Sick Of The Election Jiz Virtually Speaking Trash Talk

If there were more days remaining, say maybe seven, perhaps there would be reason to throw some politics in here for discussion. But, no, there are, as I write this blarney, only four days left in our long national nightmare. So, enough of the yankee doodle dandies in their gold Rolls Royces, and car elevators, enough of the relentless ads and horserace discussion, let us instead talk football.

But this week it will not just be here, Marcy and I will also be appearing with Jay Ackroyd on Blog Talk Radio Sunday at 9pm EST [note corrected time] and other times adjusted accordingly moving ever westward. To talk about the election? Nope, enough of that, we will be talking trash about football baybee! So come join us, here is a link to the audio feed on the net and if you are in Second Life, you can find us there as well. Even better, you too, my friends and friendettes can call in and yammer with us by dialing (646) 200-3440 during the show. Can’t promise how many get through, because I am a rookie at this, but what the heck give it a try. Exciting!

With that public service announcement out of the way, let’s get down to business. First up is, of course, the student athletes. The game of the week finally does not have to do with the Blighted Irish. This week it is without question Alabama at LSU. Both teams have big and nasty defenses, but the Crimson Tide has a quietly cold blooded efficient offense, and I think, coupled with the defense, it will be too much for LSU. The other critical showdown is Oregon at USC. Can Matt Barkley and the Trojans get their mojo back and spoil the Ducks’ season? Maybe, the game is in the Coliseum and the Men of Troy have a lot of weapons in the offensive skill positions. But their O-line is not up to usual par, nor is the defense. And, as I witnessed in person a couple of weeks ago, the Quackers are big, fast and badass; I’m sticking with the boys with the billed beaks. Lastly, an honorable mention to Colin Klein and Kansas State, who host the always dangerous Oklahoma State.

On to the pros. The big cheese here is the Cardinals at Packers. Okay, not really, the Pack will light up and then crush the Cardinals in Lambeau and send the once promising season for Arizona further down the toilet. The game I am strangely hooked on is Miami at Indianapolis. The Fish are WAY better than anybody thought. Philbin can coach, Tannehill can throw, and Reggie Bush can be a featured back. Oh, and the defense is quietly awesome. Miami looks to be for real; but so too do the Colts and Andrew Luck. No clue which way this one will go, but maybe a slight edge to the Fish because of the D.

The third game on the slate for discussion is Pittsburgh at the Giants. Really, this is probably the best game of the week. Good/Bad Eli and Big Ben both came out of the 2004 draft, and both have a couple of Super Bowl wins. Both teams traditionally have punishing defenses. Fun fact: “This is the first time quarterbacks in opposite conferences with multiple championships are meeting in a regular-season game since Joe Montana’s 49ers beat Jim Plunkett’s Los Angeles Raiders in 1985.” The game is in the Meadowlands where emotions will be running high from Sandy. Everything points to a win for the Gents, but the Stillers are starting to gel after a rough start to the season, and I think they may pull off an upset.

Hard to see Dallas having much for the Falcons in Atlanta. A better question is who in the world will win between the Saints and Eagles down in Nawlins on Monday Night? Both teams have been quite sucky to date. I don’t think any team in history has given up more yards on defense through the first seven games than the Saints, and Drew Brees is getting uncharacteristically hammered behind a porous O-line. Mark Ingram has been close to a bust at running back. It ain’t pretty down in the Big Easy. Nor has it been for Mike Vick and the Iggles. His and Any Reid’s jobs may truly be on the line. Both teams are desperate for a win, but I think Philly is a better team and will take the win.

Lastly, the Circus is up and running in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Sebastian Vettel had some problems with the brakes on his Red Bull in practice and spent most of the time in the garage. Qualifying is underway as I post – and it has just wound up. Lewis Hamilton was fast and took pole. Mark Webber will join him on the front row, with Vettel and Maldonado in the second row. Jenson starts from a disappointing P6 and Alonso is all the way back in P7 and Massa in P9. Two oddities may affect the final grid by tomorrow: Vettel stopped his car on the track as qualifying ended, and that is usually a penalty. Secondly, Ferrari was working beyond permissible hours last night in the garage, and that may yet cast Alonso and Massa. We shall see.

