It was seen as the debate he had to win to stop the bleeding, repair the damage if he wanted any hope of another 4 years, and win he did. He came out aggressive and swinging; as someone said the president woke up for this debate. Town halls can historically cause problems for candidates fielding surprise questions from audience members, not so these candidates;  what we did see was more of the glaring differences  between those competing for the highest office in the land. Moments that took the night were few but there; Romney got it started when answering a question on pay equality in the work place talking about receiving binders full of women candidates for cabinet members upon his request, extoling his use of flexible work hours to help aforementioned members hired who have families and children. Obama won the night though, in many an opinion, when his challenger tried to chastise him on Libya saying it took the former 2 weeks to call what happened a terrorist attack; however upon consulting transcripts the moderator agreed he at least mentioned terrorism in his rose garden speech. And while it’s true all politicians tell half-truths, use numbers to spin their case, those that work best for them, it is what is revealed by the numbers and half-truths used by all republicans in this election cycle, from the primaries to now that have, should have us all worried, should have us all sitting up to take notice, ready to cast our vote for anyone else.;editorsCD

 Opening remarks came with a question from a college student who wanted to know his odds for getting a job, wanted to know what each of them would do to make sure he and his fellow students could find jobs after college. Our republican presidential hopeful began with the now often heard lines of gettingthe economy growing again, not only creating jobs but high wage ones so hard to find now exulting the same 12 million jobs projections forecasted would be created anyway and now letting Detroit go bankrupt has suddenly turned into him wanting the major car companies to go through traditional chapter 11 bankruptcy. But president Obama swiftly pointed that’s not what Romney meant or wanted; he believed yes they should go through bankruptcy but if they needed funds to facilitate their recovery get it from the private sector, something virtually impossible. From his beginning policy stance proving what we have seen all along, what even top analysts recognize, Mitt Romney will say whatever on any issue at any time he thinks will get him elected this go round; added examples include as governor of Massachusetts he was publically prochoice, now publically prolife minus the life altering experience to explain his change of position. Worse are the devilish details that A- the auto bailout saved approximately 1 million jobs, is the reason we have an auto industry not being totally forced to import all the cars on our roads in the coming decades and B- pesky details of how he intends to continue Pell grants and student loans when the Ryan budget, he pledged he would sign, cuts those exact 2 things or how he expects people, young or old, to be trained for jobs of the future taking into account his projected cuts to education. Yes he may have done a wonderful job of using the young man’s name, giving off an air of concern about something obviously important to him, but has no concrete answer to jobs, vs. the president who wants to build on what he’s already done, wants to make sure there are retraining programs for workers now, a partial solution for the long term unemployed.        

Next someone asked about the energy secretary not lowering gas prices sparking a back and forth on energy; governor Romney touting his goal to secure our energy independence within 5 years funny his running mate in the vice presidential debate said 8 years for energy independence, utilizing the oil, coal, natural gas present under all of our feet seeming to grudgingly admit our need for renewable energy sources. Romney further bashed the president for denying the Canada pipeline, countered his claim that he is for all sources of energy old and new because oil production is drastically down on government lands despite the president saying the contracts were reassigned from persons who wanted to sit on them for a decade or more using them when it was convenient for them to persons, companies willing to use them now, telling the audience the proof was at the pump and you’re paying more. That last line might be true if events of the last 1, 2, 3 and yes, 4 years had not happened; the president himself was keen to point out gas was at 2 dollars and something a gallon when he took office because we were in the worst economic shape in decades, presenting his challengers methods would land us in the same mess. Outside of government policies you have external forces like tensions in the Middle East, refinery fires here at home underscoring the next problem; it’s amazing republicans seem to have amnesia forgetting the BP oil spill, the fact that it exposed some of the worst drilling platforms in terms of culture, safety, good repair, suddenly wondering why drilling on government land is down. Key words being government land; overall domestic oil production is up since president Obama came to office, our oil imports are the lowest in years, while completely ignored is the environment. The Canada pipeline was given a no go on environmental grounds; to say nothing of we already have enough pipeline covering the country. Clean coal is an industry myth akin to saying healthybotulism,child safe plutonium; there are still serious concerns centering around how we get out natural gas, where people can light their tap water, increased seismic activity reported around hydrofracking sites, the fact companies doing this are not required by the government to disclose the chemicals they use to obtain said gas. Yet all we hear from the other side is the need for energy independence, the supposed abundance of energy here on our shores forcing astute minds to ask; what is the plan, lower energy prices for the next 10 to 50 years until we plunder all of our natural resources, then throw ourselves back to the preindustrial revolution dark ages because we have nothing to replace it? That is our fate if we don’t invest in companies like Fisker, Tesla, Solyndra.  Drill baby drill was the line from 2008 and it seems republican energy policy hasn’t changed a bit.

