Monthly Archives: September 2012

Obama and Romney On Intrade

Intrade isn't gospel, but it's a pretty good indicator:

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Nate Silver discusses the impact of the 47% tape:

By Sept. 17, the date when the video of Mr. Romney’s remarks was released and received widespread attention, the momentum from Mr. Obama’s convention appeared to have stalled (although not necessarily reversed itself). Mr. Obama led in the popular vote by 4.1 percentage points on that date, according to the “now-cast.”

Since then, however, Mr. Obama has gained further ground in the polls. As of Thursday, he led in the popular vote by 5.7 percentage points in the “now-cast,” a gain of 1.6 percentage points since Mr. Romney’s remarks became known to the public.

It’s hard to tell whether this recent gain for Mr. Obama reflects the effect of the “47 percent” comments specifically. But the most typical pattern after a party convention is that a candidate who gains ground in the polls cedes at least some of it back.

Instead, the more pertinent question seems not whether Mr. Obama is losing ground, but whether he is still gaining it.


RNC Isn’t Stopping Voter Fraud; It’s Committing It

Why is it that when legitimate examples of election fraud come to light, they always seem to come from one party?

The Republican National Committee has fired a controversial consulting firm it was paying millions of dollars to conduct voter registration in five battleground states, NBC News has learned.

The move came after the Palm Beach County, Fla., elections supervisor discovered 108 potentially fraudulent registration forms submitted by the GOP consulting firm, including suspected phony signatures and home addresses that matched those of a gas station, a medical building and a Land Rover dealership.

NBC News has learned that two other Florida counties, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa, have also reported possible fraudulent registration forms submitted by the firm, including apparent dead people being registered as new voters.

As NBC News' Michael Isikoff reported, at issue is a firm called Strategic Allied Consulting, but by long-time consultant Nathan Sproul, which had been hired by the Republican National Committee's Sean Spicer to register voters in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia — five key battleground states in 2012.

So far in 2012, the RNC has paid Strategic Allied Consulting $2.9 million for its services to the national party, as well as state affiliates. The relationship, however, has been severed in light of the firm's alleged crimes.

So, to review the larger context, the Republican National Committee was apoplectic in accusing groups like ACORN of overseeing fraudulent voter-registration efforts, and at the same time, the Republican National Committee paid millions to a Republican firm that's accused of overseeing fraudulent voter-registration efforts.

A Republican elections supervisor in the Florida panhandle said, "It's kind of ironic that the dead people they accused ACORN of registering are now being done by the [Republican Party of Florida]."

Yes, actually, it is kind of ironic.

And the funny thing is (well, not so funny, actually), the guy that the RNC hired to register voters in Florida — Nathan Sproul — has a known history of shady practices.  Sproul had already been accused of massive voter registration fraud in several states, long before the 2012 cycle.

According to campaign finance records, a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the RNC and the California Republican Party, made a $175,000 payment to the group Lincoln Strategy in June for purposes of "registering voters." The managing partner of that firm is Nathan Sproul, a renowned GOP operative who has been investigated on multiple occasions for suppressing Democratic voter turnout, throwing away registration forms and even spearheading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to hinder the Democratic ticket.

In a letter to the Justice Department last October, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said that that Sproul's alleged activities "clearly suppress votes and violate the law."

That Sproul would come under the employment umbrella of the McCain campaign — the Republican National Committee has also separately paid Lincoln Strategy at least $37,000 for voter registration efforts this cycle — is not terribly surprising. Sproul, who has donated nearly $30,000 to McCain's campaign, has been in the good graces of GOP officials for the past decade despite charges of ethical and potentially legal wrongdoing.

To its credit, the RNC acted swiftly in firing Sproul and his firm.  But why was the dude hired in the first place?

NYC To Get The World’s Largest Ferris Wheel

Artist's rendering:


It'll be on Staten Island and cost $230 million.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2014 on the privately financed project, which also includes a 100-shop outlet mall and a 200-room hotel. The grand opening could come by the end of 2015.

Poll Trutherism

I don't know what to say about the new meme in conservative circles, i.e., that all the polls are intentionally skewed for Obama because of liberal media bias.  It's a pretty silly claim when you think about it.  Some of these pollsters have been around a while — like Gallup, for example.  Getting it right is their stock-in-trade, and it would kill their business if they were blatently wrong.

It began with a series of polls from The New York Times, CBS News and Quinnipiac University, released early Wednesday morning, which gave President Obama leads of between 9 and 11 points in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Later in the day, Mr. Romney got polls showing unfavorable numbers for him in Colorado and Iowa.

These conservatives will tell you that the polls are wrong because they overestimate the number of Democrats compared to Republicans.  Helping this narrative along is a new website, Unskewed Polls, which claims, after liberal media bias is removed, Romney is in fact beating Obama by a wide margin in every poll. But Business Insider unpacked how the website is manipulating data to come up with a Romney victory, and explains why Democrats are oversampled to begin with.

Not that polls can't be wrong, but there IS such a thing (with eery legitimate poll) as a margin of error.  And even if polls disagree, the aggregate of them does paint a pretty reliable picture.

And then there's the problem of the Fox News poll, which — like all the others — shows Obama in a commanding lead nationally, as well as the swing states.  Is Fox News biased for Obama?  I hardly think so.

But I get the sense this is all a set-up for post-election whining.  When Romney loses, conservatives will cry that it was because all the polls — the biased ones — discouraged voter turnout among conservatives.  That's why Obama won.

And it reeks of "birtherism" — the sense that Obama isn't really the legitimate president.

I've met conservatives like this: they seem to think that the United States is predominately conservative, and therefore if a conservative (or even Republican moderate) loses, it is because of, well, someone cheating somewhere.  Again, they aren't persuaded by facts or even demographics.  And that's why they just constantly are surprised.  I have a feeling they are in for another surprise this November.

Short And Sweet And Devestating

I'm kind of busy here with turning 50 years old today and actually, just the durdgery of work, but not too busy to pass along this sweet new Obama ad — to run in the swing states — which doesn't rely on spin, or a narrator, but simply Romney's own words:


If Romney has any life in his campaign, mass saturation of this ad will kill him.

Romney Path To Victory Gets Bleaker

Nate Silver has an epic post today about late September polls from past years and how well they predict the eventual winner of a presidential race. Here are the highlights:

  • Obama is currently up by 3.7%. No candidate in the past 50 years has lost a lead that big.
  • No candidate with more than 47% of the vote in late September has everlost. Obama is currently  at 48.3%.
  • Big changes in the final month aren't impossible, but they've gotten rarer in the past 20 years.
  • It's not true that undecided voters tend to break for the challenger in the last few weeks of a race.

Some Republican pundits are clinging to national polls which show Obama slightly ahead or even, but we know better than that, don't we?  It's all about the polls in the pivotal swing states, and those show Obama considerably ahead.  Let's show the latest numbers:


NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama 48, Romney 46

NATIONAL (Ipsos/Reuters Tracking): Obama 49, Romney 43 (LV); RV unavailable at press time

NATIONAL (GWU/Battleground for Politico): Obama 50, Romney 47

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking w/leaners): Obama 48, Romney 48

NATIONAL (UPI/CVoter): Obama 49, Romney 46

NATIONAL (Winston Group–R): Obama 48, Romney 46

COLORADO (PPP): Obama 51, Romney 45

FLORIDA (American Research Group): Obama 50, Romney 45

FLORIDA (Mason Dixon): Obama 48, Romney 47

FLORIDA (PPP): Obama 50, Romney 46

IOWA (American Research Group): Obama 51, Romney 44

MICHIGAN (Rasmussen): Obama 54, Romney 42

MINNESOTA (Mason Dixon): Obama 48, Romney 40, Johnson 5

NORTH CAROLINA (National Research for Civitas–R): Obama 49, Romney 45

OHIO (Ohio Newspaper Group): Obama 51, Romney 46

PENNSYLVANIA (Mercyhurst University): Obama 48, Romney 40

PENNSYLVANIA (Susquehanna Research–R): Obama 47, Romney 45

WISCONSIN (We Ask America–R): Obama 53, Romney 41, Johnson 1

Gotta like the texture of this.