The Yas Marina Circuit is the most expensive track on the calendar, and it is indeed beautiful. It is also a pretty fine track for racing. Here is a nice video overview by CNN from when Yas Marina first opened in 2009. Should be an excellent race and it goes off at 8 am EST Sunday morning (think I have that right, it is the stupid daylight savings time change day).

So, that is it for this weekend. Music above is the original promo video of Elected by Alice from 1972 and it is pretty fun. Rip it up!

And They’re Off! 4 GOPers Make Bid for 2016 Over Mitt’s Still-Warm Body

I’m not really sure why the pundits are wasting time deciding whether Nate Silver is a wizard or a washed out baseball junky. There’s another fairly clear sign that insiders believe Obama will win this election: the number of 2016 GOP contenders who are shifting into campaign mode.

Chris Christie can be forgiven for boosting up Obama’s image as President the last week of the campaign. After all it makes him look Presidential. More importantly, it’ll ensure NJ gets lots of quick federal attention. (Though it did remind me that Christie used his coming out party at Mitt’s RNC to talk about Chris Christie.)

Jeb! was a bit more circumspect, spending a Mitt campaign appearance bitching that Obama blames his brother for … things his brother did.

“His entire strategy is to blame others — starting with my brother, of course,” Bush said during a campaign rally for Mitt Romney in Coral Gables, Fla. “Basically, he blames every possible thing rather than having the humility to be able to reach out and to find common ground.”

But the most amusing bid for the 2016 front-runner position comes from Paul Ryan’s unnamed backers (though Governor Kasich is quoted by name) inventing reasons why Ryan wouldn’t fulfill the other position he’s running for (Congressman)–including that his newfound popularity would fracture the Republican caucus or that Democrats would make him cast difficult votes. So, these anonymous advisors say, Ryan should instead write a book or become a Professor or lobby or think tank.

Anything for an opportunity to make public use of PowerPoint.

That is why some of Ryan’s biggest boosters are considering whether it wouldn’t be better for Ryan to resign from the House. He could write a book — “saving America” is a theme often bandied about — or teach at a university.

After all, on the campaign trail, Ryan is as much lecturer as campaigner. Aides routinely set up giant video screens so Ryan can use visual aids to walk audiences through the minutiae of budget politics. Graphs and charts are as common as yard signs and American flags at some events, with Ryan settling into his role as explainer in chief.

Yet curiously, those aides mention a 2016 Presidential bid at least 4 [Update–oops! 5] times in the article.

…future President Ryan?

…biding his time until a presidential run of his own.

a leading White House contender in 2016…

…forcing him to take sides on measures that could come back to haunt him during a presidential bid.

Ryan’s allies aren’t ruling out a bid for the top spot for their friend.

5 mentions of the next Presidential cycle, about a guy who’s on the ticket for this cycle.

And finally there’s this “accidental” email sent by Newt’s people:

“The truth is, the next election has already been decided. Obama is going to win. It’s nearly impossible to beat an incumbent president,” advertiser Porter Stansberry wrote in the email to Gingrich supporters. “What’s actually at stake right now is whether or not he will have a third-term.”

You gotta get an early start, I guess, if you’ll be 73 when you run again.

It’s all rather ghoulish, this campaigning to take over Mitt’s position as the party’s standard bearer before the race has even been called.

I don’t feel all that bad for Mitt, though. After all, he has participated in the weird custom of posthumously baptizing people, basically converting people after they’re dead. Republicans, apparently, follow the opposite strategy, burying you while you’re still technically alive.

Creeping Unemployment in the New Battlegrounds: PA and MI

The big news of the campaign, once you get beyond Mitt’s kabuki storm assistance and auto bashing, is that PA and MI are battlegrounds again.

Maybe.

First, Restore Our Future PAC announced $2 million ad buys in both states.  The the Obama campaign announced they’d buy ads as well.

Today, the Detroit News has a poll showing Mitt within 2.7% of Obama (though polling ended on the 29th, when Mitt’s deceitful auto binge began). In fact, while Romney and Ryan were “not campaigning” yesterday, Ann Romney was, here in Grand Rapids.