 After that another audience member asked about Romney’s plans to alter the tax code specifically the rumored elimination of charitable and other deductions used by every day middle class Americans; here we discover how exactly he plans to pull it off saying he would give X amount of money to people to use for deductions and let them decide what deductions to apply it to, whether that’s the home mortgage deduction, the charitable deduction, deductions for college tuition, childcare. One how is that really different from the tax regulations we have; obviously if you don’t own a home, you can’t claim the home mortgage deduction, if you didn’t give money to charity or under a certain amount you can’t use that deduction. By that same token potential ways to stiff the middle class out of what they currently get are found in what if the maxim allotment for deductions, whichever ones you choose to use, is less than the total amount of all the deductions you are now allowed to claim under as separate entities?  Additionally those breaking down the Romney tax plan have been sounding off on this; you can still drastically reduce the dollar amount paid by wealthier persons and have them pay the same percentage, piece of the pie, as it relates to the whole. Sharp minds contend this is the Romney plan on taxes; vice president Biden in the last debate revealed numbers on what this would do middle class struggling Americans, just like primary oddball Herman Cane’s 999, it would cost ordinary people more, lending credence to Obama’s rebuttal remark: he doesn’t have a 5 point plan he has a 1 point plan, people at the top playing by a different set of rules. Clear policies for the rich vs. the president who supports something as common sense as the buffet rule; he told the college student he wanted to reform the tax code to reward businesses who stay here, a much more solid plan than making America an attractive place to do business by making the corporate tax rate nearly non-existent.      

A woman present in the town hall probably shocked everyone candidates and home viewers alike when she asked about a key women’s issue, but not one of the ones so hotly discussed this year; she asked what both men would do about pay equity in the workplace. Enter Romney’s comment about binders full of women and instituting flexible work schedules for his office while governor of Massachusetts; however when asked if he supported the Lily Ledbetter bill allowing women to sue their employer for pay inequality no matter when they find out about it, even years after the fact, he hedged the question. Similar to Ann Romney on The View saying abortion, contraception are not the only issues important to women that much of what she hears concerning women is the economy, the first part above all else being crass and stupid because women’s issues, reproductive care is an economic issue when you are paying an insurance premium but still have to dig into to your own pocket pay for birth control to treat medical issues, when it costs a thousand dollars plus a month because you also have a genetic condition and therefore need specialized contraception, when you are a married student trying to do the right thing by having a family when they can financially afford it, when both you and your spouse’s  careers are established you they can properly provide for a child. Directly related to equal pay for equal work problem is the number of employers who now refuse maternity leave to women, who blatantly refuse to hire mothers, who ask obtrusive questions to weed out women of child bearing years, those who might want to start a family while working that potential job. The economic recovery has been called a he-covery based on employers giving preference to men when it comes to jobs because they are seen as family providers, despite the obvious change in times making women primary breadwinners often making more than men.