Romney: Can’t Afford Health Care? Go To ER!

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says, what's the big deal about universal health care anyway? You people who can't afford car elevators can just go to the emergency room.

WASHINGTON — Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured. "Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."

UPDATE: Obama turns around a quick ad:


Romney’s 2011 Tax Returns: We Saw What You Did There

Back in August, I wrote about Romney's claim that he never paid less than 13% on his income taxes.

Today, he release in full his 2011 tax return.  Is that claim still true?

Yup.  Romney paid 14.1% this past year and — wait, what's that?

Mitt Romney's trustee said in a campaign press release that Romney artificially inflated his own effective tax rate so it would remain above 13 percent by deferring $1.75 million in charitable deductions. Romney had previously said that none of his last decade of tax returns dipped below that 13 percent threshold.

He intentionally overpaid his income taxes so he could say he always was above the 13% threshold?  What a maroon.

Of course, if he hadn't done that, some say his tax rate would have been 11% 9%!

And then there's this, from a Romney interview in June:

"I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president," Romney said. "I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."

Hey — you said it, not me.

Romney Will Run America Like He Runs His Campaign?

That's scary.

So imagine your Mitt Romney and your campaign is, uh, struggling.  You are the first presidential candidate from either party in 24 years to have a net negative favorability rating, and you are losing to an incumbent President with the worst economic numbers of any incumbent President.

What do you do?  HAND OUT BONUSES!

Mitt Romney’s campaign handed out more than $200,000 in bonuses last month to senior staffers, according to new disclosure records filed Thursday.

Richard Beeson, Romney’s national political director, received a $37,500 payment on Aug. 31 in addition to his salary,  according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

In addition, records show at least six other top staffers each received $25,000 bonuses on the same date: campaign manager Matt Rhoades, general counsel Kathryn Biber, policy advisor Lanhee Chen, communications director Gail Gitcho, digital director Zach Moffatt and advisor Gabriel Schoenfeld. Two other employees received $10,000 bonuses.

Bonuses, in the real world, are handed out as rewards for success.  Which either means: (a) Romney thinks he's been doing just great lately; or (2) Romney just hands out money to those near him because… well, because he can't help it.

And keep in mind that the Romney campaign is all about combatting the “culture of dependency” by separating indolent lay-abouts who fail from the cream of the crop.  Guess Romney himself has a hard time distinguishing the two.

Today’s Faux Outrage: Obama Is Desecratin the ‘Merican Flag

Over at the Obama store, you can buy (for $35) this print:

which, along with this logo:

has the Dead Breitbarts, Aaron Worthing, and Fox News all in a tizzy, some even going so far as to claim that re-designing the American flag violates the United States Flag Code (it doesn't).

Uh, fellas?

Obama Logo

Fox News Logo

And also:

…not to mention these historical favorites:



So, this is why you get laughed at.

(h/t: LGF)

UPDATE:  I love this…


Let’s Talk Context

So now Romney is trying to utz Obama for something Obama said in 1998 about redistribution.  The Romney clip has Obama saying "I actually believe in redistribution", and goes on to say how Obama wants a government-centered system which redistributes wealth, etc.


But NBC got the full clip, in context.  In the whole clip, Obama says:

I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot.  How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.

Oh.  Decentralized delivery systems?  Fostering competition?  Fostering innovation?  Gee, that doesn't sound like the redistributing wealth Marxist.

So again, Romney messes it up.  And now the Obama camp is having fun with Romney's inability to understand context:


Love it.

Let’s Talk Context

So now Romney is trying to utz Obama for something Obama said in 1998 about redistribution.  The Romney clip has Obama saying "I actually believe in redistribution", and goes on to say how Obama wants a government-centered system which redistributes wealth, etc.


But NBC got the full clip, in context.  In the whole clip, Obama says:

I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot.  How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.

Oh.  Decentralized delivery systems?  Fostering competition?  Fostering innovation?  Gee, that doesn't sound like the redistributing wealth Marxist.

So again, Romney messes it up.  And now the Obama camp is having fun with Romney's inability to understand context:


Love it.

Romney’s September Popularity

This Pew chart has got to hurt.  It shows that at this point — September — in every Presidential campaign going back to 1988, BOTH candidates had a net positive favorability rating.  Even the candidates who ended up losing.

Except Romney.

Ouch.  I hope his staff is keeping this chart away from Romney.

Chick-Fil-A Announces New Policy

Power to the people:

Chicago, Illinois – The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois' leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has learned that Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno has finalized his negotiations with Chick-Fil-A. 

Alderman Moreno has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation.

The Civil Rights Agenda worked closely with the Alderman in an advisory role as he negotiated these concessions with the executives at Chick-fil-A.  Additionally, members of TCRA spoke directly with executives at Chick-fil-A during negotiations to aid in educating their decision makers about anti-discrimination policies and issues affecting the LGBT community.

In a letter addressed to Alderman Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A's Senior Director of Real Estate, it states:

"The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas."  Winshape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-a, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups, including some classified as hate groups, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.  In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.

"We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue," said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. "I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.  It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step."

Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender" and that their "intent is not to engage in political or social debates."  This statement was placed into an official company document called "Chick-fil-A: Who We Are."

Good, because Christmas is coming and I like their peppermint shakes.

Romney Hits Back With Old Obama Video Talking About “Redistribution”

Apparently, the Romney campaign has an audio clip stuffed in a drawer for such an eventuality as this.

The audio clip first surfaced Tuesday, as Democrats were seizing upon their own video of Romney speaking at a private fund-raiser in Florida. That event was held in May.

The clip of Obama was recorded in 1998 at Loyola University, according to Romney's campaign and fellow Republicans who are aggressively promoting it. It features the future president discussing what he calls a "propaganda campaign" against government funded entities, and suggesting better ways to make government more effective.

"There has been a systematic – I don't think it's too strong to call it a propaganda campaign – against the possibility of government action and its efficacy," he is heard saying in the audio clip. "And I think some of it has been deserved."

Later in the recording, Obama says he wants to "resuscitate this notion that we're all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking how – what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live."

He continues: "I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution – because I actually believe in some redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

It's those final words – "I actually believe in some redistribution" – that Republicans have latched onto, characterizing them as an endorsement of redistributing wealth, rather than making sure government agencies were well supported. Many conservatives argue redistributing wealth is akin to socialism.

The clip, which appeared Tuesday afternoon on the conservative Drudge Report website, was subsequently tweeted by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

When Romney appeared on Fox News later in the day, he made the "redistribution" video a central part of his first answer.

"The president's view is one of larger government," Romney said. "There's a tape that came out today where the president's saying he likes redistribution. I disagree. I think a society based upon a government centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that's the wrong course for America, that will not build a stronger America, or help people out of poverty."

This, of course, is gobledygook, and a gross exaggeration of what the president was saying (14 years ago).  Of course Obama likes redistribution "to a certain extent".  Redistribution  comes in many forms: Social Security, Medicare, veteren's benefits, grants to students.  It also comes in the form of relief to the victims of Katrina, for example.  If Romney wants to end all that, then he needs to say so, but he won't because he's in favor of it, too.

Sillier still is the idea that America will re-assess Obama because of what he said 14 years ago.  Obama has been president for the past 4 years.  If he were a redistributor in a way that offends Americans, we would know by now.