Some commentators suggest this is just Mitt’s effort to open up new battlegrounds as it becomes clear he won’t win OH and might not win VA (or FL, but that would be game over for him). That is, Mitt has to look viable, and by moving into MI and PA, he can sustain narratives that he still has a shot.

That may be what’s going on.

But it pays to look at what has been going on with the unemployment rate in both MI and PA (I’ve included OH for comparison and MN because it often gets thrown into these discussions).

MI’s unemployment rate is up 1% off its recent low in April (the downtick this month, and some of last month’s uptick, is probably due to the way the auto companies handled model year layoffs). Part of the uptick is probably due to Rick Snyder’s austerity plans; part is probably due to Obama’s failure to provide real mortgage relief.

PA’s unemployment rate is up .8% from its recent low in May. Here, too, Republican governor Tom Corbett has pursued austerity measures. In addition, PA is exposed to the Euro-related decline that has hurt much of the Northeast.

The point, though, is that both these states have the makings of a battleground state–including a white working class population that can swing with economic tides–plus rising unemployment. Obama is still ahead in both. A few more ads about the auto bailout–indeed, Mitt’s deceitful attacks on GM and Chrysler generally–will probably move MI back towards Obama. And the Philadelphia area was spared the worst of Sandy, staving off the possibility that Pennsyltucky would have unimpeded voting while the Democratic Southeast would have floods. So it’s still most likely Obama will win both by comfortable margins.

But one thing makes movement towards Mitt more realistic here than in, say, MN. The economy is getting worse again. And in spite of all Mitt’s unforced errors in recent days, and in spite of the way that Snyder and Corbett’s state level policies–which mirror those Mitt would adopt at the federal level–have almost certainly exacerbated unemployment, voters may still turn to Mitt as an alternative to a stalled recovery.

Mitt’s play in MI and PA is probably a ploy to look viable. But there are a lot of unemployed workers in both states who will help him along.

Why Does Mitt Hate Profit?

[I posted substantially this post yesterday, but the BlogGods ate it along the way. So I’m reposting.]

Along with the deceitful attack on Italians who make better car company owners than GOP Private Equity types and the Lee Iacocca spin, Mitt has rolled out a radio version of attack on the auto bailout. From Greg Sargent, here’s part of the script:

Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio, or China? Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs. But they are planning to double the number of cars built in China — which means 15,000 more jobs for China.

And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making jeeps in — you guessed it — China. What happened to the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo and throughout Ohio — the same hard-working men and women who were told that Obama’s auto bailout would help them?

The ad continues Mitt’s deceptive insinuation that GM and Chrysler aren’t also adding jobs in the US, which they are doing.

But it does something else. It takes a decidedly anti-profit stance.

You see, there are two reasons car companies are so gung-ho to enter (or re-enter, in the case of Jeep) the Chinese market. First, because it’s growing; when I was working in China, auto people considered the rising Chinese middle class to be 300 million–almost an entire US full of population. And most of them were just aspiring to buy their first car. That’s a whole lot of first time car buyers to sell to, as compared to US consumers, who are driving less and replacing their cars at a slower pace given more durable cars.

The other reason to go to China? Profit margins are bigger there than here. When I was in Shanghai in the mid-2000s, the profit margin on Buick Regals was about $2,000, as compared to the roughly $200 profit margin on a similar car here. The margins are closer now (because manufacturing in the US has gotten cheaper and in China has gotten more expensive), but China still offers good profit margins. Selling Buick Regals or Jeeps in China allows GM and Chrysler to accept lower margins on cars here.

By selling high margin cars in China, US companies can be more competitive here, meaning they will be able to expand sales and therefore production here, too.

All this is implicit in Sergio Marchionne’s response to Mitt’s ignorant rantings.

Together, we are working to establish a global enterprise and previously announced our intent to return Jeep production to China, the world’s largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand, which would not otherwise be accessible. Chrysler Group is interested in expanding the customer base for our award-winning Jeep vehicles, which can only be done by establishing local production. This will ultimately help bolster the Jeep brand,and solidify the resilience of U.S. jobs.