Leading to one thought; maybe this is the set of women’s issues republicans should have been focused on instead of calling Sandra Fluke a slut for testifying before a congressional panel about all the medical conditions treated by “birth control” that had nothing to do with preventing pregnancy or any woman having “so much sex they want the government to pay for it.” Maybe this is what republicans should have been focused on instead of blasting the president for saying all reproductive care must be given to them in the health insurance they pay for via their employer regardless of that employers religious leanings instead of calling the provision an attack on religious freedom. Maybe this is what republicans should have been focused on instead of the personhood bills in Mississippi, Virginia and probably a couple of other states forcing women to have a trans vaginal ultra sound (stick a probe up a woman’s privates now there’s a clear case of forcible rape) shove the monitor in her face before she’s allowed to have an abortion, or maybe they could get a reasonable non-religious view of the latter and realize that abortion in case of rape, incest, life of the mother is sane and humane then they shut down extremists like Todd Akin and can spend the time they spend cleaning up after him helping the American people, people who don’t need or desire to use contraception, people who are, here’s a shock, not sexually active, possibly past their child bearing years therefore would have no need for an abortion, even in the case of rape. Governor Romney again distancing himself from a current runner for office who implied the children conceived as a result of rape were a gift from god, yet is still willing to endorse aforementioned candidate. Based on his experience with women in cabinet positions, he should have been fighting to make flexible work schedules a matter of federal law not any of this other, to borrow a word from our sitting vice president, malarkey.

Other relevant topics receiving less campaign attention, at least of late, included a question on immigration bringing out Romney’s one liner from the primaries about self-deportation, make it so undesirable for illegals to be here they will leave, reminding us of  his primary stance of go home, get in line like everyone else and a question considering the violence recently about renewing the push for an assault weapons to keep AK 47’s out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill induced a fumble by Romney who thought there already was one when in fact it expired some years ago. Again we come back to maybe this is what republicans should be focusing on instead of insurance provided birth control, trans-vaginal ultrasounds, parsing the definitions of rape to justify your hardline stance on abortion. Rather than knowing the ban needed renewing, talking about how we handle the mentally ill, not only in terms of them being able to get their hands on firearms, but actually getting them help, making sure they are treated before they are ever associated with the tragedies we saw in the news this year alone, Romney correlated the violence seen with a lack of parents. True though it may be when it comes to the gang violence in urban streets, it does nothing to address the fact the movie theater shooter got his guns, ammo on the internet. Equally insulting is touting the all we need is parents line in the wake of the personal responsibility president who has given out such lectures to the American people, who went into schools and urged students to be active parts of their educations like no one had for 18 years before. Subsequently actions speak louder than platforms, speeches and promises; while republicans, regardless of what political office they hold, what such office they are running for, have been actively trying to take us on a social journey back to the 1950’s, president Obama put in the regulations of Dodd Frank to deal with Wall Street, signed the Lilly Ledbetter act to ensure fair pay, put forth the dream act to give young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship in the only country they remember, provided programs to aid in the housing crisis. While his running mate was devising a plan that will destroy Medicare should it ever be put in place simultaneously scaring seniors half to death about future benefits, while his past proposals tried to privatize social security, president Obama created and passed healthcare reform carrying not only the provision to give all reproductive care to women, but reining in insurance companies no longer allowing them to refuse people with preexisting conditions, no longer drop people when they get sick, in other words aiding people where they live.

No, neither Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan have had a chance to become commander and chief or vice president respectively, but that hasn’t stopped them from condemning everything done by the president from running on repealing Obama care to saying financial reform is strangling business, from supporting the attack on religious freedom when it came to providing birth control to railing against the dream act originally meant to give young illegals a path to citizenship. And the portion he was able to make law gave them a path to legal right to work, not amnesty Romney spoke out vehemently against that very night, had nothing to do with whether or not illegals could get drivers licenses, something he would prevent. While the president worked in tandem with the military to revoke don’t ask don’t tell, because whether you’re gay or not has no effect whatsoever on your ability to fight and die for your country, republicans had the anti-masturbation, condoms don’t prevent HIVAIDS Delaware senatorial candidate . It’s funny, as in something rotten in the state of Denmark funny, republican religious conservatives are so concerned with what consenting adults do in their beds and with whom, ever quick to speak out against gays, lesbians, bar them from being scout leaders, part of the YMCA, Girl scouts, saying it mars the traditions on which they we founded   when child sex abuse scandal after child sex abuse scandal spills across the headlines first it was the catholic, then there was the Penn State shocker or the elementary school in California who had all of its staff replaced after pornographic photos of students taken by a teacher over decades was discovered and now the boy scouts of America, who doesn’t want gay people corrupting their youth is under fire for a cover up similar to that of the church 10 years ago. And this is what they choose to focus on; at least the president wants to help people where they live, is in touch with the electorate. Imagine how much he could get done, where we would be if he didn’t have to combat domestic extremists.