What About The Senate?

At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver has published his first official Senate forecast of the year, and it gives Democrats some good news:

[T]he odds of a favorable overall outcome for Democrats have increased in recent weeks. The forecast model now gives them a 70 percent chance of controlling the chamber, either by having at least 50 seats and the presidency, or 51 without it.

Although this represents the first official FiveThirtyEight forecast for the Senate this year, I ran backdated forecasts to July 1 based on the polls that were available at that time. Two weeks ago, for example, the model would have given Democrats a 52 percent chance of retaining Senate control — and four weeks ago, it would have given them a 39 percent chance.

The trend toward Democrats is a relatively recent one. Part of the shift may reflect the bounce President Obama received from the Democratic convention. If so, it could recede, especially if Mr. Obama’s poll numbers do so, too.

But our analysis also suggests that the Democratic advantage has probably been building over the past few weeks, and may not have any one root cause. Instead, Republicans risk death by a thousand cuts, with a gradual deterioration in their standing in several important races, and their inability to field optimal candidates in others.

As Nate's last graph indicates, it's a complicated landscape, so you should read the whole thing. But factors boosting Democratic prospects include the Missouri fiasco, strong recent poll showings by Sherrod Brown, Bill Nelson and Elizabeth Warren, and the strong winds behind the candidacies of Martin Heinrich in NM and Mazie Hirono in HI.

Don't pop the champagne yet though.  The SuperPacs are comin'  Recent reports suggest that they might be taking money away from Romney and focussing on the Senate, House, and even loacl races.  And that's a LOT of money.

Matt Welch On The 47% Trope

Everybody is weighing in, but I wanted to highlight this from, a libertarian site:

Most people at some point will be part of the 47 percent (indeed, nearly most already are). When my friends and I were comparatively poor, as people often are in their 20s and early 30s, we (for the most part) didn't "believe" that we were "victims," didn't "believe the government has a responsibility" to care for us, and didn't vote for Democratic political candidates "no matter what." We mostly took personal responsibility and care for our lives, and acted according to our idiosyncratic individual values and whims.

I should theoretically be the target audience for this stuff. I never took out a federally guaranteed student loan, never enjoyed the mortgage-interest deduction; I worry all the time about government spending and entitlements, and I am not unfamiliar with the looter/moocher formulation. But this kind of reductionism does not reflect individualism (as David Brooks charges), itrejects individualism, by insisting that income tax is destiny. It judges U.S. residents not as humans but as productive (or unproductive) units. (Though as long as people are thinking that way, is there any category of resident less taker-y than illegal immigrants with fake Social Security cards who file income taxes?) And it prematurely valorizes one class of government-gobbling Americans while prematurely writing off another.

There are to my mind many more important things to consider in this presidential race than Mitt Romney's reductive parroting of plausible-but-wrong GOP tropes. But the reason this controversy will have legs is ultimately because many Republicans think Romney's comments were just fine. They are about to learn what the rest of the country thinks about that.

And this is where the cleave exists between libertarianism and conservatism.  Both political philosophies espouse a smaller government, and that's why they tend to be bedfellows when it comes to candidates for election.

But this is the first time where a rift develops, for indeed, conservatism is far more uglier than libertarianism.  Conservatists not only despise government, but they despise the people who — from time to time — rely on government. 

Maybe there is a conversation to be had about the so-called "culture of dependency".  But Romney's reductive characterization of the political landscape indicates he doesn't understand any of this.

Must-See TV

Pick your pundit when Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart face off for a special 90-minute debate about the 2012 presidential race.

The host of Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" and the anchor of Comedy Central's fake newscast "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" have announced they will clash in the event, dubbed "The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium."

This live debate will be streamed online on Oct. 6 from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The price is $4.95, with one-half of the profits donated to a number of unspecified charities.

The 47% Fallout: Romney’s Class Warfare Comments Spell His Doom

Well, here's the Mother Jones version of the video:


For those who have been under a rock the past 18 hours, the controversy is this: During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don't assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

Romney went on: "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

This is not a slip of the tongue. I's just another iteration of his dogwhistling welfare queen campaign — i.e., a theory that’s widespread on the right: Democrats are trying to encourage dependency on government for the explicit purpose of enlarging the pool of voters who can be relied upon to vote Democratic for the rest of their lives, in order to preserve the government handouts they enjoy.

The problem is… and conservatives seem to be slow on picking this up… Romney is literally saying that nearly half the country is a bunch of parasites and moochers.

The Obama campaign responded, of course: “It’s shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people  view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives,” Jim Messina, Obama for America campaign manager, said in a statement on Monday. “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.” Messina also sent out a late-night fundraising e-mail based on the videos, headlined: “You won’t believe this.”

But the statement was hardly needed.

Now, before I get to Romney's response in his hastily-called press conference last night, let me address a couple of things — and these involve facts and arithmetic, so low-information readers can tune out.

First, let's look at this 47% figure. The 47 percent figure is misleading because it applies narrowly to federal income tax. It excludes much more regressive state taxes, federal payroll taxes, and other revenue categories. And no, those 47 percent of people who effectively pay no federal income taxes aren't diehard Democrats. They're seniors to a large extent, as well as students, the disabled, the working poor, and the unemployed from across the political spectrum. Some are even extremely wealthy investors. In 2011, 7,000 millionaires paid no income tax.


Part of the reason so many Americans don't pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans. That's why, when you look at graphs of the percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes, you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan's 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. So whenever you hear that half of Americans don't pay federal income taxes, remember: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush helped build that.

That said, Americans pay more than income taxes, including the fabled 47%.  There's sales taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, etc.  Congressional Budget Office data show that the poorest fifth of households paid an average of 4.0 percent of their incomes in federal taxes in 2007, the latest year for which these data are available — not an insignificant amount given how modest these households’ incomes are; the poorest fifth of households had average income of $18,400 in 2007. The next-to-the bottom fifth — those with incomes between $20,500 and $34,300 in 2007 — paid an average of 10.6 percent of their incomes in federal taxes.

Moreover, even these figures greatly understate low-income households’ total tax burden because these households also pay substantial state and local taxes. Data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy show that the poorest fifth of households paid a stunning 12.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes in 2011.

When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken into account, the bottom fifth of households pays about 16 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average. The second-poorest fifth pays about 21 percent. (FYI: Romney's income tax paid in 2010 was 13.9%)

But the bottom line is this: when ALL taxes are taken into account (not just income tax), the American tax code as a whole is almost perfectly flat.  

Secondly, the idea that non-income-taxpayers are all Obama voters is simply wrong.  In fact, where are these non-income-taxpayers located?


That's right — the people Romney was talking about tend to be in red states!


Okay.  So Romney came out at a hurried press conference, looking disheveled.  And here's how it went:


He didn't apologize, although he claimed that what he was saying was not "elegant".  And he's more or less sticking to his claim.

Indeed, David.

This story has legs, and it will kill Romney.  

There was a time when he accused Obama of trying to start class warfare.  That point is lost in a sea of hypocrisy.  Romney, before a group of $50,000-a-plate donors just dissed half the country (the poorer half).

It tells you how badly Romney has erred that one of the more eloquent rebuttals to the Romney video comes from David Brooks:

This [Romney] comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey….

The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.

Josh Barro  at Bloomberg:

You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president. […]

Romney already has trouble relating to the public and convincing people he cares about them. Now, he's been caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers.

Romney has been vigorously denying President Obama's claims that his tax plan would raise taxes on the middle class. Now, he's been caught on video suggesting that low- and middle-income Americans are undertaxed.