Marchionne notes 1) you can’t sell in China unless you build in China, 2) selling in China makes the Jeep brand stronger, 3) making the Jeep brand (and its profit margins) stronger makes it easier to keep up US production.

Marchionne’s implicit point should be where this discussion is heading: free trade hasn’t worked out to be fair trade. China–and Japan and Korea–still protect their markets, meaning if you want to sell there, you’ve got to make cars there.

Mitt has promised to get tough on China. But his series of auto ads have made no mention–not a peep!–of how he’ll reverse this practice and make it possible for Jeep to export cars made in Toledo. Indeed, when Obama launched a trade dispute over auto parts in September, Mitt scoffed at the effort (and ignored Obama’s decent and sustained effort launching trade disputes, one of which pertaining to specialty steel recently won at the WTO).

“The president may think that announcing new trade lawsuits less than two months before the election will distract from his record, but American businesses and workers struggling on an uneven playing field know better,” Mr. Romney said in a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.

Mitt Romney wants to attack American companies for going where profits are. And he’s doing so without discussing why that’s necessary.

That makes him neither a tough guy nor a good businessman.

Lee Iacocca: Mitt Will Make It Easier for Auto Companies to Evade Taxes on Cars Built in China

As part of its effort to pretend that Mitt would be good for the auto industry, the campaign had Lee Iacocca sum up why Mitt would be good for the auto industry.

The first paragraph of specifics reads:

When Mitt Romney is president, he will reduce our nation’s corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent – currently the highest combined tax rate in the industrial world – so that American car companies can compete on a level playing field at home and abroad. He will also stop the extra tax automakers are forced to pay when they want to bring home their profits to reinvest in the United States.  President Obama could have done this the day he took office since his party controlled both houses of Congress, but he chose not to. [my emphasis]

Obama, of course, has a tax credit specifically for manufacturing companies, meaning under Obama the auto companies would pay less than under Mitt.

But the other part–particularly against Mitt’s egregious claims that the auto bailout has helped Chrysler and GM move production overseas–is even more ridiculous.

Iacocca says Mitt would be better for the auto companies because he’d allow the auto companies to repatriate profits from overseas without paying taxes.

But that assumes, of course, they’re making profits overseas. It would mean they were doing precisely the thing Mitt is attacking–moving into new markets, like China.

So on the same day Mitt attacks Chrysler and GM for making and selling cars in China, generating greater profit it can use to support workers here, his campaign sends out a post boasting that Mitt would require Chrysler and GM to contribute less domestically on the profits they made by making and selling cars in China.

 

Italian Automaker Brings about Chrysler Success after GOP Private Equity Failure

I’ve been a bit tardy in responding to Mitt’s latest cynical ploy, to pretend that rather than expanding production and jobs in both OH and MI, Chrysler is outsourcing production to China.

The Detroit News’ David Shepardson has a good fact check on Mitt’s latest ad here. Greg Sargent rounds of OH papers mocking Mitt’s claims here.

But there’s an angle on Mitt’s claims that has been missed. His ad says,

Obama … sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps, in China.

As Shepardson notes, Chrysler used to build Jeeps in China for the Chinese market. Ford builds cars in China for the Chinese market. GM builds cars in China for the Chinese market (GM also exports Chinese-built subcompacts to Latin America). Chrysler’s return to the world’s largest car market is smart business, something any viable global brand needs to do.

If it’s a moral failing for Presidents to preside over private car companies trying to compete in China, then Mitt has a problem with St. Reagan, during whose Administration Jeep first made groundbreaking entries into the Chinese market.

And if Mitt has a problem with Chrysler (or Ford or GM) building cars in China to sell in China, then he had better prepare to get far tougher with China than he has threatened to do so far. China still slaps huge tariffs on cars made outside of the country, so to be viable in the world’s largest automotive market, you have to build in China. That is the crux of the argument American car companies (and Midwestern politicians) have been making for decades: while the US allows imports from all countries, Japan and Korea and now China make it very difficult to export to those countries. This is not fair trade.

But I’m most offended by Mitt’s insinuation that selling Chrysler to an Italian company–he doesn’t mention Fiat by name–was disloyal.

