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I apologize to my international readers who don't follow American politics, but as Emergency Backup Leader (EBL) I feel it is my duty to give my opinion on last night's presidential debate.

I didn't watch the entire debate but I tuned in just in time to watch Mitt Romney use the President of the United States as a bar rag. I wondered if I was the only viewer who was thinking that one of the worst public speakers of all time was drop-kicking one of the best speakers of all time, but I see today that most pundits agreed on two points:

  1. Romney lied 500% more than President Obama.
  2. Romney totally won the debate.

That tells you everything you need to know about the value of presidential debates. Sure, the fact-checkers weighed in afterwards, but by then the damage was done. Truth is literally an afterthought in politics, and apparently overrated.

The thing that impressed me most about Romney's performance is that he invented an entirely new class of political lie that I have named the pre-flop. It's a vast improvement over his old flip-flopping ways. With the traditional flip-flop the thing you say today is the reverse of what you said in the past, and that can bite you in the ass. The pre-flop is a brilliant innovation that combines the flip and the flop in the same pledge. Allow me to paraphrase the debate to illustrate.

Romney: My economic plan is (blah, blah)

President Obama: Economists say your plan will increase the deficit by $5 trillion.

Romney: I keep telling you that I won't do anything that increases the deficit.

See? The flip-flop is built right into the campaign promise. It's an unmistakable wink to independent voters that he plans to be a pragmatist. Pragmatism looks like flip-flopping because it requires opinions to change as the situation and the available information change. It also means you'll lie to get elected, but it's just a strategy, and everyone does it, so don't worry.

I think Romney has a hypnotist for an advisor, or at least someone skilled in the dark arts of psychology and influence. I just watched him repeatedly lie to me and came away thinking he'd be a good choice for managing the economy. I'm not saying he actually would be a good choice, but he did something impressive: He made me think he wouldn't cut taxes at the same time he told his base he would. As a trained hypnotist myself, I rank his debate performance as breathtakingly brilliant. (Seriously.)

Meanwhile, President Obama was learning the hard way that the worst time to have anniversary sex is right before a debate. He looked a bit too relaxed. I think he should have lit a cigarette, taken a long puff, exhaled, and told the crowd that Romney would do for the country what the President just did for the First Lady. That would be totally bad ass. Then he could toss in a zinger about how awesome the sex was right after killing Bin Laden. I think we all know that evening was ear muff time for the Secret Service.

Jim Lehrer, who apparently died several months ago, moderated the debate. The pundits have been harsh on him today. But who else do you hire for the first debate? Do you hire someone who works for a Republican news network or someone from a Democrat news networks? Apparently the debate producers scoured the United States and decided that the only non-partisan left was a cadaver.

This is a good time to remind you that I don't support either candidate for president because neither of them meet my minimum standards, which frankly aren't that high. And I'm not convinced that voting for the lesser evil is better for the country in the long run than supporting low voter turnout which could create an opportunity for a third-party candidate someday.

I'm looking forward to the second debate.

 
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Oct 10, 2012
@tinyhands

[You may not use the economy in your examples, as that is not a factor of an individual government or its political efficiency.]

What are you talking about? You think Greece and Italy would still be in the mess they're in if their political machinery worked better?

[I require you to demonstrate specifically what does not work so well about countries with multi-party governments, as you vaguely suggested in your response to the commenter named "language."]

Reread my response. You will see me admitting that Germany seems to be working well enough and Britain and France seem to be somewhere between good and bad. My point was that I don't see any evidence that multiparty democracies as a whole work so much better than our system.
 
 
Oct 10, 2012
@whtllnew
Dude. Seriously. I could care less about the specific political agenda of any 3rd party and neither should you, yet. America's government is broken and I'm suggesting a path for a fix. Of course, I'm referring to being broken only at the highest-levels: Congress and the presidency. Apolitical government bureaucracy has its challenges but at least has a mechanism for correction. There is no such mechanism for Congress other than the people, and that's exactly how it was designed in the Constitution. When 3rd parties become a genuine threat to the entrenched parties, which they are not currently, then you can worry about their positions.

Every vote in Congress has only two options: Vote for the resolution or against. (I postulate that abstention is statistically insignificant in Congressional votes.) When there are only two parties, with insufficient majority to overcome filibuster (which seems to be the standing threat, requiring supermajority), voting along party lines ensures deadlock and the resolution fails. Either the bill does not become a law, or the law is politicized and the sole focus of opposition is repeal. (see also: Obamacare - however I am making no judgement for or against) Because these are binary choices, members of 3rd parties will naturally ally with one of the other parties on some issues, and the other party on other issues, allowing (if sufficient majority exists) one or the other to break the deadlock. The benefit is that they will not ally with the same party on every issue. Opposition is diluted, giving support a closer approximation of the majority will of the people. The natural conclusion to the principle of diluting opposition is 535 individual parties. However, my humble suggestion is that we start with a third.

