Shorter Question Everything
The foreign policy speech certainly sounded like a lot, until you looked at what was said. It’s nothing more than jingoistic word salad, perhaps strung together a bit more artfully than Sarah Palin, but if anything it means less and is more dangerous.
But first, a chuckle from the 1st debate…
• Big Bird
• After recently promising to end funding for beloved Sesame Street character Big Bird, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is now refusing to take questions from children on a Nickelodeon special, Kids Pick the President: The Candidates. Although both then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on the special in 2008, only Obama has agreed to participate this year, the network said on Monday.
About that speech
• In addition to being vague and lacking in substance, Romney’s saber rattling speech would have the US in 5 wars. Back to Iraq despite the legal grounds, involvement in the Syrian civil war despite any sort of legal authority to do so and not knowing who to back, an invasion of Iran would be necessary to stop the nuclear program, stuck in Afghanistan as he gives the military its head, smaller wars in Yemen, Somalia, perhaps even Libya. And who is going to pay for all that? Romney’s various wars would, if pursued, bankrupt the country and cause more backlash and terrorism against the United States. Romney thinks that US prestige flows from strength, defined as military might. But in fact what people in the Middle East admire about the US is its values, such as democracy and the rule of law. They hate our military hubris and still have not forgiven us for what we did to Iraq.
• Policy: “Reckless, amateurish—that’s what news media and fellow Republicans called Mitt Romney’s gaffe-filled July tour of England, Israel and Poland. When our U.S. diplomats were attacked in Libya. The New York Times said Romney’s knee-jerk response ‘showed an extraordinary lack of presidential character.’ And even Republican experts said Romney’s remarks were ‘the worst possible reaction to what happened.’ If this is how he handles the world now just think what Mitt Romney might do as president.”
• In Madeleine Albright’s opinion, Romney’s foreign policy speech was “full of platitudes, devoid of substance.” Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined a press call afterwards to offer her thoughts on Romney’s speech, and she was blunt. Speaking on Libya, she said “first he was for intervention, now he’s against it,” and went on to say that she’s concerned that he “doesn’t have a sense of what tools to use” in today’s world. Expanding on those remarks, Albright said that she knows the people advising Governor Romney on his foreign policy positions, and they would simply reinstate Bush foreign policies. She wondered aloud whether anyone would ever ask Romney what it was he would have done differently, since he seems to be long on criticism and short on actual ideas. She called Republicans’ (and Romney’s) fixation on Russia “truly out of date” and went on to say that if we were living in the 20th century he might have more basis for it, but not today, characterizing his remarks as having a “Cold War tone” to them which echoed his remarks earlier this year about Russia being our “number one ideological foe.”
• ‘There’s absolutely nothing in this speech’: If the idea was to capitalize on last week’s debate success, Romney appears to have made a mistake — today’s remarks were intended to make the Republican appear more presidential, but instead, the speech reinforced some of the same doubts that have plagued the former governor for months. Facing demands for more substance and details from his platform based on vague generalities, Romney delivered … nothing. Indeed, for all of its repeated condemnations of the president, the speech ended up calling for many actions that Obama has already taken. As First Read noted, “[A]lmost every policy Romney will call for — tough sanctions on Iran, withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014, a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians, free trade, vigorously going after the terrorists in Libya — has been pursued by the Obama administration.” Of course, Romney stressed the need to “change course,” but never got around to saying what that course might be.
• MS. PSAKI: Sure. A couple things I’ll say. One is this is Mitt Romney’s seventh attempt by our count to reboot his foreign policy. When you’re commander-in-chief you don’t get to bring an Etch-a-Sketch into the Oval Office. You don’t get second chances, never mind seventh chances. [Press gaggle, 8 Oct 2012]
• Mitt Romney: Failing the Commander-in-Chief Test
• In a key foreign policy speech Monday morning, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed President Barack Obama “has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years,” and promised to “reverse that failure.” However, Congress passed and Obama signed three major trade deals in 2011, giving American companies access to new markets in South Korea, Panama and Colombia. The Associated Press said the arrangements “could be worth billions to American exporters and create tens of thousands of jobs.” Even Fox News reported on it.
• On Israel/Palestine now: Finally, I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.
On Israel/Palestine then: “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way … the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish … [S]o what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” [TPM and MotherJones]
• National Security Brief: Romney Foreign Policy Speech Widely Panned. Pundits, experts and media outlets widely panned Mitt Romney’s foreign policy speech he delivered yesterday at the Virginia Military Institute. “Romney’s stated policies in Monday’s speech, just as they have been in the past, are either pretty much like Mr. Obama’s or, when there are hints of differences, would pull the United States in wrong and even dangerous directions,” a New York Times editorial stated, adding, “His analysis of the roots of various international crises is either naïve or deliberately misleading.”
