection only once. After that you look weak, if not like an ass.Report

  15. Kolohe says:

    I will say, as someone who’s been in middle management in a large enterprise for many years, who has been to many an EEO training (and a white guy) I actually do appreciate Romney’s answer on the equal pay question. The question was a trap, and other middle management urban area mushy moderates* will understand that that is the answer you give, whatever you believe, and may find sympathy with Romney.

    *who were Rockefeller Republicans for most of 20th century, and now are either ‘Independents’ or squishy Democrats.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe says:

      This is interesting, because I thought Romney handled the question poorly. He tells this story of questionable veracity about unliaterally doing what looks for all the world like affirmative action for women so that some women could have high-ranking jobs in his gubernatorial administration. Note that I’m not saying this was a bad thing for him to have done, but I am saying it doesn’t do much to indicate what he would do in the future as President on the subject of pay equity.

      Then he said that under his Administration, we’re going to have an economy so strong that there’ll be a labor shortage, which will drive up wages and thus women who work will make more money. Which again is not necessarily a bad thing to shoot for attaining, but it doesn’t answer the question: if market forces for labor cause wages to rise, great, but that doesn’t mean that women will stand on an equal footing with men when it comes time to negotiate pay, it just means that everyone will get more than they’re getting now. Assuming the truth of the statistic quoted by the questioner, where a man makes $15.00 an hour, a woman makes $10.80. If in the future, the man makes $17.50 an hour and the woman makes $12.00 an hour, they are both making more money, but the pay equity facet of that situation will have worsened. Romeny didn’t address that at all. (Nor did he address the issue of inflation as a reciprocal effect of rising wages potentially depressing the purchasing power of these increased wages, which again might turn out to be a mixed bag rather than just a bad thing.)Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Well, the other side of the coin is that L’Act du Lilly Ledbetter doen’t really do much about pay equity either – it fixed a glitch in standing that made it virtually impossible to bring a case. (which is why is was able to pass on the very first day – though it’s a bit vexing why Bush didn’t just sign it on his way out). (not really vexing)

        Obama’s answer hit the easy lay-up of Ledbetter, with a (more on point than usual) anecodote about an awesome American he knows, and then does his own non-sequitor about Pell Grants. Even anti-sequitor, perhaps, if you consider these days there are now more women earning undergraduate degrees than men.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

          Which I see now was also mentioned above.

          What I also believe is that there was very little chance he was coached or prepped for a pay equity question, so what we saw was the ‘real’ Romney. (in contrast with say, a Bengazi question, which everyone expected, but he was overcoached and blew it).

          I would also say the only way Romney would have handled the question poorly is if he would have questioned the premise of the question or the exact stat. Both of which can be done, but last night was not the forum, and Romney is not the man to do it.Report

  16. zic says:

    On point #3, pay equity for women:

    Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Law. He’s already made pay equity the law of the land, no matter how long it takes you to discover the pay is inequitable.

    When Romney was asked about Lilly Ledbetter, his response was, “I’ll get back to you on that.” And we’re still waiting.Report

  17. b-psycho says:

    re: the following:

    Of course China manipulates its currency, Governor Romney. So does the United States. We use this thing called the Federal Reserve to manipulate our money supply so as to guide the economy as a whole towards a desired result (e.g., low inflation). So does every other nation in the world with a centralized bank.

    Their remarks on China make even less sense when you consider that by saying Chinese money is undervalued compared to the US Dollar they’re simultaneously saying the dollar is overvalued. They just can’t outright say that because Romney has to deal with a strain of quasi-goldbuggery among the hardcores of his base & Obama would basically be saying to the much-lauded “middle class” that the prices of stuff they buy should generally go up (more than it has, anyway).Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to b-psycho says:

      And no one wants to go out on the campaign trail and say “The dollar is too strong. I want to weaken it.” Even if that’s what they really want to do.Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Weakening the dollar would be a disastrous policy and I don’t think anyone actually wants to do this.Report

        • Plinko in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          I’ve seen plenty of people arguing that we need to engage in a sort of de facto devaluation via an increase in the money supply.

          I’m not sure if that’s what you mean by ‘weakening’ but I think a lot of people out there would call it just that.Report

          • Ryan Noonan in reply to Plinko says:

            Yeah, no kidding. This is virtually the standard position of half of the internet (the other half wants the gold standard).Report

            • b-psycho in reply to Ryan Noonan says:


              BTW: I’m more worried about why the money supply moves and for whose benefit than the mere fact that it does indeed move. I’m not on board with further easing because there’s plenty of money out there, the problem is where it tends to collect. With the financial system we have now, I wouldn’t recommend trusting the Fed further than you could throw it.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to b-psycho says:

                When you say that there’s “plenty” of money out there, how did you determine the appropriate money supply? I see this claim a lot in this context, but I don’t usually see a good model to support it.