I admit however that, if the current two-party system was not beholden to party leadership and that individual members of Congress were able to vote the will of those they represent and not those who fill their coffers, there would be no need for deadlock-breaking 3rd parties. Grover Norquist is the most egregious example on the Republican side, but I'm sure there is an equivalent Democratic counterpart. Currently, there is no upside for a Congressperson to vote against his party. Only downside, and it has nothing to do with the issue on which he or she votes.

Since you won't let me use vague benefits like 'to improve things' I require you to demonstrate specifically what does not work so well about countries with multi-party governments, as you vaguely suggested in your response to the commenter named "language." You may not use the economy in your examples, as that is not a factor of an individual government or its political efficiency.
 
 
Oct 10, 2012
@language

[I disagree with your pov. I think 3rd party is itself its own virtue. binary has 2 options, framing those 2 options is the responsibility of the programmer. what does 0 mean, what does 1 mean? its all about context, as decided by who interprets answer.]

Funny, I didn't get the idea that democracies that had many different parties functioned that much better than our two-party model. Yes, Germany is doing okay, but Greece and Italy aren't. Britain and France aren't doing that bad but they're not doing that good either.
 
 
Oct 10, 2012
@whtllnew

I disagree with your pov. I think 3rd party is itself its own virtue. binary has 2 options, framing those 2 options is the responsibility of the programmer. what does 0 mean, what does 1 mean? its all about context, as decided by who interprets answer.

our political process has 2 options, but who is framing the debate? currently they only have to be slightly less repulsive than 1 other option.

2 options is not enough when establishment frames the question.

a third option would operate like a parasite, making those close to it refine their message and policy. To stand out and be unique compared to the parasite.

the 2 party system is a joke.
 
 
Oct 8, 2012
@tinyhands

What is the end result you're hoping for here dude? Seriously. Practically.

If its to get one or both of these third parties onto the national stage then the point I made before stands; you should only go for it if you like what they stand for better than the two parties we have now, and should continue to support them only if they're a genuine improvement in what they do.

If you're trying for some other result then I must have missed it and would like you to spell it out. And don't say something vague like 'to improve things'. I want to know specifically what you're going for here and how you expect to get there.
 
 
Oct 8, 2012
@whitlnew
[You should vote for them only if you agree with their program and then, after they are in office, believe that what they actually do is an improvement over the Democrats and Republicans.]

I disagree. We should vote for them because they will not win this time. They will not win because a majority of Americans do not believe there is a credible choice other than Democrat or Republican. Third-parties do not yet attract "world class" candidates, because those candidates are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the day when Americans will vote for third-parties en masse. It's a catch-22. But if we "waste" our votes in this election, we encourage those candidates who really can win to run next time. And when they do run, and as people are attracted to their campaigns, the platforms will drop those planks that currently cause most Americans to see third-parties as the lunatic fringe.

"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution." -- John Adams
 
 
Oct 8, 2012
There is a significant amount of work already done on Obama and hypnosis. I find it hard to believe Scott is not trolling by omitting this. Obama is textbook at it. He paces audience perfectly, he has timed pauses to bypass the critical factor, he constantly uses yes-sets, his imagery and linguistic bridges are all there.

Its simply not believable that someone so trained at public speaking should have as many pauses and as many restates, ums, ahs, etc. Its all about timing, and leaving your critical mind in the lurch. Make your engine stall, so he can say whatever he wants, but you dont object because you are in a fog trance since he denies you a functional sentence to ponder till you just give up.

if romney is a great hypnotist (which i dont doubt), then obama is the sith lord who authored the book on grandmaster mind manipulation. "These are not the droids youre looking for".

5 minutes on youtube will give you an easy intro into obamas hypnotic patterns. There is too much there to be accidental.

And Scott if you are really a trained hypnotist, it strongly brings into question any intellectual integrity you might have once had. You mean to say you could not connect the dots? Why would you choose to not analyze obama under this light? Shows a giant blind spot when it comes to him.

[Obama's main power of influence is in the actual sound quality of his voice. There's science on that point. I would rate his hypnosis/influence skills as good but not great, as evidenced by his debate performance and his inability to move congress. -- Scott]
 
 
Oct 6, 2012
@Phanton II

[It's a total cop-out to say neither candidate meets your supposedly low standards. This is an election to determine the direction of the United States. Four more years of Obama, and we'll be simply a much larger Greece. We'll look back on the "new normal" of 8% U-1 and 15% U-6 with fondness, wishing we could go back to those great economic times. A $16 trillion debt will look like fiscal responsibility. Except in Scott's case, not voting is not an option.]