Recall Chrysler’s recent history. Chrysler’s most recent strong point was the early 2000s, when it succeeded in developing nifty (albeit gimmicky) cars with shortened development cycles (think PT Cruiser). But as Daimler took more control over Chrysler, it invested less in the brand. GOP Private Equity firm Cerberus bought its first 80% of the company in 2007 and picked up the rest in 2009.

Cerberus had no intention of bringing Chrysler back to its former strength. Rather, it wanted to strip out the finance side of the company (it was investing in GMAC at the same time) and sell off the rest. But with the impending financial crisis, it never managed to pull off the trick (though it did get a bank bailout in the very last days of the Bush Administration). Meanwhile, it virtually put the Chrysler model development on autopilot while it tried to find a way to cut its losses.

Thus, when it came time for bailouts, there didn’t seem much to bail out at Chrysler. Unlike GM, which really had started making a turnaround, Chrysler had no product in the pipeline to suggest it would be worth bailing out (though it did have a few super efficient factories in the US).

Choosing to bailout Chrysler was the most difficult decision Obama made during the auto bailout. I’m not even sure I would have chosen to bail it out. And it was difficult precisely because a bunch of Republican vulture capitalist types–people like former VP Dan Quayle and former Treasury Secretary John Snow–had stripped the company.

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In came Fiat and its Steve Jobs-like CEO Sergio Marchionne. Read more

Wherein DC Sir Lancelots Turn Their Tail And Flee Like Candyass Sir Robins

Attention Americans:

Those brave elected and appointed representatives who represent YOU in the Federal Government are fleeing! Well, granted, I guess that doesn’t really account for the elected members of Congress who have been diddling and twiddling their thumbs, among other things, for a while now in order to suck at the tit of corporate cash, while doing nothing for you on the record at their elected jobs (no, Darrell Issa’s dog and pony show doesn’t count) and throw it around to perpetuate a fraud on you.

But, as they say in movies, that is something completely different.

No, here is the notice I take just a little umbrage with:

Non-emergency employees (including employees on pre-approved paid leave) will be granted excused absence (administrative leave) for the number of hours they were scheduled to work unless they are:

required to telework,

on official travel outside of the Washington, DC, area,

on leave without pay, or

on an alternative work schedule (AWS) day off.

Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the day of the announcement or who are required to perform unscheduled telework on a day when Federal offices are closed to the public must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agencies’ policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements.

Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksites unless otherwise directed by their agencies.

As friend of the blog, Timothy Shorrock, noted:

No government Monday. A state of anarchy will reign!

I’m with Tim, we are all SO SCREWED!

Okay, and I’m going to take a flyer that Mr. Shorrock agrees, the nation may not only survive, but actually prosper without the usual cabal of corrupt con men and bloodsuckers that generally run things in Washington DC on a “normal” day. Call me crazy, but I am going out on that limb.

Here is my issue: They are all bozos on that bus. Pretty much all of the NOAA, CNN and other data intensive models have been prediting this likely Sand path for days.

Our Men in Havana, er, I mean men and women in DC, are just figuring this out now??? Perhaps the usual rhesus monkey brains were otherwise occupied still figuring out the Administration’s housing policy.

And, look at the directive. What does it really say? That the poohbahs suggest common workers, just being notified a couple of hours before they go to sleep, do what they were already doing, or already had the option to do, and work from home. For any others unable to do so, the suggestion is they take leave.

In short, the real backbone of the federal government, the regular workers, are being treated in a tardy and tawdry manner.

By the 1% MOTUs. Shocking, no?

So, while the politicians who are not already cravenly out of town on your dime are absent, even the remaining Knights of The Pinhead Table run like crazed Sir Robins.

Ain’t that America?

Uh, yeah, so tomorrow will be different from exactly what other day you federal jackasses??

Because, Congress, the DOJ, the SEC, the FEC, the NLRB, and all the rest, BEFORE SANDY, were sooooooo totally responsive to the needs and desires of their constituents.

On a serious note, this hurricane is pretty clearly a grave matter for human safety. Care SHOULD be taken. The projected damage had the DC/Eastern Virginia/Maryland area in the cone of danger in nearly every projection.