Mark Halperin's take:

This story has secret video (not all of which has been aired yet!); ridiculous, explosive soundbites; controversy; an outraged opposition; and a lot of spinoff angles (reporting galore on income and tax figures; reporting galore on by whom the video was taken; endless speculation/reporting about what Romney really meant, what comparable things he’s said in the past, including at other closed fundraisers, etc).

This is politically devastating because it plays into people’s preconceived notions of Romney as Monty Burns+Thurston Howell.

Joan Walsh at Salon:

Particularly when he rails against the “dependent,” Romney is talking about his older white base, which is dependent on Social Security and Medicare and doesn’t want either program touched. But this is why Romney has had a hard time closing the deal with white working class voters, and the video isn’t going to help. He’s an equal opportunity class warrior: he disdains everyone who is struggling.

Amol Rajan at The Independent:

Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy seems to be twofold: make life as hard as possible for your most devoted followers; convince everybody else that you’re the stereotypical and heartless capitalist brute of Democrat caricature. In the past 24 hours, he’s executed this strategy very effectively.

Me?  I say he's toast.

But Climate Change Is A Hoax, Right?

Graph don't lie…


The average global land surface temperature between June and August of 2012 was the warmest ever recorded,according to data from the National Climatic Data Center. The three month period saw an average land temperature that was 1.03°C (1.85°F) above the 20th century average.

This follows a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showing that the period between January and August was the warmest on record for the lower 48 states and featured the most extreme weather ever recorded.

Leaked Romney Video

Huffington Post has a breaking story about a video which, if authentic, is going to hurt Romney even more.  

The video appears in Youtube right now as a black screen with words.  You can hear Romney talking to a group at a closed-door fundraiser where press was not allowed.

And in his speech, Romney goes on to insult 47% of the electorate:

"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. Alright, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing!"

Here's the video:


There are several more like it, posted by the same YouTube user… including this one where Romney admits that he bought a Chinese sweatshop while working at Bain:


The New Romney Ad

The Romney campaign is in a state of flux, and he seems to be abandoning his state-specific ads for this new national ad released today.

Two things:

(1)  He looks like shit.  He looks like they woke him up at 3:00 a.m.

(2)  Statements like "We gotta balance the budget.  We gotta bring down the deficit" are meaningless.  Everybody agrees on these points.  The question is HOW to reach these goals — Romney does not say.  And again, he says we need budgetary and healthcare policies that help the middle class and small businesses, but he doesn't specify what those policies WOULD BE under a Romney administration.


Politico Article Looks Inside The Romney Campaign

I'mma just going to point to the article — it's really inside baseball stuff about why the Romney campaign is doing so badly, drawing from friends of Romney and campaign insiders who wish to remain anonymous.  This is pretty heavy stuff:

“You design a campaign to reinforce the guy that you’ve got,” said a longtime Romney friend. “The campaign has utterly failed to switch from a primary mind-set to a general-election mind-set, and did not come up with a compelling, policy-backed argument for credible change.”

In other words, the campaign is being run by people who are still running in the GOP primary against Newt Gingrich et al.  They're not prepared for Obama.

Well, that can't be good.

One also gets the sense from the article that there are too many cooks. The Republican National Convention, which was supposed to help re-re-reintroduce Romney to the country, was a total disaster. Various planned highlights were canceled because of the abridged schedule; Romney's speech was rewritten so many times — by people who didn't even know Romney — that key points—like, say, mentioning the troops—were left out, and the nation was treated to an aging actor debating furniture.

And it only got worse:

The GOP convention failed to generate momentum or excitement for Romney — a potentially fatal setback for the struggling campaign. Before that, Romney’s criticism of Olympics organizers just after he landed in London set the tone for a snake-bitten foreign tour that some top campaign officials had argued against taking. Last week, Romney diluted his repeal-“Obamacare” message by saying on“Meet the Press” that he would keep part of the plan. Then Romney’s incendiary late-night statement after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya led many conservative allies to say he had squandered credibility as a potential commander in chief.

Romney strategist Stuart Stevens takes his fair share of hits in the Politico piece, but the article is right to suggest that the problem flows from the top: Romney himself.

UPDATE: GOP speechwriter David Frum tweets his thoughts on the subject —

(1) This AM's Politico story about Stuart Stevens being to blame for Romney campaign's troubles utterly misses the point.

(2) The Romney campaign has a messaging problem because it has a policy problem.

(3) The policy problem is that the Romney campaign offers nothing but bad news to hardpressed Americans and the broader middle class.

(4) How do you message: I'm doing away w Medicaid over the next 10 yrs, Medicare after that, to finance a cut in the top rate of tax to 28%?

(5) I don't care if you hire the people who produce the ATT ads that make my wife cry, there's no lipsticking that pig.

(6) The problem isn't the campaign leadership; it's the party's followership

(7) Over course of campaign, Romney has changed from a pragmatic, capable manager into a dog-whistling culture warrior.

(8) Candidate cd have and shd have resisted that pressure – but it's rich for ppl who demanded the change to complain about consequences.

(9) I thought Stevens' – drafted Tampa speech did good job of humanizing the man, Mitt Romney

(10) But voters do care about the q: what will this presidency do for me? And "dick you over" is not a winning answer

In Which I Agree With Rock Santorum

 Rick Santorum Says 'Smart People Will Never Be on Our Side'.

"We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country," Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, told the audience at the Omni Shoreham hotel. "We will never have the elite, smart people on our side." …

"When it comes to conservatism libertarian types can say, oh, well you know, we don't want to talk about social issues," Santorum said. "Without the church and the family, there is no conservative movement, there is no basic values of America."

Rick Santorum said that this like it is a good thing.  

Doug Mataconis had a good piece on this over the weekend at the center-right Outside the Beltway blog.

What Santorum said today is emblematic of rhetoric you hear quite frequently from people on the right such as Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. Generally, the idea seems to be that there's something about being intelligent, or curious about the world, or interested in something beyond the orthodox interpretations of history and the law that conservatives insist upon. You see it manifest itself in the rejection of even the rather obvious fact that humanity can have an influence on the environment around it and, most irrationally, in the very rejection of everything that biology, anthropology, physics, and cosmology teach us. For many on the right, it's easier to believe in the stories written in a 6,000 year old book than it is in the evidence of just how amazing the universe around them actually is. They can believe whatever they want, of course, but the fact that they constantly try to force these beliefs on others, most especially through the public school system, makes their disdain for knowledge a matter of public concern. […]

It's quite ironic that there's an entire branch of conservatism that has come to this, because things were quite different when the modern conservative movement started.

What Christians Are Mad At Today



The ad appeared on the soft drink's official Facebook page Thursday afternoon.

And that's when the Krazy Kristian Kommando's revved up the rage machine, leaving comments.


Actually, there are old atheists.  

But thanks for the threat!


No, Shan.  Scientists are not still debating the theory.  Kirk Cameron is trying to engage scientists in a debate, but the scientists are all like, "Weren't you an actor on Punky Brewster or something?  Please get out of my office."

As for your question, "Are apes capable of worshiping the one true God?", I'm going to say no.  They like bananas, I hear.

"Not so."

Right.  Also, man did not evolve from humans, because then that would mean that God was human.

Or… something.

"A shame."

Dr. Pepper stock drops.


Because I'm a Pepper!

(Wouldn't you like to be one, too?)


Your crazy with youre funny spelling, Amy!  I also like the idea that everyone is born a christian.  Does that include Jews?  Or are Jews like unicorns, mythological creatures who don't really exist?

Poll Watch: It’s Over?

The real thing to note about the recent NBC/WSJ/Marist polls of Ohio, Florida, and Virginia isn't that Obama has a lead — it's the number of undecided.