Ryan gets testy
• Paul Ryan ends interview after being pressed on guns and taxes. During the interview, Ryan denied the U.S. had a “gun problem.” He said the country only had a “crime problem.” “If you take a look at the gun laws we have, I don’t even think President Obama is proposing more gun laws,” Ryan told the interviewer.
• The Romney campaign threw a fit tonight and cut off an interview when a local reporter asked Paul Ryan a tax cut question. If Ryan can’t handle the local media, how will he deal with Joe Biden? When Paul Ryan was pressed by a local Michigan reporter about how his tax cut would reduce violent crime, his Romney campaign handlers immediately jumped in and ended the interview.
• Romney’s Stake in Chinese Stocks: The GOP candidate invested in 10 Chinese companies recently—including ones that embezzled, partnered with Iran, and stole US trade secrets. According to Romney’s recent tax returns, between 2008-2011 Romney invested more than a half million dollars in the stocks of 10 Chinese companies—including firms that embezzled, partnered with Iran, and stole US intellectual property. Through Romney’s individual and family “blind” trusts—managed by his personal lawyer, R. Bradford Malt—the Romneys traded more than 25,000 shares in Chinese firms, including some based in Hong Kong.[PDF]
• Romney Put Profits From China Ahead of Security for America
• Sensata is a Bain-owned company that is closing a factory in in Freeport, Il to move the jobs to China. The workers have set up a camp they call “Bainport” and workers and supporters are trying to block the Bain trucks that are moving equipment out to ship to China right now. In breaking news there were arrests made today. Today community members supporting the Sensata workers were arrested for trying to block Bain trucks from sending the factory’s equipment to China.
• Turkey has confirmed it is deploying more fighter jets to an airbase close to the border with Syria, amid artillery exchanges along its tense southeastern border with Syria. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, addressed parliament on the issue on Tuesday, saying that his country does not want war, but that Turkey needs to be prepared for anything. At least 25 additional F-16 fighter jets were deployed at Turkey’s Diyarbakir air base late on Monday.
• Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Monday the “worst-case scenarios” were now playing out in Syria and Turkey would do everything necessary to protect itself, as its army fired back for a sixth day after a shell from Syria flew over the border.
• BBC News has uncovered evidence that appears to suggest that weapons intended for the Saudi military have been diverted to Syrian rebels.
• PROPAGANDA ALERT?: The United States and Israel are considering a surgical strike on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, Foreign Policy magazine says. Based on a source reported to be close to discussions between the sides, the report published Monday maintains the strike may only take “a couple of hours” involving a “day or two,” and would be conducted using “primarily bombers and drone support.” If such a strike is carried out it would set the Iranian nuclear program back many years, the report said and would do so without civilian casualties.
• A new survey by the University of Maryland’s Anwar Sadat Chair and the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that a majority of Americans (55 percent) said an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would worsen the U.S.’s strategic postion in the Middle East. The poll also found that 29 percent said the U.S. should discourage Israel from attacking Iran while 53 percent said the U.S. should remain neutral.
• Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney threw down the gauntlet to Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday, saying that if elected president he would show “no flexibility” on missile defense. “I will implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats. And on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin,” Romney said in a major foreign policy speech in Virginia four weeks out from election day.
• Thousands of protesters have marched across Spanish cities to decry tough austerity measures as the protest movement gains momentum, with signs it could culminate in a general strike in November. Sunday’s march is the latest in a series of protests staged by hundreds of thousands of Spaniards almost on a daily basis over the past few months. The protests have presented the centre-right government with a headache as it is due to hold regional elections.
• Arkansas Republican: Slavery was ‘blessing in disguise’ that ‘rewarded’ blacks with U.S. citizenship: A Republican member of the Arkansas state senate’s self-published memoir claims that for black people in America, slavery was a “blessing in disguise,” that, if they were physically hardy enough to survive it, “someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.” According to the Arkansas Times, Rep. Jon Hubbard, of Jonesboro, included these thought and others in his book, Letters to the Editor, Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative, which was initially written about and excerpted by writer Michael Cook at Talk Business.
• Charlie Fuqua, the Republican candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives who called for expelling Muslims from the United States in his book, also wrote in support for instituting the death penalty for “rebellious children.”: “The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellious children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21:” In the same book, Fuqua advocated for expelling Muslims from the U.S., saying it would solve what he described as the “Muslim problem.”
Bits and pieces
• Texans can breathe easier: the radioactive waste Halliburton fracking surveyors lost last month has finally been found. The United Arab Emirates-based oil services company told reporters this weekend that an oilfield worker found the rod of americium-241/beryllium alongside a highway near Pecos, Texas.
• Mexico may have notched its biggest victory in its six-year offensive against drug cartels with the presumed killing of Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, the leader of the ruthless Zetas cartel.
• Avrocar: Declassified documents reveal Air Force’s plan to build a UFO. Project 1794, Final Development Summary Report