23 October 2012

Mitt Romney - Iran's way to the sea is Syria. On what planet?

During the 3rd presidential debate on Monday, 22 October 2012, Mitt Romney told the viewers that Syria is Iran's way to the sea. That claim is wrong.

Presidential debates are held to enable the viewer to make up her/his mind about which candidate to vote for. They are an opportunity to asses the candidates' knowledge and to get an insight into what and how they think.

In the last of the three presidential debates in preparation for the presidential elections of 6 November 2012, which was held on 22 October 2012, the two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, talked about foreign policy. One of the subjects was Syria.

This is part of what Mitt Romney said:
Well, let’s step back and talk about what’s happening in Syria and how important it is. First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster. Secondly, Syria is an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now.

Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. Number two, seeing a — a replacement government being responsible people is critical for us. And finally, we don’t want to have military involvement there. We don’t want to get drawn into a military conflict.
Did you see anything odd about this? Did you spot it?

It is the first two sentences in the second paragraph:

Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.

Who is an ally of whom is open to interpretation, but it seems that not everyone agrees with Romney's assessment that Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. Wikipedia does not agree, for example.

This is not as harmless as it may sound. In foreign policy, it is important to know who is an ally of whom, in order to avoid mistakes when creating and implementing that policy. One does not want to alienate one's own allies by endorsing or rejecting the wrong countries.

In the second sentence, Romney claims that Syria is Iran's route to the sea. Romney is a Mormon. Mormons deal with planets outside of our solar system, such as the planet Kolob. There are therefore two possibilities:

1. Mitt Romney was talking about a different planet
2. Mitt Romney is ignorant as to the geography of our own planet

Which one do you think it is?

In order to help you with your choice, look at the map above. Here is a direct link to the Mitt Romney's declaration: see (Direct links do not always work. Romney's declaration can be seen at 16 minutes 19 seconds into the video).

18 October 2012

Mitt Romney's 'binders full of women' were not what he claims

Mitt Romney's story about "binders full of women" has had quite an impact on the Internet. There is a slight problem with it however: it is not true. A nice example of why evidence matters.

The first thing I had to think of when Mitt Romney told the story about the 'binders full of women' was what is arguably the best sitcom ever made, the unsurpassed 'Yes, (Prime) Minister'. In the fifteenth episode, 'Equal Opportunities', the Minister of Administrative Affairs Jim Hacker, decides that he wants to implement a 25% quotum of women in top government jobs. His permanent secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, is appalled and successfully derails the plan.

There is, however, one woman the Minister can promote: under-secretary Sarah Harrison. Unfortunately for the Minister, she doesn't appreciate being patronised and being part of a 25% quotum and refuses the offer: 'And thank you. I know you both mean well.'

How is this relevant to Mitt Romney's story? It seems to express what he really thinks, and what his real intentions are.

It turns out that the story Mitt Romney told us is inaccurate. He did not ask anyone to bring him some women, it was the other way around, the women came to him.

A non-partisan organisation known as MassGAP (Massachusetts Government Appointments Project) was founded under the leadership of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) in 2002, before the gubernatorial election. The organisation approached the campaigns of Shannon O'Brien and Mitt Romney and asked them to:

(1).“Make best efforts” to ensure that the number of women in appointed state positions is proportionate to the population of women in Massachusetts
(2). Select a transition team whose composition is proportionate to the women in the Commonwealth
(3). Meet with MassGAP representatives regularly during the appointments process.

According to MWPC, both campaigns committed to the process. Before Romney came to power, women comprised approximately 30 percent of appointed senior-level positions in Massachusetts government. This went up to 42 percent in the beginning of his tenure, and then went down to about 25 percent, which is lower than before and after Mitt Romney's time as governor.

As a consequence, it seems that the story as Mitt Romney told it is largely wrong. It also does reveal that Mitt Romney is not particularly interested in women. How else can we explain his claim that he had to ask for women? How is it even possible that (almost) no qualified women were part of his campaign?

Furthermore, what is the meaning of the "flexibility story"? It seems to indicate that he expects women to not only work full-time jobs but to take full-time care of their children as well. Is this man really the man who intends to help rectify the appalling claims and aspirations of his fellow Republicans?

In the New Testament, women are treated as lowly underlings. They are expected to serve men, and to keep quiet. Jesus leads by example with respect to this principle. St. Paul is is quite explicit as well. For example:

1 Corinthians 11
11:8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.
11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

It seems that Mitt Romney is not lying when he talks about his religion. He is doing exactly what his god tells him to. In the face of all his lies, it is refreshing to learn that he is able to tell the truth, even if this is rare.

He scares me silly.