In Virginia, Obama leads 49 to 44, but only 5 are undecided. Furthermore, only 2% say they might switch before election day. That means even if Romney swept all the undecided vote, he'd still only have a tie. He's got a structural problem in Virginia.

In Florida, same story: Obama leads 49 to 44, but only 5 are undecided. He could win all of them and still be no closer to victory. Same thing, only 2% say they might flip before election day. He's got a structural problem in Florida.

In Ohio, the news is devastating: Obama leads 50 to 44, and once again only 5 are undecided. If Romney swept all the remaining undecideds, he's still going to lose Ohio. Worse, only 2% might flip.

Obama isn't enjoying a "sugar high" bounce from the convention; this is a structural lead.

For Romney to win, he would have to do more than grab ALL the undecideds.  He would ALSO have to convince Obama voters to switch to Romney.  There's no way he can do that, unless he gets outside help (some external event, or Obama shoots himself in the foot).

Head-Scratchingly Stupid

I know, I know.  One should never pay attention to what Rush Limbaugh says.  

But just when you think he cannot get any more desparate and stupid in trying to explain Obama's popularity, he one-ups himself.

You see, the reason why Obama is viewed by the American public as being competent in foreign affair is…. because al Qaida is helping!

What if Ayman al-Zawahiri and other al-Qaida leaders gave up Osama Bin Laden for the express purpose  of making Obama look good? Giving Obama stature, political capital. Obama got Osama! I mean really, do you think al-Qaida depends on Osama Bin Laden any more, like it did?… So they give him him, they give away his location. We go in, SEAL Team 6, Obama puffs up… Keep him in power, furthers the cause… Do you think the militant Islamists will be as hopeful of getting rid of Israel with a Republican president or with a Democrat president? Just throwing it out there.

Wow.  al Qaeda coughed up bin Laden to make Barack Obama look good?  Really?  That's a Washington Monument size piece of shit-stupid.

New CNN Poll Shows Future Optimism About Economy

… and more than that, here's two revealing poll questions:

Likely voters are TWICE as likely to blame Bush and the Republicans for the bad economic conditions we are in, as compared to blaming Obama.  That's bad news for Romney.

And Romney is running on a campaign of "Are you better off than you were four years ago".  As the poll shows, there's not a lot of meat there.  "Better offs" and ""Worse offs" are only 5 point apart — that's within the margin of error   Looking at it another way, most people think they are the same or BETTER than they were four years ago.


The President and his wife have been bombarding with emails for several months asking for money.

Today Beyonce sent me the email asking for money.

I hate to admit this, but it almost made a difference.

Cartoon Nails It

Boy, if this Oliphant political cartoon doesn't accurately describe Romney's desparation over the past few days, nothing does:


These past few days, Romney has been playing to the crowd that was so outraged by a mosque bgeing built at Ground Zero (by the way, I've been there — you can't see any mosque — it's blocks away).  And he thinks this will help.  Well, sure — if you think you can win by catering to the far right.

Romney Condemns The Movie That The U.S. Consulate Criticized, After Which Romney Condemned For The Criticism

And now Romney's campaign is desperately circulating talking points to supporters, to try to deal with the fallout from his crass statements. Expect all of these to immediately start spouting from the right wing media and blogs:Romney Camp Tries to Manage Fallout From Libya Response.

From the "Questions and Answers" section:

Questions & Answers:

Don't you think it was appropriate for the embassy to condemn the controversial movie in question? Are you standing up for movies like this?

– Governor Romney rejects the reported message of the movie. There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance.

— But we will not apologize for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.

— Storming U.S. missions and committing acts of violence is never acceptable, no matter the reason. Any response that does not immediately and decisively make that clear conveys weakness.

— If pressed: Governor Romney repudiated this individual in 2010 when he attempted to mobilize a Quran-burning movement. He is firmly against any expression of religious hatred or intolerance.

Reports indicate the embassy in Cairo released its initial statement before the invasion of the embassy commenced. Doesn't this show they were trying to tamp down the protest and prevent what ultimately happened, not sympathize with the protesters?

— The Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.

The part in bold above is almost identical to the statement from the US embassy that Romney infamously criticized.

The Attacks On U.S. Ambassador

Well, it's ugly no doubt.  As you probably know by now, families are in mourning, and the diplomatic corps is dealing with the tragedy of four Americans — including the U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens — being killed in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  It is the first time a U.S. ambassador has been killed in 33 years.

Obviously, there will be political questions to be asked — about the protection, but also about our policies in Libya and Egypt.  But Romney was quick out of the gate with an obscene criticism of Obama, issuing a statement which said in part:

“It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

That's pretty harsh, except…. well, it's totally untrue.  When asked to explain what he meant by "Obama's first response", the Romney campaign pointed to a statement from the US Embassy in Cairo issued a statement “condemn(ing) the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims” — referring to the anti-Muslim movie allegedly inflaming the demonstrators, rioters, and attackers.

Can we pause for a moment?  How is that an apology from the Obama people?  What exactly is wrong with that statement?

But ignoring content, you should know that that statement was issued before the attacks on the diplomatic missions, and wasn't a response at all. The Washington Post helpfully passes along the actual first response to the attacks from the Obama administration:

“I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. “As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.”

….She added that although the United States “deplores” any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, “there is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

Screwed it up again, Mitt.

Romney was joined by Sarah Palin (not surprising) and RNC chairman Reince Preibus, who couldn't resist tweeting this last night:

Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.

Fortunately, other Republicans were able to be, well, civil and not try to score political points. I'm sure the wingnute will call thise people "RINO wimps":

[N]o Republican leader criticized President Obama on Wednesday morning, and called instead for stronger security at U.S. diplomatic facilities, the swift capture and punishment of the perpetrators and a renewed commitment to pro-democracy efforts in the Arab world.

“We mourn for the families of our countrymen in Benghazi, and condemn this horrific attack,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement….

In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) usually reserves his morning Senate floor remarks to sharply criticize Obama administration policy. But Wednesday he struck a more somber tone and expressed support for “employing every available tool at our disposal to ensure the safety of Americans overseas and to hunt down those responsible for these attacks….

Even Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — a troika that regularly critiques the Obama administration’s foreign policy — urged Obama to continue supporting democracy efforts in Libya and Egypt.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are attacking Romney for his gross faux pas:

"It’s deeply unfortunate when the circumstance of the statement becomes the story," said Rick Perry's former foreign policy adviser, Victoria Coates, who is now an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and who suggested that Romney should simply have "gone earlier rather than save it for midnight" to avoid appearing to play politics on September 11. "It’s unfortunate that it’s playing out this way, and hopefully they can get back on message, because their point is sound," she said.

Other conservatives were less sympathetic.

"It's bad," said a former aide to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. "Just on a factual level that the statement was not a response but preceding, or one could make the case precipitating. And just calling it a 'disgrace' doesn't really cut it. Not ready for prime time."

A third Republican, a former Bush State Department official, told BuzzFeed, "It wasn't presidential of Romney to go political immediately — a tragedy of this magnitude should be something the nation collectively grieves before politics enters the conversation."

Gotta hurt.  And then there's Mark Halperin:

Unless the Romney campaign has gamed this crisis out in some manner completely invisible to the Gang of 500, his doubling down on criticism of the President for the statement coming out of Cairo is likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign.


Where Race And Class Collide

Interesting Reuters article about an interesting demographic:

(Reuters) – Sheryl Harris, a voluble 52-year-old with a Virginia drawl, voted twice for George W. Bush. Raised Baptist, she is convinced — despite all evidence to the contrary — that President Barack Obama, a practicing Christian, is Muslim.

So in this year's presidential election, will she support Mitt Romney? Not a chance.