The federal government waited until now to tell regular workers, the real backbone of our functioning government to, paraphrasing “stay at home if you have that already available, or otherwise work as best you can.

That is loathsome from a leadership of cowardly and craven Sir Robins. And, on the remote chance you do not understand what a “Sir Robin” is, watch the video.

Yep, Jonathan Chait Was Wrong

A number of weeks ago, I disputed Jonathan Chait’s claim that Obama would have a poorer chance in the last three debates.

The VP Debate: the Angry Old Man

Chait argues, first of all, that Joe Biden will try to refute Paul Ryan’s budget kabuki, which will end up making the Vice President look like an angry old man.

[snip]

And when Biden delivers lines like the one from his DNC (after 9:00 in the video)…

My dad never failed to remind us that a job is a about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and saying ‘honey, it’s going to be okay.’

… He credibly addresses men and women who otherwise aren’t being spoken to in this election.

If Joe Biden is an angry old man, he’s a lot like the angry old men who will swing this election.

The Town Hall where the questions voters want answered finally get asked

Then there’s the Town Hall debate, where real people rather than a crusty old PBS host get to ask the questions. Chait thinks Obama will fail here because he’ll spend time filleting Mitt rather than answering questions.

[snip]

But one of the problems with the last debate was precisely in the stupid choice of questions Jim Lehrer asked.

[snip]

I would expect that the questions from real people will be far more favorable to Obama because the things voters care about provide Obama to describe where he has been successful and where the guy who brags about creating $9/hour jobs he admits don’t pay the bills tends to fail.

Plus, some of Mitt’s biggest campaign gaffes have come when he responded to regular questions with douchbag answers–the “corporations are people” problem. Obama may be standoffish, but Mitt is standoffish and tone deaf when speaking with real people. And that, too, should serve Obama.

Debating RomneyShambles

Then there’s the foreign policy debate, an area where even Republicans recognize Mitt’s weaknesses. Read more

Nun on the Bus Tells Paul Ryan to Turn Off the Camera

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As I noted the other day, Paul Ryan’s fake soup kitchen photo op was important not just because it shows him to be a big-footing asshole, but because he may have endangered the funding of a charity serving the Catholic social justice mission–a mission Ryan’s entire political career has harmed.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks Ryan should be a better Catholic. Actual, still-practicing Catholics think so too!

Catholics United just sent out a press release calling Ryan out for such big-footing. Among others, it quotes Sister Simone Campbell (the Nun on the Bus who spoke at the DNC) preaching the Gospel to Paul Ryan.

“Representative Ryan tried to use the poor, and those who serve them, as a political prop,” said James Salt, executive director of Catholics United. “From a man who has done so much to undermine the work of public-private partnerships and faith-based groups, this is an incredibly cynical move.”

Sr. Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK Lobby and “Nuns on the Bus” leader, has repeatedly invited Rep. Ryan to meet and experience first-hand how his budget proposals will affect charities similar to the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Youngstown.

“If Paul Ryan is serious about serving the Gospel mission of Jesus Christ, I’d encourage him to read Matthew 6, which instructs us to serve when no one is looking,” said Salt. “You can learn a lot about a man by what he does and says when the cameras aren’t rolling. I suggest Rep. Ryan take a day off from campaigning to meet and get to know those who would be affected by the budget cuts he’s proposed.”

I guess if Ryan showed up before the cooking pots were cleaned up, he might have to talk to such people. And given his response to Campbell, he’s apparently afraid to do so.

Nation-Building, 12 Years Later

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Remember how central to the 2000 Presidential campaign nation-building was?

It was all in the context of the Kosovo effort, of course, an intervention that elicited horrified cries about Executive overreach from the likes of John Yoo. But at that time, the Republican opposed using our troops for nation-building and the Democrat reservedly spoke in favor of it.

BUSH: Somalia. It started off as a humanitarian mission then changed into a nation-building mission and that’s where the mission went wrong. The mission was changed. And as a result, our nation paid a price, and so I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war. I think our troops ought to be used to help overthrow a dictator when it’s in our best interests. But in this case, it was a nation-building exercise. And same with Haiti. I wouldn’t have supported either.

Read more

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