                When you say “plenty” do you mean that it’s the right amount (i.e. reducing it slightly would be incorrect just as increasing it would be), or is money too loose?Report

              • The financial crisis that led to current economic conditions was the end result of structural shifts in the economy that made the FIRE sector way more relevant & powerful than they otherwise would have been, with ever larger share of economic gains collecting in the heights of finance rather than wage growth, & debt for the general public going from the occasional burden to a necessity of life itself. The economic system as we know it is rigged at the moment.

                When I say there’s plenty of money, imagine it as if I’m gesturing in the direction of the bankers & related finance wizards that blew it & yet still hold billions. Were it not for them & the complicity of the government & the Federal Reserve in this, perhaps the textbook question of whether money in general is too tight or too loose could actually be relevant. As it is now though, money is too tight for us and too loose for them. When the body looked to for monetary policy is deeply and inherently corrupt, more action from them is just more cocaine for finance, it’s not like it’s going to reach our pockets.Report

              • Kim in reply to b-psycho says:

                And we still don’t know how much Gold we got!
                Private trades that are obfuscated from real markets make for bad estimates of money supply.Report

          • Kim in reply to Plinko says:

            and meanwhile our economy improves at the expense of europe’s.Report

          • Nob Akimoto in reply to Plinko says:

            A coordinated devaluation of the dollar relative to the RMB would have enormous impacts on the price of commodities and also clamp down on consumption as imports become substantially more expensive.

            Ask Chinese consumers how well they’re doing lately.

            More broadly, it’s actually a slightly different question than the liquidity available in the economy, where QE substantially increases the money supplyReport

            • Plinko in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

              That’s why it’s de facto via QE-type intervention, not true coordinated devaluing.

              Of course, given enough increase, the same negative side effects are going to occur. So far, not enough QE has happened to do much more than make up for the huge bite that Basel III took out. It looks like QE3 might put us ahead for a change, though I doubt it will be all that much when all is said and done.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Nob, you haven’t been reading Scott Sumner’s blog, it seems. His whole focus is on increasing the money supply to meet an NGDP target.Report

          • As far as I’m aware, Sumner hasn’t advocated devaluing the USD to the point where US exports would be cost competitive to RMB based manufacturing.

            Maybe I’m taking far too restricted an approach on this definition of weakening.Report

            • Troublesome Frog in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

              Since domestic monetary policy and exchange rates with any given foreign currency don’t necessarily move together, so I don’t think it makes sense to use the phrase “weakening” for both without being very careful about what you mean. There’s a big difference between trading dollars for dollar denominated government debt and trading dollars for foreign currency.

              Of course in political debates, a strong dollar means, “A big swinging manly currency that everybody else in the world oos and aahs over.” It’s good for its own sake, regardless of how you define it or what its consequences are. Kind of along the lines of, Hanoi Unveils Larger Dong. It’s something we can all get behind, right?Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

              Nob, if you’re specifically focusing on a coordinated devaluation vis a vis a specific currency, I’m with you.

              On the more general issue of currency devaluation, Sumner, at least, is arguing for it, and of course it could–should–mean some devaluation relative to the Renminbi, unless of course China is willing to further devalue. I may have misunderstood your original point. But I agree that getting our panties in a wad over the Renminbi’s value is foolish.Report

  18. LarryM says:

    Three thoughts on foreign policy going forward:

    (1) On the very specific question of the use of “terror” in the Rose Garden speech, I hope, as someone who .. well doesn’t so much want Obama to win as much as he wants Romney to lose … that the Romney campaign wastes time and energy doubling down on the point. On that particular point, only an uncharitable reading of the speech supports Romney’s point, and those disposed to adopt such a reading weren’t voting for Obama anyway.

    (2) On the Libya attacks more generally, it may indeed pay for Romney to revisit that issue, but less ineptly. My gut feeling is that there isn’t much there, but there is probably something, and maybe more there even than I believe to be the case. Of course, Romney remains somewhat handicapped on this issue by the fact that bringing it up reminds voters of his initial response.

    (3) On foreign policy writ large, assuming Romney doesn’t move sharply to the center (IMO extremely unlikely), this is his worst issue for persuadable moderates. He wins with those people (if he wins) on the economy and by projecting an aura of competent executive who will fix our various problems, fiscal and otherwise. (I don’t buy that, but he can sell that.) Foreign policy, OTOH, is an area where, as much as he appeals to a significant portion of the base, he is out of step with the broad middle. The apology tour stuff plays to the base, not moderates, and his bellicosity is out of step with a somewhat war weary majority. Add to that the fact that his inexperience often shows – he just can’t project the same appearance of knowledge and expertise on foreign policy that he can project on domestic issues – and this is probably his weakest area with regard to persuadable moderates.Report