"Romney's going to help the upper class," said Harris, who earns $28,000 a year as activities director of a Lynchburg senior center. "He doesn't know everyday people, except maybe the person who cleans his house."

She'll vote for Obama, she said: "At least he wasn't brought up filthy rich."

White lower- and middle-income voters such as Harris are wild cards in this vituperative presidential campaign. With only a sliver of the electorate in play nationwide, they could be a deciding factor in two southern swing states, Virginia and North Carolina.

Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled over the past several months shows that, across the Bible Belt, 38 percent of these voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is "very wealthy" than one who isn't. This is well above the 20 percent who said they would be less likely to vote for an African-American.


One of my favorite movies, Sneakers, is 20 years old this year, and I'm glad to see that it has a solid, if not small, fan base.  

For those who haven't seen it, it is a caper movie with an amazing cast, script, and score. 

Despite a cast which included Robert Redford, James Earl Jones, David Straitham, Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, Dan Ackyroyd, and Ben Kingsley, Sneakers wasn't noticed much when it came out, which is why I am surprised that I'm not the only one who remembers it fondly today.  Slate has a series of articles on it:

Sneakers Paints a Surprisingly Unflattering Portrait of the ’60s Counterculture

What the Characters in Sneakers Have in Common with Steve Jobs

Why Sneakers Inspires Such Bizarrely Devoted Fans

How the 1992 Cyber Caper Sneakers Predicted the Information Age

I can’t remember ever having so much fun on a movie: Stephen Toblowsky

Strange Homage

So I read this, this morning:

The AP reports that both presidential candidates are setting aside their attack ads for the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

I don't quite understand this form of tribute —  "It's 9/11… so we'll resume the name calling, lying and smearing tomorrow?"

I think we can all be joined in our common acknowledgement of the pain and suffering that the nation, the First Responders, and the 9/11 families suffered that day… without going through the pretense that political campaigns are ugly.  It just seems rather stupid to pretend, on this day, that the two political parties aren't engaging in democracy.

God God God God God God

I think what Obama needs to do is to wake up every morning, go to the Oval Office, tap in to all the TV network feeds, sit and look sternly at the television camera, and chant "God God God God God God God God.  Have a nice day."

Because, for some unknown (comical) reason, the wingnuts bounce off the wall every time Obama doesn't mention God.

Here is Fox News' Todd Starnes going ballistic because Obama didn't mention God in his 11th Anniversary of 9/11 Proclamation.


ZOMG!!!!  No GOD!  That just proves that Obama is a Muslin atheist socialist… who was probably behind the 9/11 attacks himself!

Charles at LGF wondered if Bush mentioned God during his 9/11 Proclamations:

The answer was rather quick to find at Wikipedia in the Patriot Day entry.

It turns out that George W. Bush did not mention God for his "Presidential Proclamation–Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance" for 5 of 8 such proclamations — meaning that the majority of these proclamations did not include the word "God."

He mentioned it in the initial proclamation in 2001, and in the years 2004 and 2005.

George W. Bush does not mention God in 2002.

George W. Bush does not mention God in 2003.

George W. Bush does not mention God in 2006.

George W. Bush does not mention God in 2007.

George W. Bush does not mention God in 2008.


Obviously, what happened was the Obama retroactively edited Bush's proclamations.  Oh, the horror!

UPDATE:  Besides, it's not really true.  Here's some of Obama's remarks prior to the proclamation — bold by me:

Eleven years ago, America confronted one of our darkest days. The events of September 11, 2001, brought collapsing towers in Manhattan and billowing smoke at the Pentagon, wreckage on a Pennsylvania field, and deep ache to the soul of our Nation. Nearly 3,000 innocent people lost their lives that morning; still more gave theirs in service during the hours, days, and years that followed. All were loved, and none will be forgotten. On these days of prayer and remembrance, we mourn again the men, women, and children who were taken from us with terrible swiftness, stand with their friends and family, honor the courageous patriots who responded in our country's moment of need, and, with God's grace, rededicate ourselves to a spirit of unity and renewal.


On September 11, 2001, in our hour of grief, a Nation came together. No matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family. This weekend, as we honor the memory of those we have lost, let us summon that spirit once more. Let us renew our sense of common purpose. And let us reaffirm the bond we share as a people: that out of many, we are one.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Friday, September 7 through Sunday, September 9, 2012, as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. I ask that the people of the United States honor and remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved ones through prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight remembrance vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities. I invite people around the world to participate in this commemoration.

Got that, Fox & Friends Morons?


Our Stupid (Republican) Electorate

Public Policy Polling asked a question of Ohio likely voters – namely, who was more responsible for Osama bin Laden’s death: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

In what some… have called “the greatest thing ever,” a full 15 percent of Ohio Republicans surveyed said Romney deserved more credit than the president. Another 47 percent said they were “unsure.”

….Oh, dear.

This was, by the way, the same poll that put Obama over Romney by 5 in Ohio.

UPDATE: It's worse with North Carolina.  Again, 15% give Romney more credit than Obama, with 56% unsure.

Romney Campaign Memo Says Don’t Panic

I'll post the full memo below the fold, but the fact that this memo is there is a bad sign for Romney.  As Wonkette noted, it sounds like the Facebook statuses you put up right after a breakup to insinuate that you are balls deep in hot persons and laughs and fun and rainbows.

For some reason, the memo invokes the Reagan/Carter fight of 1980, and how Carter was way ahead, but then lost.  As if the Iranian hostage thing wasn't a factor, or Carter's malaise speech, or the fact that Reagan is charismatic and Romney isn't.

Also note that the memo addresses North Carolina, saying that Obama's ad buys are down, indicating that he has given up on it.  Yes, perhaps that is true.  Because he doesn't need North Carolina anymore.

That and the rest of the memo seem to be saying, "We're doing stuff.  Therefore, we won't lose."

Bouncy Bouncy

Well, the daily tracking polls of Gallup and Rassmusson (as well as other polls) indicate there was a definite Obama bounce from the convention last week, despite blah economic numbers coming out last Friday.


There are two state polls that I wanted to note: one from Ohio, and one from North Carolina (released a few minutes ago).

Both are from PPP.

PPP's polling shows Obama up 5 points in Ohio.  This is an extremely large amount for the MOST important swing state.  Although ROmney can still win even if he loses in Ohio, his path to victory is very narrow.

Secondly, PPP shows that Obama is ahead of Romney, 49% to 48%, in North Carolina.  This shows a distinct upward trend.  If these numbers are borne out by other pollsters, this means that N Carolina is in play (as swing states go, many were prepared to concede it as a Romney gimme).

In any event, if you're Team Romney, this is NOT where you want to be after the two conventions.  What's more, most polls show that only a very small percent of the electorate is undecided.  That means there is less "swing" to be had, even in the swing states.  He may have to woo some Obama backers, which means that he's either got to have some pretty amazing debates, or Obama has to really step in it or get involved in a scandel.

I must say, from what I saw and heard of the Sunday shows, Romney and Ryan didn't look good.  Ryan refused to come up with specifics for what loopholes they would cut from the income taxes.  And Romney seemed to embrace some aspects of Obamacare, specifically the ban against pre-existing condition denials.  Unfortunately, no journalist followed up with Romney and asked him how the pre-existing condition deal could be done without a public mandate, and just hours later, his campaign quietly told a conservative website that he actually opposes those provisions of Obamacare:

In reference to how Romney would deal with those with preexisting conditions and young adults who want to remain on their parents’ plans, a Romney aide responded that there had been no change in Romney’s position and that “in a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.

Fine, but being wishy-washy doesn't help either.

So, it's an uphill climb for Romney & Co.  Fortunately, they have the money, and the PACs with obscene amounts of money.