Dude, I have never seen a Republican president reduce the deficit (that's going back to Reagan, btw). I have, however, seen a Democratic president reduce the deficit and excuse Obama's failure to do so on the grounds that he's following the best advice he can get on how to fix the economy while still dealing with Congress. If Romney is elected Im quite sure hell expand the deficit by doing what Republican presidents like to do; cut taxes without reducing spending. I have more faith that Obama will eventually bring the deficit under control.
 
 
Oct 6, 2012
Another item in your post that I meant to comment on: your assertion that low voter turnout could be a good thing, because it might mean a third-party candidate might have a shot someday.

Time for a little realpolitik, as our buddies in the former Soviet Union used to say. Here's the problem with a third party. When someone says they want a third party, what they're really saying is that they want a party made up of people who think exactly as they do. Put 100 people in a room, and you'd probably end up with enough compromise to make maybe 25 new parties, if you were really lucky and half the people in the room were too drunk to really notice what they were signing on to.

Here's the thing about voter turnout. If you don't vote, you really do. Just as in the way not doing anything is a decision in itself. If you don't vote, then your guy won. If it isn't the guy you favored, then it's just too bad.

It's a total cop-out to say neither candidate meets your supposedly low standards. This is an election to determine the direction of the United States. Four more years of Obama, and we'll be simply a much larger Greece. We'll look back on the "new normal" of 8% U-1 and 15% U-6 with fondness, wishing we could go back to those great economic times. A $16 trillion debt will look like fiscal responsibility. Except in Scott's case, not voting is not an option.

Having said that, the electoral college renders my vote worthless, since I live in California, a state that Obama couldn't lose even if he were umasked as an android under the control of the Trilateral Commission. But I'm not going down without a fight, and I'm not sitting this out, regardless of which party controls California.

So to US readers, my best advice is, don't listen to Scott. This is crunch time, and if we screw it up, there's virtually no way to come back.

 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 6, 2012
Ah don't want no Gubmint tellin' me what ter do, takin' 'way all ma med'care! God-darn President Obama, where's his birth c'tfercate, what do you think about that? He don't have one, I seen it on Glenn Beck.
 
 
Oct 5, 2012
@Tigerh8er

[Just yesterday I posted complaining that you weren't as witty as you used to be, and today you knocked it out of the park. I feel like this one was just for me!

Thanks!]

And here I thought all the posts I lost yesterday were due to Scott overzealously trying to keep things under control between Therion and me! (Yes, overzealous is the word. Some of the lost posts had nothing to do with Therion). Scott, it seems something is really wrong with the blog comment system. Its not just this; Ive noticed for some time that there is a mismatch between the comment count as it shows on the blog page and the number of comments shown here.
 
 
Oct 5, 2012
Just yesterday I posted complaining that you weren't as witty as you used to be, and today you knocked it out of the park. I feel like this one was just for me!

Thanks!
 
 
Oct 5, 2012
@tinyhands

[There is no difference between Romney & Obama. The rich will stay rich, the poor will stay poor, and neither will make any appreciable difference on the middle class. ]

Im quite sure that, had McCain been elected, we wouldn't have Obamacare, we wouldn't have the government trying to force universities to offer birth control and we would have had tax cuts instead of increased government spending the past four years. Not the kind of difference you're looking for, perhaps, but still significant.

[Scott and all his readers should vote for write-in Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Or Green party candidate Jill Stein. You don't have to believe in their policies to vote for them. You only have to believe that your vote matters and that the only way to break the cycle of 51-49 deadlocks is to have a president (and congresspersons) who are neither Democrat nor Republican and will decide issues based on that specific issue, not what party leadership tells them.]

Give either of these parties any appreciable power in congress and Im quite sure they will start acting like Democrats and/or Republicans in terms of tactics. You should vote for them only if you agree with their program and then, after they are in office, believe that what they actually do is an improvement over the Democrats and Republicans.

 
 
Oct 5, 2012
It just doesn't sound right (to me) when President Obama, who has increased the deficit by $5 trillion and is actually promising (based on his current spending plans) to increase it by another $5 trillion, to accuse his opponent of:

1. Planning to increase the deficit by $5 trillion.
2. While also cutting all vital programs for old people and the poor.

It makes me wonder what Obama thinks Romney is going to spend the $5 trillion on - maybe keep it in a big money pit to swim in?

But wait, Obama actually believes that keeping taxes at the current levels is actually a spending increase.

A modest proposal: let's change the tax levels to the same rates as they were during the Clinton administration (before the Bush tax cuts), but also lets cut all new government programs that have been introduced since the end of the Clinton administration. Things seemed pretty good back then. I don't think people were starving, seniors got social security and people had health insurance.

Obama has been blaming Bush for everything since he got elected. So just cut everything Bush did.
 
 
Oct 5, 2012
There is no difference between Romney & Obama. The rich will stay rich, the poor will stay poor, and neither will make any appreciable difference on the middle class. The economy will eventually do better on its own, since the president can't just flip a switch and put everyone back to work. If you believe that he can, and that the current president simply chooses not to flip the switch, I don't believe you're competent to vote.

Scott and all his readers should vote for write-in Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Or Green party candidate Jill Stein. You don't have to believe in their policies to vote for them. You only have to believe that your vote matters and that the only way to break the cycle of 51-49 deadlocks is to have a president (and congresspersons) who are neither Democrat nor Republican and will decide issues based on that specific issue, not what party leadership tells them. When the decision is yea or nay, and all votes in congress come down to for or against, you can't have a 3-way deadlock.

If you vote for Obama, you are not just voting for him, you're also electing Debbie Wasserman, who directss all Democrat congresspersons on how to vote. If you vote for Romney, you're also electing Reince Priebus, who directs all Republican congresspersons on how to vote. Surely you don't believe that senators and representatives are actually free to vote their conscience, on behalf of your best interests with no personal, financial (and worse) downside to bucking the party line, do you? If so, you've just invalidated yourself as a competent voter again.
 
 
Oct 5, 2012
Didn't the League of Women Voters used to moderate the debates? I'll research, but I think they did, because I remember reading an analysis of presidential debates that said they went downhill after the Media took it away from the LWV.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 5, 2012
So, do we need a president who is convincing or one that stays closer to the truth?

I didn't see the debate (thank god) (i live in europe), and frankly I'm not sure if the whole debate-thing is any good for the country. They're starting to do it here as well (debating in Germany between the candidates for chounselor), and i think it just drags the level of politics further down.
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 5, 2012
["Then he could toss in a zinger about how awesome the sex was right after killing Bin Laden."

Bill Clinton would have done it. ]

@Homerhoff
Not only would Bill Clinton have done it, he would have also made sure that Hillary had no part to play in that "sex right after killing Bin Laden".
 
 
Oct 4, 2012
To quote the late President Reagan, "There you go again." For a guy who doesn't vote and says he isn't really interested in politics, you sure spend a lot of time on it. Not only that, but calling Romney a liar while giving Obama a pass implys a less than reasoned conclusion.

I think you should fact-check the fact-checkers. For instance, President Obama's statement about how Romney's tax plan would increase taxes on the middle class by $2,000 per family was, shall we say, fabricated. It came from an early analysis by the left-leaning Tax Policy Institute, who said this in error, and later retracted it. All the other economic analyses said that Romney's plan wouldn't increase the tax on the middle class. But President Obama said it again during last night's debate.

Here's another one: President Obama said that there was a law on the books that gave companies tax breaks for moving jobs overseas. Governor Romney replied that he'd been in business for 25 years, and had no idea what the president was talking about. Guess what? Romney was right. There is no such law on the books. So, did President Obama admit his error? No. Not only that, he repeated this untruth today in a campaign speech he gave in Denver today. You'd think someone might have whispered in his ear, "Mr. President, stop saying that!" But I guess he likes the sound of it, whether it's true or not.

There is little doubt that Governor Romney cleaned the president's clock last night. Even Chris Matthews of MSNBC, the guy who had the tingle run up his leg when he heard then-Senator Obama's campaign speech, admitted that the president blew it. Not that many people watch MSNBC anyway - By the way, did you hear that Fox News got the most viewers of any network, cable or broadcast? That means they beat out NBC, CBS and ABC.

More than 65 million US residents watched the debate last night. That says to me that this race is nowhere near over. If everyone had already made up their minds, there wouldn't have been that many folks watching.

So, Scott, you need to switch off all the liberal pundits you watch and listen to the rest of the story. But to me, the best news is that you still don't vote. Thank God.
 
 
Oct 4, 2012
After the debate I told my wife exactly what I told her after Willard's acceptance speech in Tampa: God that sounded good... if I believed a word of it, I'd vote for him myself.

But I don't.

Interesting trivia bit: I learned today from an article in the New Yorker that Mitt's dad named him Willard after Willard Marriott, founder of Marriott's.
 
 
 
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