UPDATE:  I was wrong.  After flipping once yesterday on the pre-existing condition issue, the Romney campaign flipped back again.

UPDATE #2:  Well, I guess they took four positions yesterday.  I don't know – you figure it out.

Wrong Answer

Fox News’s Brett Baier told Romney that “several speakers” at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week criticized the GOP presidential nominee for the omissions (actually it was right-wing foreign policy leader Bill Kristol who started the attacks) and asked him if he had any regrets. “I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out,” Romney said, adding that his speech focused on things that are important:

BAIER: To hear several speakers in Charlotte … they were essentially saying that you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech. … Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech.

ROMNEY: I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. And I didn’t use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing.

Troops?  Not important?

You really want to go with that?

DNC, Day Three: Obama-Nation

Well, what can I say that hasn't been said?

Not his best, but Obama's "not his best" beats Romney by a mile.

Obama's fire as a candidate gave way to the rooted earth of a man who IS president (as he reminded us).  He reminded us that the job is hard and for serious people, implying that Romney is not serious enough for it — Romney merely wants the gig.

The speech seemed designed mostly to keep his somewhat disenchanted base in line, arguing that change is slow and we can't abandon the fight now.

I like First Read's analysis this morning:

Returning to Obama’s speech last night, we listed four challenges that he needed to meet. First, convince viewers his economic policies are better than Romney’s. On that score, he definitely made the case that the Romney/GOP approach on tax cuts, less regulation isn’t the way to go. But he didn’t persuasively argue that his approach is the best. (However, Clinton probably made that point for him the night before.) Second, describe how he would break the partisan fever in Washington. But he didn’t address this at all, and it might have been the speech’s biggest shortcoming (although one of his messages last night was how the bottom up can create change). Third, lay out what he could achieve in a second term. On that score, Obama pointed to several concrete — if not necessarily new — things. Examples: boost manufacturing by rewarding companies that create jobs in the U.S., recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers in the next 10 years, reduce debt based on the principles of the Simpson-Bowles commission. And fourth, rekindle enthusiasm and excitement, which might have turned out to be the biggest accomplishment from his speech and the three-day convention. 

It's too soon to tell if Obama got a bounce (I'm sure he did, unlike Romney) and how big it was.  Unfortunately, the jobs number for August came out this morning and while not depressing (the unemployment rate went from 8.3 to 8.1), it is a "win" for Romney (slightly).  Will this kill any bounce from the last three days?


The “Net Job Loss” Lie

This is the graph:

Imagesizer (1)

The red lines represent when Bush was president; the blue is for Obama.

These are the monthly job gains/losses for each month since January 2008 to last month.

Romney and company would like to tell you that, if you take all the job gains under Obama (where it goes up) and add them to the job losses under Obama (where it goes down), you get what they call a "net job loss".

Heck, they may be right.  Except it's a disingenuous lie.

For example, who gets the butcher's bill for the job losses of February, March and April of 2010?  Yes, Obama was president, but simply occupying the White House doesn't mean the turnaround would happen right away.  Even Mitt Romney recently said it's only fair to give a new president "at least six months or a year" to get put together an economic plan, assemble a team, and put his or her "policies in place."

With that in mind, if we acknowledge President Obama took office in the midst of catastrophic conditions that weren't his fault, and we don't include his first year against him, 3.88 million jobs — and 4.44 million private-sector jobs — have been created in less than three years.

That's not using Obama's standard; that's using Romney's standard.

Strange GOP Attempts To Court Woman

These two ads are trying to address the gender gap.  They both are based on the premise that women vote for Obama because he is their boyfriend.



Isn't the premise of the ads a little demeaning to women?  It's saying "You only like Obama because you of your feeeelings".

Here's a thought, Republicans: maybe women vote for Obama because of his policies.

Incidentally, apparently the RNC is having a hard time getting female actors who will do these ads.  The woman appearing in the first ad above — she's an RNC staffer.

DNC, Day Two: The Big Dog

In case you missed it:


Almost universally, this speech was praised.  Even conservative Rich Lowry at NRO wrote:

I suspect the most effective part was near the beginning when he said no president could have turned around in four years the economy that President Obama inherited. He’s a great political litigator and although the speech went on way too long and was misleading on key questions, I like the instinct to make a wonky case for the president on substance (or at least to make a wonky rebuttal to the case against Obama on substance). I wish someone had given this sort of speech at the Republican convention, although shorter and more disciplined. 

It was indeed a very wonky speech.  It was supposed to be 28 minutes long; it went 48 minutes.  Clinton addressed, point by point, the Republican lies and defended Obama, pointing out that Republicans got us in this economic mess, and that nobody (including himself) could get us out in four years.

I didn't care for Clinton's speech, mostly because of his delivery and attitude.  He was all like Moses coming down from the mountain, a self-appointed deus ex machina.  He punctuated his points with phrases like, "Now, listen to me.  You gotta believe me…".  I recognize that he has been resurrected in the public's mind, but still… when someone says "you gotta believe me" so much, I tend to think that person a liar.  And Clinton, as we know, had a liar problem at one time.

But he left no stone unturned.  And he wasn't mean-spirited about the people.  He spoke well of Romney as a person.  He spoke very highly of both Presidents Bush — in fact, he praised them more than all the Republicans at the entire GOP.  But he simply pointed out the lies and fallacies that are the centerpiece of the Romney-Ryan campaign and commercials.

And he went off his prepared text…. a LOT.  You must look at the redline comparison done over at the Atlantic, contrasting Clinton's prepared remarks from what he actually said.  He riffed a lot.

But he was the Clint Eastwood to the DNC in a way that the actual Clint Eastwood was not.  Consider this:

Bill Clinton’s Top 10 Best Ad Libs From His D.N.C. Speech

Those of you familiar with social media might have heard tell that former president Bill Clinton’s 48-minute-long speech was about fifteen percent ad lib. For media members with copies of the prepared remarks, the address was something epic fight between the former president and the TelePrompTer, which, per design, stop rolling text whenever Clinton went off script. The machine simply refused to cede any ground to Clinton. Would it skip over paragraphs? Would it replace all his text with a frowning emoticon? The suspense was exhilarating! Below are man’s top ten triumphs over machine: Clinton’s most daring ad libs—phrases he inserted completely out of the blue.

10. “Are you listening Ohio and Michigan?”
9. “This Republican narrative, this alternate universe. . .”
8. “It passes the arithmetic test and more important, it passes the values test.”
7. “We gotta deal with this before it deals with us.”
6. “Democracy does not have to be a blood sport.”
5. “The old economy is not coming back.”
4. “Now you’re having a good time but this is getting serious and I want you to listen.”
3. “This is personal to me.”
2. George Washington was accused of being a “surveyor with a bad set of wooden false teeth.”
1. “You got to admit, it takes some brass to attack a guy for what you did.”

That's vintage Clinton.


So now we have two successful night, and Obama is sure to get a huge bounce from this convention.  Some pundits, after hearing Clinton, were ready to state that the election is over.  I wouldn't be so sure — the GOP has lots more money, and they'll get more disingenuous as they get more desparate.

But as for tonight, I don't think Obama has to clear the bars set by his wife and Clinton.  He just needs to get near them, an easy task for such a skilled orator.  And THEN maybe I'll say, the game's over.

UPDATE: FWIW, fact-checkers today are calling Clinton's many facts and statistics generally accurate.

Earthquake in Costa Rica

I probably wouldn't normally report on this, but I was just there last year.

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck at 10:42 a.m. ET at a depth of about 25 miles and about seven miles southeast of Nicoya, a town of some 15,000 people on a coastal area on the Pacific about 90 miles from the capital San Jose.


7.6 is very strong, and this area, like much of rural CR, has shack-like homes poised precariously on hillsides.  This can't be good.

UPDATE:  Quake was deep.  This is good news — damage may be limited.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Well, Damn

Looks like my credientials are no good:

Obama acceptance speech moved indoors

By NBC's Mark Murray

First Read has confirmed that Democrats are moving their convention — including President Obama's acceptance speech — indoors for Thursday night at the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Thursday's events had originally been scheduled to take place at Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers play football.

"Due to weather," an Obama campaign official says of the venue change.

And according to a press release, convention planners are specifically citing thunderstorms. 

 And I bought a new Obama shirt and everything.

Sad, but necessary, says Ed Gilgore:

I don't know if you've ever been in an outdoor sports arena when thunderstorms or high winds appeared, but it can be a scary experience. I was once at a Braves game at the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on a hot summer evening when large clouds began collecting and then rotating directly over the field, and without any prompting from the umps, the players stopped and stared, along with all of us in the stands, at the sky, half-expecting a funnel cloud to drop right in. Turned out all we endured was a gully-washing rain, but it was alarming nonetheless.

So when Republicans offer their unsubstantiated claims that the weather is an excuse for cancelling a venue organizers might not have filled, keep in mind what would have happened had Democrats brought 75,000 people (or less, if the weather kept some people home or stuck in traffic) into a violent storm without shelter.

  Severe Weather Forecast at Democratic National Convention Affects President Speech Ticket Holders   krashford   Gmail

DNC, Day One

I only caught bits and pieces on the radio, mostly of Michelle's speech.  The latter was moving — she is hands down the best First Lady speaker this country has ever seen (and I put Hillary Clinton in that category).  CBS reported that she wrote it herself, and worked on it for more than a month.

UPDATE:  Michelle Obama's speech was written at a 12th grade reading level; Ann Romney's was written at a 5th grade reading level.

Consider how Romney delivers the following passage on wives and mothers, in her purported attempt to close the gender gap for her husband's campaign:

"You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you. Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises."

But when Michele Obama addressed the subject of women in her speech, she took a different tactical approach, incorporating much longer sentences into her speech, such as the following passage about the president's grandmother:

"And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack's family continued to scrape by."

The content of what she said was appropriate.  She discussed her husband on a personal level, reminding everyone that we liked HIM.  Like Ann Romney, she discussed "the lean years" wioth her husband, although, in Michelle's case, it was much more convincing.

FLOTUS' account of her and POTUS' early years rings a little more genuine than eating pasta while living off stock options.

— @AJentleson via web

But she also made the case for "stay the course", noting that change is hard, that it takes a long time, and that some people (e.g., Republicans) do all that they can to resist it.

More importantly, she spoke on what clearly is to be a theme of the convention: the philosophical differences between Obama and Romney and, on a larger scale, Democrats and Republicans.  

Michelle Obama shows how you use a personal story – weave it into your political philosophy & show how it reflects your political values

— @speechboy71 via Twitter for Mac

This was best exemplified by this:

He's the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work… because for Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives.

She went on:

We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.

We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square.

We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect.

There's more like this.  It was remarkable how she kicked Romney's ass without ever mentioning his name.  Not once.

Michelle's take on success was is in stark contrast to what one heard from the GOP convention, where "success" seemed to be defined almost exclusively as "running your own business".   I'm also struck by the contrast with Ann Romney's speech:

It's true that Mitt has been successful at each new challenge he has taken on. It amazes me to see his history of success actually being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great? As a mom of five boys, do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success? Do we send our children out in the world with the advice, "Try to do… okay?"

Let's see how the ugly right took Michelle's speech — from the comments at Glenn Beck's Blaze (via Jesus' General)

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:58pm
Can’t people see that she is clearly a Demon. Obama the Devil. We lost and Romney idiots secured his victory. Thanks for dividing us Republicans. Maybe you should have joined with Paul Supporters. You didn’t have to change the rules to win, so why even do it? You could have won fair and square with Romney and Romney could have gave Ron Paul a Cabinet spot and we could have destroyed Obama but NOOOOO… You act like cowards and divide us so the Dictator wins. Thanks Guys. Thanks

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:50pm
Every time Odumbo visits a Catholic or other Christian schools, he has them cover up the Lord’s picture, and cover the name Jesus. Who the hell does he think he is and piss on the schools to do it!

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 12:04am
Get a clue! Obama believes that he is the 12th imam, AKA the Aniti-Christ! Who else would visit a church and demand that Christ be hidden from his sight? WHO? NO ONE- that’s who!
Seriously? Why go to a church unless to deceive? Yet his minions in the media remain oblivious….

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:48pm
Yes, Michelle – I agree that the mask has come off, and your husband has shown us who he really is: a man who grew up cut off from American society, mentored by radical communists, and supported by homegrown terrorists who planted bombs on our own soil. A man who attended an anti-American, racist hate-filled church for 20 years, and thinks he has the power to reverse global warming through the dismantling of the American Energy Industry. A man who openly said he would endorse the murder of his own grandchildren, supports every bizzare and disgusting form of abortion ever vomited out of hell, and rips at the very fabric of our moral fibers by espousing homosexuality.

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:46pm
He’s lived the dream all right. Been taken care of by the likes of Soros, never worked a real job, who knows if he really did go to collage, hides all his records, including any student loans he may have had (NOT) got a sweet deal on his big house in Chi Town. The obama’s have done nothing, but use Chicago politics, help out there cronies, and have chilled on the Taxpayers dime, certainly the past 3 and one half years……..
Michelle will probably write a cookbook for kids, and a bunch of suckers will buy it, thinking she knows better than you do on how to prepare a healthy meal……….

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:48pm
I realize this is gonna be a kind of petty comment but… ummm… Michelle is kinda manly looking right?

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:40pm
I though it was a terrible speech, I can’t figure where everybody is getting all this praise from. All I Can consider is they are afraid of being labeled racist. Those DNC folks were chanting like something out of Nazi Germany, with roars sounding similar to what I hear during European football matches.. I kept waiting to hear one of those long yellow plastic horns to be blown .. :BBRRRRRRR hahaha and I never heard the USA chants, not once all night …

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:38pm
Oh. I will say it has revealed who the real Obama is. A marxist, anti American, choom smoking, fraud who is steering America towards ruin by design unless we put a stop to it this November. It is up to us since the spineless House members are to scared to impeach this traitor.

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 11:56pm
As a Senator – we knew nothing about Obama, but yes Michelle is right, as President, especially off script and without a prompter, we found out exactly what he is, an anti-American, Colonial hating, Capitalist hating, success hating, tear down America’s greatness and bring it down to be a nothing in a crowd President….


Apparently, women's issues and abortion was dealt with heavily in Day One, causing CNN's conservative contributor to tweet:

First night of the Vagina Monologues in Charlotte going as expected.

— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) September 5, 2012

Very funny.  [UPDATE:  Oops.  Erick stepped in it.  There's a petition to get him removed from CNN.  Go sign it.]

Anyway, here's the complete Michelle Obama speech:


UPDATE: Twitter reports that Michelle Obama's speech generated nearly twice as many tweets per minute as Mitt Romney's speech

Dumbest PAC Ad (So Far)

Did you know that Obama is going to send the troops to force you to gay marry?

Apparently so, according to this ad from a pro-Romney super PAC with ties to evangelist Gary Bauer.  The Campaign for American Values ad attacks President Obama for his support of marriage equality. In the ad, called “New Morning,” an opposite sex couple expresses concern that “Obama is trying to force gay marriage on this country.” The husband suggests that they should vote for Mitt Romney, because he’s the only candidate with “values.” Apparently supporting the million same-sex families who are raising children by legally protecting their unions doesn’t count as a “value.” Watch: