Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Stage Managed “Relief Effort”

It was an awkward question: how does a campaign promise to cancel a political rally then hold it anyway? For Mitt Romney, it was simply a matter of rebranding.

In Ohio, yesterday, the Republican wanted credit for being sensitive to the victims of Hurricane Sandy and canceling a scheduled rally. He also wanted to hold the rally. So the same event was held at the same time, in the same venue, with the same celebrities and same campaign movie, but the rally was called a "storm relief event."

But there was another problem: what if supporters showed up without materials to drop off? Team Romney prepared for that, too — the night before the partisan rally "relief event," campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on "granola bars, canned food, and diapers," which could then be displayed for cameras.

What's more, local voters who wanted to shake Romney's hand were at risk of messing up the photo-op, so they were stage managed, too.

As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan t-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, "You need a donation to get in line!"

Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, "What if we dropped off our donations up front?"

The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. "Just grab something," he said.

Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their "donations" to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest "Thank you."

It's reminiscent of Paul Ryan's recent stop to an Ohio soup kitchen. The Republican ticket is principally concerned with giving the appearance of assistance.

How Romney Is Losing Ohio

By lying, and getting called out on it.

It's not just Chrysler. A radio ad for Mitt Romney includes General Motors in his campaign's false claims that, because of President Barack Obama, American auto manufacturers will be moving jobs from the U.S. to China, and GM is not happy with Romney:

"At this stage, we're looking at Hubble telescope-length distances between campaign ads and reality. GM's creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country should be a source of bipartisan pride," GM spokesman Greg Martin said. "We've clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country."

False campaign ads telling swing state voters they're going to lose their jobs because of Obama may be a way to scare up some Romney votes. But forcing two giant, high-profile swing state employers to denounce your lies to their workers and the world—going into detail along the way about all the jobs they've created and will continue to create in the U.S.—may just undercut that fear-mongering effort.


Michael "Brownie" Brown, the former FEMA director famously known for botching Katrina in part by dragging his feet, accuses Obama of reacting too quickly to Sandy.


BTW, kudos to Republican governor Chris Christie.  “The president was great last night,” Christie said on FOX today. “He said he would get it done. At 2 a.m., I got a call fromFEMA to answer a couple of final questions and then he signed the declaration this morning. So I have to give the president great credit. He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 24 hours. He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done — as far as I’m concerned — a great job for New Jersey.”

Awkward Quote Of The Day

Romney's NOT campaigning today in Ohio, so listen to how he's talking to an audience today in Ohio at a Romney "storm relief event" after they show a Romney promotional film:

“We’re counting on Ohio. I know the people of the Atlantic Coast are counting on Ohio and the rest of our states,” he said, after urging them to donate to the American Red Cross or another relief agency. “But I also think the people of the entire nation are counting on Ohio.  Because my guess is – my guess is that if Ohio votes me in as president, I’ll be the next president of the United States.”

"Um, but… Sandy! Relief!" he then added quickly afterwards.

Yes, Mitt Is Campaigning

Mitt Romney has suspended his campaign out of concern and sympathy for Sandy, except… he hasn't.

He's in Ohio right now, at a "storm relief event".

Here's the press pass given to NPR's Ari Shapiro…


It looks like a VICTORY RALLY to me.

Here's a sign there….


Here's the Romney campaign video playing…


And here's a Politico reporter reporting on the music and events…


As the tweet above notes, there IS, apparently, a roped off area where you can get supplies, but otherwise… yeah, it's a campaign rally.

Oh, well.


Enjoy The Satellites While We Have Them

It's worth noting that those space images of Sandy that are not only cool but actually help scientists predicts its path and strength — well, they come from satellites which are nearing or past the end of their functional lives, and we have no replacement satellites scheduled to be launched for a few years.

And if Republicans have their way and follow the Paul Ryan budget, we may not have replacement satellites at all.




Financial Markets Closed Tomorrow

This is the first time since 1885 that financial markets have been closed two days in a row due to weather.

Meanwhile, in Red Hook, Brooklyn….


Also, Sandy this morning, from space…


Dangling crane on 57th Street — look out below!


FDR drive today…


*  Tall ship "Bounty" reported sunk off NC

And then there's this:

Hurricane Sandy Live Stream

“It’s The Hurricane Disaster Relief Effort… Brought To You By Federal Express!”

With Sandy bearing down on us, it's important to remember that Romney thinks things like FEMA should be left to the states and/or privatized.


In this clip, Romney was asked at a debate for the Republican presidential candidates about emergency-response efforts, and he suggested FEMA should be shuttered, moving responsibility to the states.

"Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.

"Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do?"

Asked specifically about the federal government playing a role in disaster relief, Romney added, "We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids."

Again, in context, he wasn't talking about debt reduction in the abstract; Romney was specifically talking about FEMA and the federal role in responding to communities hit by disasters.

He went on to say, by the way, that keeping FEMA and other federal programs is "immoral".

And this wasn't just Lying GOP debate talk; Romney's present budget plan would mean at least a 34% cut to FEMA's budget.


During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney mocked Obama’s pledge to address climate change, turning it into a punch line.

“President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans — [bites lip and pauses for audience laughter(!)] — and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”

Why was "rise of the oceans" so funny?

Absolutely-Real Not-At-All Fake Video Of Ann Dunham Giving Birth To Barack Obama

Here it is.  Proof!  Absolutely proof that Obama was indeed born in Kenya.


 Here's the story behind to absolutely-real not-at-all-fake video.

And you can tell it's real because filming births on Super 8 film was so commonplace in 1961.

Also, the medical chart (right next to a Kenyan flag) conveniently says that the Woman giving birth is Ann Dunham.  Oh sure, you would expect that, in 1961, she would have gone by her married name, Ann Obama, but that just shows how dumb you are.


And of course on that medical chart, at the very end of the film, you can see that the Kenyan hospital had access to Ann Dunham's high school yearbook photo, as any Kenyan hospital would.

But the thing that really makes this video absolutely-real and not-at-all-fake is that fact that Ann Dunham gives birth to a very gargantuan and somewhat confused baby Obama, who emerges in a slightly damp state from her vajayjay, umbilical cord not needed.  And like the future leader that he is, Baby Barack is alert, ready to read books, and perhaps shoot a view hoops after being smothered underneath his mother's skirt.

The ball is in your court, Mr. Obama.

Seriously, Folks. This Is Looking Bad.


writes NOAA’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC).

Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan noted there has only been one tropical storm with the pressure below 960 mb in the last 60 years in the Northeast.

Bob Henson of the University Center for Atmospheric Research adds:

While a couple of hurricane landfalls in Florida have produced pressures in this range, most cities in the Northeast have never reached such values, as is evident in this state-by-state roundup. The region’s lowest pressure on record occurred with the 1938 hurricane at Bellport, Long Island (946 hPa).

You might ask yourself, aren’t hurricanes supposed to weaken as they head north? Why are these pressures so low? Or as the Weather Channel’s Bryan Norcross put it: “What the hell is going on?”

Norcross’ answer: “This is a beyond-strange situation. It’s unprecedented and bizarre… The strong evidence we have that a significant, maybe historic, storm is going to hit the east coast is that EVERY reliable computer forecast model now says it's going to happen.”

What does he mean?  Well, it has a lot to do with upper atmosphere pressure, etc., but the simple explanation is this: the clash of the cold blast from the continental U.S. and the massive surge of warm, moist air from Hurricane Sandy will cause the storm to explode and the pressure to crash.

WJLA meteorologist Ryan Miller notes 66,549,869 people live in the National Hurricane Center’s track zone for Sandy. A large percentage of these people will likely contend with tropical storm force winds – 40-60 mph, if not somewhat greater.

Let's conclude with this note posted in the blog by AccuWeather senior Vice President Mike Smith:

A very prominent and respected National Weather Service meteorologist wrote on Facebook last night,

I’ve never seen anything like this and I’m at a loss for expletives to describe what this storm could do.


Wingnuts Go Apocalyptic Over Latest Obama Ad

Here's the ad:


A young attractive woman (actress Lena Dunham) talks about her "first time"….. the first time she voted for Obama.

It's cute, and a little edgy (and not too original)

Well, conservatives are clutching the pearls and clearing the shelves at Fainting Couches R' Us (and just as they were recovering from Obama's use of the word bullshiter, too!)

CNN contributor Erick Erickson came unglued:

What's worse than the Obama as is that some people really like it. We do live in a fallen, depraved world destined for the fire.

— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) October 25, 2012

Romans 1 teaches that when God turns a people loose the first sins they embrace are the sexual lusts of the flesh.

— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) October 26, 2012

And there were others.  Ace from Ace of Spades:

It's hideous.

It's not funny, it's not cute, and it's not persuasive, unless you think the important issues in this campaign are Binders Full of Birth Control.

It underlines the essential triviality of Obama and his Government Client & Upper Upper Class White Voter agenda. There is nothing to his campaign except very small social-progressive appeals to people who are simply not affected by the economy, whether they are too poor to notice a bad economy, immunized from the economy by being a government worker, or so rich they have nothing at all to fear from a bad economy.

It continues to be weird that Democrats want so bad to have sex with their cult leader. But I guess that's a central part of the cult thing.

And more:

Kathryn Lopez: "It's as if every day the Obama campaign gives me another reason to see how clearly we a new president — for the sake of our politics and our culture."

Adrian Gray: "That Lena Dunham ad was a very risky move for any campaign. And even more surprising it was approved by the father of two girls."

Liz Mair: "So voting for Obama is like losing your virginity? A dude cooked that one up, right? Because for us girls, that means you're saying it's painful."

Stacy Washington: "The #MyFirstTime ad is the height of vulgarity. Tell me #Democrat Moms: Is this how you want the president talking to your daughters?"

Andrea Chapman: "You don't want your first time to be with #Obama because his stimulus package didn't deliver as promised."

Kat McKinley: "Does one get the feeling Hugh Hefner is running the Obama campaign?"

Kristina Ribali: "Be careful ladies . . . You don't want to be punished with an Obama."

Kevin Eder: "I've now watched it four times. I refuse to believe that it's a real, actual thing." He adds, "Dear college kids: trust me on this, having a job when you graduate is WAY more 'cool' than voting for Barack Obama. I PROMISE."

Moe Lane: "I know I'm supposed to be shocked by Obama's new NSFW ad, but instead I'm embarrassed. It's like walking in on my parents having sex. I mean, you know that your parents — or your President — is aware of sex. You just don't need to VISUALIZE it."

NY Dem49: "Word of advice for Obama, don't create an ad you wouldn't be comfortable with your daughter reciting."

Hideous?  Vulgar?

This from the party who thinks that God gift-wraps babies as prizes for the lucky ladies who get raped?

Go check the female gap, Republicans.  It's still, and always will be, heavily Democratic.  And this is why — because of your freakout and disparagement over sexually active women.

Anyway, I wouldn't worry.  Cute Lena Dunham vid may be hit with young voters. The pushback from offended white males over 55 isn't going to change their minds.

UPDATE:  By the way, it's no different than this ad from the Republican National Committee:


Well, Lesley Gore has something to say:



Who said this?

I know what it’s like to pull the Republican lever for the first time, because I used to be a Democrat myself, and I can tell you it only hurts for a minute and then it feels just great.

Ronald Reagan

Sandy Frankenstorm

Forecasters are predicting that Hurricane Sandy will meet up with a winter storm, creating a rare thing that they are calling "Frankenstorm":

Government forecasters on Thursday upped the odds of a major weather mess, now saying there's a 90 percent chance that the East will get steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and maybe snow starting Sunday and stretching past Halloween on Wednesday.

Meteorologists say it is likely to cause $1 billion in damages.


One of the more messy aspects of the expected storm is that it just won't leave. The worst of it should peak early Tuesday, but it will stretch into midweek, forecasters say. Weather may start clearing in the mid-Atlantic the day after Halloween and Nov. 2 in the Northeast, Cisco said.

"It's almost a weeklong, five-day, six-day event," Cisco said Thursday from NOAA's northern storm forecast center in College Park, Md. "It's going to be a widespread serious storm."

With every hour, meteorologists are getting more confident that this storm is going to be bad and they're able to focus their forecasts more.


Both private and federal meteorologists are calling this a storm that will likely go down in the history books.

"We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting," Cisco said.

It is likely to hit during a full moon when tides are near their highest, increasing coastal flooding potential, NOAA forecasts warn. And with some trees still leafy and the potential for snow, power outages could last to Election Day, some meteorologists fear.

Some have compared it to the so-called Perfect Storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991, but Cisco said that one didn't hit as populated an area and is not comparable to what the East Coast may be facing. Nor is it like last year's Halloween storm, which was merely an early snowstorm in the Northeast.

"The Perfect Storm only did $200 million of damage and I'm thinking a billion," said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private service Weather Underground. "Yeah, it will be worse."


Romney-mentum? Nope.

Yes, Romney clearly did have things going for him for the two weeks following the first debate.  But that's all gone now…

Nate Silver looks at the daily tracking polls for today, and it's Obama's gain:


Silver writes:

Take Wednesday’s national tracking polls, for instance. (There are now eight of them published each day.) Mr. Romney gained ground in just one of the polls, an online poll conducted for Reuters by the polling organization Ipsos. He lost ground in five others, with President Obama improving his standing instead in those surveys. On average, Mr. Obama gained about one point between the eight polls.

The trend could also be spurious. If the race is steady, it’s not that hard for one candidate to gain ground in five of six polls (excluding the two that showed no movement on Wednesday) just based on chance alone.

What isn’t very likely, however, is for one candidate to lose ground in five of six polls if the race is still moving toward him. In other words, we can debate whether Mr. Obama has a pinch of momentum or whether the race is instead flat, but it’s improbable that Mr. Romney would have a day like this if he still had momentum.

Silver gives Obama a 71% chance of winning the electoral college, and his math projects a 50.2% to 48.8% popular vote win.

I'm a little less optimistic, but the polls today are good (Obama up in Virginia!), and Dems have every reason to stop despairing.

Been Busy…

I've been out of the loop for the past couple days.  I'm sure I didn't miss much, because the debates are over, and now it's the home stretch.  The candidates will be covering the country coast to coast — er, I mean Ohio coast to coast, as they sprint through these last two weeks of the election.  So there's probably not much for me to comment on, which is fine because I'm happy to —



Oh, for crying out loud.  Obama?  Your response.


Game, set, match.

Ok.  Hopefully that's the last Republican silliness we'll see for a whi–


Ohhhhhh, man.

Now, Richard Mourdock wants you to know — he really wants you to know (because he's said it in numerous press conferences since) — that he wasn't saying that rape is a gift from God.  No.  Just the products of rape are gifts from God.

In other words, if a rapist gives you lemons, carry the lemons to term and make lemonade!!

Seriously warped.

Well, ok.  At least he's not a prominent Republican or Tea Party person.  At least those people are having the good sense to —

Sarah-Palin-Shuck-and-Jive (1)

In case you can't read it, Palin wrote: "Obama's Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies."

She also used the term in the text of the post, which concludes, "President Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end."

Oh, good.  A racist reference.  From the Urban Dictionary:

To shuck and jive" originally referred to the intentionally misleading words and actions that African-Americans would employ in order to deceive racist Euro-Americans in power, both during the period of slavery and afterwards. The expression was documented as being in wide usage in the 1920s, but may have originated much earlier.

"Shucking and jiving" was a tactic of both survival and resistance. A slave, for instance, could say eagerly, "Oh, yes, Master," and have no real intention to obey. Or an African-American man could pretend to be working hard at a task he was ordered to do, but might put up this pretense only when under observation. Both would be instances of "doin' the old shuck 'n jive."

Okay. Sarah wins.

Bayonets and Horses And How To Stop Digging A Hole When You’re In It

In last night's debate, President Barack Obama basically humiliated Mitt Romney in response to his lie about the size of the U.S. Navy, pointing out that if we have fewer ships than in 1916, "we also have fewer horses and bayonets." Republicans apparently leapt to their keyboards, Googled away and, instead of slinking away in hopes that voters also wouldn't hear that the Navy had fewer ships under George W. Bush in 2007, thought "we can win this horses and bayonets thing."

And so it was that Republicans from Fox News to to Michelle Malkin rose up and shrieked "THE MILITARY DOES TOO USE HORSES AND BAYONETS" and then proceeded to dance about, sticking their tongues out, thinking they'd scored major points and proven that the president doesn't know anything about the military. Because, OMG, Special Forces rode horses into the mountains of Afghanistan and Marines are trained in bayonet use and it's disrespectful of our troops to suggest that horses and bayonets are maybe not the tools by which we measure our military strength today. Also, the bayonet industry was highly insulted, and we can't have that. Bayonet corporate people have feelings, too.

The little detail Republicans have ignored, of course, is that the president didn't say we have no horses and bayonets, he said we have fewer horses and bayonets. Not to mention that:

[…] a 2011 article in military newspaper Stars and Stripes (which is a Department of Defense authorized news outlet), highlighted the changing role of the bayonet in the military. The article explained that there hasn't been a bayonet charge since the Korean War and that "U.S. army units have not issued soldiers bayonets to Iraq and Afghanistan." (Nonetheless, the article noted that soldiers would still be trained to use a bayonet, just in a different capacity.)

To summarize, Obama said we have fewer horses and bayonets, not none, which is correct. He further noted that we have aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines, which is also correct. Romney, on the other hand, was basing his (false) argument on the notion that a 1917 ship is directly equivalent to an aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine. And Republicans think they have something to crow about here? We knew they want to take the country backward, but this is carrying things a little far.

PPP: Obama Wins Debate by 11 Points in Swing States

Good polling news:

PPP's post debate poll in the swing states, conducted on behalf of Americans United for Change, finds that Barack Obama was the big winner in tonight's face off. 53% of those surveyed in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin think Obama was the winner to 42% who pick Romney.

Obama's winning margin among critical independent voters was even larger than his overall win, with 55% of them picking him as the winner to 40% for Romney. The sense that Obama was the winner is pretty universal across different demographics groups- women (57/39), men (48/45), Hispanics (69/29), African Americans (87/13), whites (49/45), young voters (55/40), and seniors (53/43) all think Obama came out ahead tonight.

Maybe even more important than the sentiment on who won the debate is who folks in these swing states are planning to vote for now: 51% of them say they're going to support Obama to 45% who stand with Romney. That includes a 46/36 advantage for Obama with independents, and Obama also seems to have made a lot of progress with groups he was previously down by wide margins with. Among men (50/47) and whites (50/46) he is trailing only slightly and with seniors he's actually ahead 52/47.

Tonight's debate was more a win for Obama than a loss for Romney. Romney, despite losing, came out with 38% of voters now saying they're more likely to vote for him to 35% who say they're less likely to for a +3 positive spread. Obama just came out even better with 37% of voters saying they're more likely to vote for him to 31% who are less likely to for a +6 spread.

Interestingly Obama only came out of the debate as the candidate trusted more on foreign policy by a 51/47 margin, much closer than his overall victory in the face off. That suggests the points Obama scored on 'off topic' issues might have been more important than anything he said about foreign policy.

Full results here


Post-Debate Mortem

Well, despite my enthusiasm last night, Romney did manage to get a bit more energized, so it didn't turn out to be the trouncing that it appeared half way through.  Oh, Obama won.  Is say so.  So did the polls.  But it was clear that Romney wasn't trying to win; he just didn't want to be knocked out.  And he did this in much the same way that boxers avoid being knocked out — by clutching your opponent.

And Romney did, on almost every foreign policy question, embrace what Obama had done.  This allowed Obama to talk about how Romney was all over the map on foreign policy, contradicting himself from what he has said earlier.  


It seemed they only had one large difference on foreign policy, and that was military spending, and Obama dlievered the smackdown there:


It was a good night for Obama supporters.  Neo-cons have to be a little disturbed, and indeed they were.  Undecided moderates fell for Obama, who looked stronger and more in control.

But does it make any difference?  Only at the margins.  Meaning, only in the swing states.  The candidates veered off topic into economic issues, and it was clear by the way they talked about the auto industry that they were gunning for Ohio.  I'm surprised there are any undecided voters LEFT in Ohio frankly, but there they were: two candidates trying to sop up every Ohio vote.

Now the final stretch.  I'm still optimistic.


RIP George McGovern

The last real progressive, before Clinton came along and moved liberalism to the center.

Ed Gilgore remembers what-could-have been, the Nixon-McGovern presidential campaign race of 1972, and how it changed politics forever:

It's hard to overstate how shocking the 1972 results were to a lot of Democrats, particularly impressionable young folk like I was at the time. The adjective most often used to describe McGovern as a person, then and right up until his death, was "decent." That was never a term associated with Richard M. Nixon. After running a textbook nomination campaign that perfectly exploited the new primary-based system that he and his staff understood much better than their rivals, McGovern's general election campaign was a disastrous comedy of errors, beginning, of course, with the hasty choice of a running-mate who had to be discarded almost immediately, a fine acceptance speech that virtually no one saw (it was delivered between 2:00 and 3:00 AM EDT), and then the serial abandonment or repudiation of the ticket by a vast number of Democratic elected officials and interest groups.

Nixon, by contrast, capped a first-term record of almost systematic betrayal of everything he'd promised (or seemed to promise) to do by cooking up a phony peace offensive, deliberately inflating the economy, and making systematic raids on Democratic constituency groups. And oh, yeah, he also instigated and then covered up the series of nefarious activities later known collectively as Watergate. Whereas McGovern could not buy a break, Nixon got nothing but breaks, most notably the sidelining by attempted assassination of George Wallace, whose 1968 vote went almost uniformly into Nixon's 1972 column.

To add insult to injury, McGovern took the blame for the first and most dramatic election in which the collapse of the New Deal Coalition became fully manifest. Humphrey's near-win in 1968 distracted attention from the fact that he won the lowest percentage of the popular vote of any major-party candidate since Alf Landon. In 1976 Jimmy Carter disguised the structural trends by winning the South and southern-inflected voters in border states and the midwest–voters who, by and large (aside from the Deep South regional loyalists who stayed with Carter in 1980), weren't going to vote Democratic in a presidential election again. When Fritz Mondale got blown out in 1984, it represented the fourth time in five cycles that the Democratic candidate won less than 43% of the popular vote nationally. Yet this era of defeat is very often associated with McGovern alone.

McGovern’s death has brought many reminders that even as he lost big chunks of the Democratic coalition in 1972, he attracted elements of a new coalition that would eventually help bring Democrats back to parity and occasional majority status decades later. It was no accident that his 1972 campaign manager, Gary Hart, challenged the old interest-and-identity-group foundation of the party in 1984, coming remarkably close to winning on a message that was basically the idea of new ideas. And for all the conventional analysis of the Democratic Party on left-center ideological lines, the Clintonian movement in the party owed a lot in its strategic thinking and self-conscious independence from what it called The Groups to the original McGovern campaign. And the connections were personal: Bill and Hillary Clinton, after all, more or less ran McGovern’s general election campaign in Texas, and most of the nascent New Democrat types in the 1990s had been Hart supporters in 1984.

So McGovern’s political legacy is a bit more complicated than the usual tale of the honest but feckless progressive who proved himself too good for the American people. And it’s not quite right to say, as some have, that McGovern was fully vindicated by the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation. After the Carter interregnum, Nixon’s political and policy legacy continued to dominate the White House for three more terms, and certainly the Imperial Presidency and the temptation to exhibit it through irresponsible military action that McGovern protested in 1972 are as strong as ever today, and not just in the GOP.

The “too good to be president” meme is also unfortunate in a different sense: it fed an undercurrent of feeling among progressives identifying political strength with aggressiveness as thoroughly as conservatives identify national strength with militarism. McGovern and his campaign made plenty of mistakes, to be sure, but it’s hard to look back at 1972 and identify some moment when more viciousness and less decency would have made a positive difference.

In most respects, McGovern was simply in the wrong place (politically, not morally or substantively) in the wrong time, but in the end inspired more admiration than mockery, particularly among progressive baby boom generation activists who so often looked back at 1972 as the ultimate baptism of fire. May this good man and great patriot rest in peace.


Tonight’s Debate

I'm not sure what to say about tonight's debate, except to opine that I don't think it will matter much.  It's foreign policy, and people don't care about that.  I expect viewership will be low.

Romney, if her's smart, should make the debate about his views and policies, rather than trying (as he did last debate) to prosecute Obama about Obama's views and policies.  But Mitt might try to throw some bombs, trying to imply that the Obama administration is at the head of a scandal.  He flamed out last week on Benghazi, but maybe he will try again on that.  It'll be harder this time, especially since intelligence reports now say what the administration said: it wasn't a heavily planned al Qaeda attack.

Or maybe he will go after Obama on Fast and Furious, although the Inspector General's exhaustive report on the matter suggest there isn't a lot of there there.  At least, nothing that can be pinned on Obama.

And in truth, Romney and Obama agree on many foreign policy issues, save for the fact that Romney likes to thump his chest more.  (Sadly, it's pretty hard to get to the right of the Obama administration with its drone bombings, Gitmo still open, etc.)  

But, there's always the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Romney likes to criticize Obama for pulling out, which places him (Romney) on the losing side of the debate.  Most Americans are war-weary and want our troops home.  Obama is seizing on this with an ad out today:


I probably won't be watching, but if I were, there is one thing — and only one thing — that I would want to see.

And that's Governor Romney repeating the worn-out line that Obama , at the beginning of his presidency, went around the world  "apologizing for America".  That's a right wing meme that has persisted for years.  Factcheck.orgPolitifact, and the Washington Post‘s “Fact Checker” said President Obama never went on an “apology tour” and has never apologized for American actions (the latter gave the claim "Four Pinocchios".  Yet, Romney brings it up.  And I would like to see a smack-down of that.

What Is It With Republicans And Calling Something Terror?

So Romney had a chance to screw Obama on Benghazi, but he blew it.  He decided to make it about when Obama called it an "act of terror" and he got his facts wrong, and he looked really really really stupid.  Obama did in fact call Benghazi an act of terror the very next morning after the attack happened, in the Rose Garden speech.

Now Republicans have a new tack.  Peter King is whining because Obama took 4 minutes to say the word “terror” in his Rose Garden remarks:

"I'm going to use my words very carefully. I think the president's conduct and his behavior on this issue has been shameful. And, first of all, as far as it being an act of terror, the president was almost four minutes into his statement on September 12th before he mentioned an act of terror…. It wasn't until he was well into the remarks."

Oh for crying out loud.

Why does this matter that we label the obvious… and that we do it within (what?) 30 seconds?

When an ambassador and three other Americans die inside a building because an RPG has blasted through the walls, I don't need to be told it was an "act of terror" (as opposed to what — an accident??).  Certainly the President doesn't need to tell us that, and it's not a scandal if he fails to do so.  Unless you're an idiot who needs to be told that.

Don’t Fear The Pollster

Don't worry about national polls.

Early this week, Gallup came out with a national polls showing that Romney was over Obama by 51 to 45.

You would think that is badm but you needed to look at the poll crosstabs from the previous day (when it was 50-46) and compare:

Romney's entire advantage in the poll comes from a massive lead in the South. Now sure, some of that may be Florida, but the state-level polling certainly doesn't show that. So Romney is driving up big margins in Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other such presidentially irrelevant states? Good for him! I'm sure that'll be cold comfort as he loses the states that actually matter in the Midwest and West.

So my advice is to either ignore the national polls, or, if you must, look closely at the crosstabs.

Latest Polls All Over The Place

Polls that show Obama gaining: ABC, IBD/TIPP, RAND, Rasmussen (swing states), Reuters/Ipsos,

Polls that show Romney gaining: Gallup, PPP, Rasmussen (all states)

Polls that can be methodologically dissembled if someone doesn't like the results: All of them.

National Composites
Huffington Post: Obama +0.5
TPM: Romney +1.1
RCP: Romney +0.4

So what does all this tell you? That regardless the toplines, no poll is methodologically pure and perfect. And they disagree with each other. A lot. And substantively at times.

Doesn't matter.  Things will change (for better or worse) tonight.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit abruptly resigned today, leaving the helm of the bank that he guided through the financial crisis of 2008.

Other banks have recovered since 2008.  Not so with Citigroup.  Overall, Citi lost 88 percent of its value under Pandit

So he's stepping down.  Johnny, what do we have for the bank CEO who ruined shareholders' holdings in Citi?

If no alterations are made to Pandit’s compensation package, Citigroup will have paid him about $261 million in the five years since he became CEO, including his personal compensation and about $165 million for buying his Old Lane Partners LP hedge fund in 2007 in a deal that led to his becoming CEO. The bank shut Old Lane soon after Pandit took the post, causing a $202 million writedown.

And that's for a BAD job?

Tripoli, No Benghazi

Keep this in mind when it is brought up in the debate tonight.  According to State Department officials involved, the security requests were for the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tripoli, not Benghazi, the New York Times reported last week:

In a stream of diplomatic cables, embassy security officers warned their superiors at the State Department of a worsening threat from Islamic extremists, and requested that the teams of military personnel and State Department security guards who were already on duty be kept in service.

The requests were denied, but they were largely focused on extending the tours of security guards at the American Embassy in Tripoli — not at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, 400 miles away. And State Department officials testified this week during a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that extending the tour of additional guards — a 16-member military security team — through mid-September would not have changed the bloody outcome because they were based in Tripoli, not Benghazi.

Prez Debate Numero Two

So after a couple of weeks of cunfusion and angst over who is winning the presidential contest– not just by polls, but via "conventional wisdom" (whatever that is) — we're told today by WaPo/ABC and Politico/Battleground/GWU national surveys that things are, well, pretty much the same as they were before the first presidential debate.  The WaPo/ABC puts Obama up by 3 points (49/46) among LVs; Politico et al has him up 49/48. 

So it seems that the so-called "Romney surge," at least in national polls, is over, and we're looking at a contest in which Obama maintains a small lead –not one in which excited conservatives are about to snake-dance to the polls to lift Mitt to a smashing victory over a dispirited president and his demoralized troops.

Of course, those are national polls, and what matters are state polls, particularly in swong states.  Romney now is finally close them up, although Ohio still seems to be out of his reach.

That could all change tomorrow night, of course, when the candidates meet again at Hofstra University.  Obama could be off his game again.  Or Mitt could be so unusually oily (even for him) that Obama just looks bad.

But it will be important to see the fallout, first on the national stage and then within swing states:  Says Nate Silver:

If Mr. Obama gains a net of 2 percentage points after the debate, then he should move ahead in the majority of national polls, and his swing state polls should show a clear advantage for him.

If Mr. Romney does instead, then not only would most national polls give him a lead, but so should some in states like Ohio and Iowa where he has struggled to break through.

But it is a town hall-style debate, which is always fun since the audience gets involved.  And it tends to favor Obama, who "connects" better than Mitt.

Post-Debate Views

Well, both candidates were strong and lively, and I suspect that people who are already decided are pleased with their candidates.  That said, you can sense that the Republicans knew that Biden was better because of the post-debate spin.  Republicans talking points were "Biden smirked and interrupted.  Harumph, harumph" wheres as the Democratic talking points were "Biden won".

Biden was especially strongest, I thought, on social security vouchers — which people don't like — and on letting Afghans fight their own fight instead of sending American troops — which the vast majority of people agree with — and on abortion.  On that latter topic, he made it clear that a Romney/Ryan presidency would threaten that right.

Ryan sounded very good and in control.  However, when you listened to what he was saying, it was mush.  He talked about a "five point plan" to fix the economy.  One of the points was to "encourage economic growth".  Another was "reduce the deficit".  As one focus group panelist said on CNN afterwards, "those are plans; those are goals".

Returning to the Afghan point, Ryan gave Biden the chance to ask him if he preferred that American soldiers carry the fighting in the worst parts of the country rather than Afghan troops, a devastating comeback for which Ryan had no answer.

Ryan was best at his attacks on Joe regarding Bengahzi.  Unfortunately, it's an issue that nobody cares about and fewer understand.

The point is not that Ryan's performance was awful; it wasn't. Rather, Ryan was simply overpowered — where Biden was on the offensive; Ryan was on the defensive. Where Biden was direct; Ryan was evasive. Where Biden was confident; Ryan was in over his head. This line from John Dickerson rings true: "There’s an old line attributed to Bill Clinton: It’s hard for the other guy to talk when your fist is in his mouth. Biden was up to his elbow."

Martha Raddatz performed the role of a professional journalist. Sadly, we see that so infrequently that her performance will be celebrated and/or berated, depending on how you feel about professional journalism.

And the joke of the morning-after:

You know what's the difference between Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan?


And now a breakdown of thought from pundits everywhere….

Biden Dominated Ryan…

CBS News @CBSNews .@CBSNews INSTANT POLL of Undecided Voters: Who won#VPdebate? BIDEN: 50% RYAN: 31% TIE: 19% Live

Larry Sabato@LarrySabato Pretty obvious that Biden had the edge in this debate. Ryan was workmanlike but Biden dominated.

Laura Rozen @lrozen Biden came off as more experienced, trustworthy MT@LarrySabato: Pretty obvious Biden had edge in debate. Ryan workmanlike Biden dominated.

Joe Hagan ‏@joehagansays Translation: Biden won. RT @ryanjreilly: RT @KarlRove: I miss Jim Lehrer.

Michael Hastings @mmhastings Media consensus forming? Biden easily handling Ryan…

David Gregory ‏@davidgregory Advantage here is for Biden. Swarming Ryan. Throwing a lot of punches. Talking a lot. Debating.

Michael Cohen @speechboy71 Agreed RT @davekarpf: I don’t think it was a Biden win. I think it was Biden winmaggedon.

George Zornick @gzornick How you know Ryan lost: RT@thinkprogress: Right-wing trashing debate

Brett LoGiurato @BrettLoGiurato MSNBC declaring Biden the winner. Fox News focusing exclusively on Biden’s smirking.#VPdebate

Garrett Haake @GarrettNBCNews  There’s also this: hearing a lot of conservative sniping at Raddatz. Generally, complaining about the moderator means you think you lost

Larry Sabato ‏@LarrySabato You have to admit, Biden is on fire.

Andrew Sullivan @sullydishnow I think Ryan’s inability to answer that question – how do you pay for it? – has to be the driving question

Paul Begala ‏@PaulBegala  Ryan on defense, big-time. As Mitt said, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

Sam Stein @samsteinhp fair to say Biden is speaking with details and Ryan in broad platitudes. reflects their backgrounds on this subject matter

Ryan Couldn’t Produce Details….

John Heilemann ‏@jheil Biden is a human Politifact tonight.

Sam Stein ‏@samsteinhp fair to say Biden is speaking with details and Ryan in broad platitudes. reflects their backgrounds on this subject matter

Jim Acosta @jimacostacnn Pressed for specifics on how to pay for their tax plan, Ryan declines: “Deny those loopholes and deductions” to wealthy but no details

TIMEPolitics ‏@TIMEPolitics @michaelscherer: Killer question: If Romney elected “should those that believe abortion remain legal be worried”? Ryan had no clear answer”

David Firestone ‏@fstonenyt  Ryan caught without an actual position on when to leave Afghanistan.

Chuck Todd ‏@chucktodd Biden with one of the better responses to the $716B Medicare cut attack I’ve heard from them. Talking to seniors about donut hole; smart

Sam Stein @samsteinhp Paul Ryan seems to be unaware that there are revisions to past jobs reports

ThinkProgress ‏@thinkprogress Ryan claims the Ryan/Romney plan doesn’t increase defense spending by $2 trillion. FALSE 

Patricia Zengerle ‏@ReutersZengerle That $716 billion claim has been repeatedly disputed. …

PolitiFact ‏@politifact  Are Romney-Ryan changing Medicare to voucher plan? That’s Mostly True.  #debate

PolitiFact ‏@politifact  Six studies back up Romney tax plan? Mostly False. #debates

Josh Barro ‏@jbarro  Those “six studies” Ryan talks about? Five are op-eds and blog posts, two of them are by the same author, and none hold water.

Vice President Biden Had the Edge on the Economy…

Jacob Sullum@jacobsullum Biden is right about Bush’s fiscal recklessness. It might help Ryan’s credibility to acknowledge that.#debates

Andrew Sullivan ‏@sullydish Biden finally, finally hits back at the gall of Ryan and Romney and the Republicans in blaming the debt on Obama.

Katty Kay ‏@KattyKayBBC  Biden scoring better on that addictive CNN instant-poll when he talks about economy and the middle class.

Ezra Klein ‏@ezraklein  So will Romney-Ryan pledge to not pass any tax reform that doesn’t include Dem votes? Cause if not, I don’t get this answer.

Vice President Biden Has the Edge on Foreign Policy…

Wall Street Journal: “Is Mr. Biden’s effort to highlight the coalition supporting the trade and financial sanctions on Iran a veiled dig at former President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq without much foreign backing? He seems to be calling Messrs. Ryan and Romney’s bluff on the tough talk about Iran.”

Anthony De Rosa @AntDeRosa Ryan seems a bit out of his element talking about Iran, Biden has far more experience here

Sam Youngman @samyoungman You, sir, are no Ayatollah

Jennifer Epstein @jeneps lots of Ryan-Raddatz crosstalk. now Biden cutting in: “Let me tell you what the ayatollah sees, the economy crippled…”

John Heilemann @jheil Really, Ryan is just talking total crap on the sanctions against Iran.#fact

Jordan Fabian @Jordanfabian  Biden on Iran: “We will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon period.” Suggests GOP might want to go to war with Iran. #debate2012

Michael Cohen @speechboy71 Pretty much nothing that Ryan just said on Iran is true.

Byron Tau ‏@ByronTau Doesn’t Ryan’s admission that they want to solve Iran without war undermine his credibility argument? Credibility would entail possible war?

President Is Aware Of The “Chill The Fuck Out” Meme

The president, speaking during a radio show interview about his debate performance:

Towards the end of the interview, Obama sought to assure listeners that he was still confident, alluding to an internet meme that features him: “As some of these emails that go around with my picture on them say, I can’t quote the entire thing, but ‘I got this.’”

He was referring to this:


I suppose this is as good a time as any for me to weigh in on the panic in some quarters of the left, given that the polls are tightening.  This is what Obama is referring to.

Truth is, I don't have much to say on the subject.  The polls are tightening, but it is no reason to panic.  Obama still has a hold of the key battleground states, particularly Ohio where 18% of likely voters have already voted (and 63% went for for Obama).  The thing is, going into the debates, there weren't a lot of undecideds.  Romney may be picking them up now, and motivating his base, but Obama still leads most places where he needs to lead.

Consider Quinnipiac, which has better news in Virginia:

Virginia 10/4-10/9 (9/11-9/17)
Obama 51 (50)
Romney 46 (46)

Wisconsin 10/4-10/9 (9/11-9/17)
Obama 50 (51)
Romney 47 (45)

Colorado 10/4-10/9 (9/11-9/17)
Obama 47 (48)
Romney 48 (47)

Quinnipiac sees modest movement toward Romney in Wisconsin and Colorado but essentially no change from Obama's post-convention high in Virginia. Every single poll done in Wisconsin has had Obama in the lead, so there's not much risk there. Ohio remains Barack Obama's firewall. If Obama wins there, Romney would have to win in Florida AND North Carolina AND Virginia AND Iowa AND Colorado AND Nevada to win the electoral vote. So you have to ask yourself whose position YOU would rather be in: Romney's or Obama's.

One In Five Americans Have No Religious Affiliation


One in five Americans — and one in three of adults under 30 — is religiously unaffiliated, the highest percentage ever, according to a Pew Research Center study released Tuesday.

Over the past five years, the study found, the number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased from slightly over 15 percent to just under 20 percent, a figure that includes more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics, as well as almost 33 million adults who do not identify themselves with a particular religion.

Survey takers were able to choose from a list that included more than a dozen possible affiliations, including “Catholic,” “Protestant,” "Orthodox," “don't know” and “nothing in particular.”

But, according to the nationwide survey, many of the 46 million unaffiliated adults or so-called "nones" are spiritual or religious in some way:

  • 68 percent say they believe in God.
  • 58 percent say they feel a connection with nature and the Earth.
  • 37 percent say they think of themselves as "spiritual" but not "religious."
  • 21 percent say they pray daily.

As you might expect, the number of religious unaffiliated rises as the age group goes down, and the further left you go.  32 percent of adults under 30 saying they're religiously unaffiliated, compared with only 9 percent of those aged 65 and older.  24 percent of the Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters are religiously unaffiliated.

State Of The Race: It Is Tightening Up

Obama's sub-par performance is taking its toll in the polls.  Most national polls still show Obama still ahead, but the margin is much smaller now.
But as we all know, national polls mean nothing.  It's the state polls.  Especially those of the swing states.  And there, it is tightening as well.  Over at HuffPo, their model still estimates Obama's lead at 2.5 percentage points or better (the threshold used to distinguish "tossup" states from the others on the Election Dashboard map) in Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and another 20 states accounting for 263 electoral votes, just seven shy of the 270 needed to win. The model now shows Romney leading by 2.5 points or better in North Carolina and 23 other states accounting for 206 electoral votes.
Of the four states that hang in the balance, Obama's 2.4 percentage point lead remains more statistically meaningful than the other three states currently classified as "tossups." The model rates the probability that Obama still leads in Ohio, if all votes were cast today, at 91 percent.

This statistical confidence on Obama's lead — essentially another way of describing the "margin of error" for the model's estimates — is smaller for Colorado, just 71 percent. But the model's best guess is that both states would tip to Obama if all votes were cast today, giving him a total of 290 electoral votes. The two remaining tossup states, Virginia and Florida, would tip to Romney, for a total of 248 electoral votes.

Nate Silver, best predictor of the 2008 outcome, is finding the same general trends, although his Nov 8 forecast has Obama winning 307.6 electoral votes to Romney's 230.4.  Put another way, he says Obama has a 78.4% change of winning.  Yes, that's down 6.7% from the end of last month, but it's still "ahead" no matter how you look at it.
UPDATE:  Then again…

In the first national poll to be conducted entirely after the opening presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney now leads President Barack Obama by 4 points.

The poll, conducted by Pew Research Center from Thursday through Sunday and released on Monday, shows Romney leading Obama among likely voters nationwide, 49 percent to 45 percent. That’s a stark contrast from Pew’s mid-September poll after both parties’ conventions, which showed Obama up 8 points among likely voters.

The outrageous attack on BLS

Reprinted in full from the Economic Policy Institute:

Apparently, Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, is accusing the Bureau of Labor Statistics of manipulating the jobs report to help President Obama. Others seem to be adding their voices to this slanderous lie. It is simply outrageous to make such a claim and echoes the worrying general distrust of facts that seems to have swept segments of our nation. The BLS employment report draws on two surveys, one (the establishment survey) of 141,000 businesses and government agencies and the other (the household survey) of 60,000 households. The household survey is done by the Census Bureau on behalf of BLS. It’s important to note that large single-month divergences between the employment numbers in these two surveys (like the divergence in September) are just not that rare. EPI’s Elise Gould has agreat paper on the differences between these two surveys.

BLS is a highly professional agency with dozens of people involved in the tabulation and analysis of these data. The idea that the data are manipulated is just completely implausible. Moreover, the data trends reported are clearly in line with previous monthly reports and other economic indicators (such as GDP). The key result was the 114,000 increase in payroll employment from the establishment survey, which was right in line with what forecasters were expecting. This was a positive growth in jobs but roughly the amount to absorb a growing labor force and maintain a stable, not falling, unemployment rate. If someone wanted to help the president, they should have doubled the job growth the report showed. The household survey was much more positive, showing unemployment falling from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent. These numbers are more volatile month to month and it wouldn’t be surprising to see unemployment rise a bit next month. Nevertheless, there’s nothing implausible about the reported data. The household survey has shown greater job growth in the recovery than the establishment survey throughout the recovery. The labor force participation rate (the share of adults who are working or unemployed) increased to 63.6 percent, which is an improvement from the prior month but still below the 63.7 percent reported for July. All in all, there was nothing particularly strange about this month’s jobs reports—and certainly nothing to spur accusations of outright fraud.

Of course, this flaming of BLS reminds us of the episode where President Nixon thought that BLS was manipulating the unemployment data and as part of some Jewish conspiracy against him. He sent White House personnel director Fred Malek (more recently, the national finance co-chair of the McCain campaign) to count the Jews at BLS. Tim Noah wrote the story a few years ago. The Washington Post also covered it.  The charges were outrageous then and they remain outrageous today.


Video of Romney Cheating

"No props, notes, charts, diagrams or other writings can be used by the candidates; however, they can take notes on the type of paper of their choosing.The candidates cannot ask each other direct questions, but can ask rhetorical questions.The candidates cannot address each other with proposed pledges.Each candidate can use his own makeup artist.No candidate is allowed to use risers or any other device to make them look taller.The Coin Toss: At least 72 hours before the first debate, there will be a coin toss on the order of questioning and closing arguments."

– Debate Rules


UPDATE: Romney campaign says it was a handkerchief.

It Was 50 Years Ago Today

On October 5, 1962, a 45rpm single was released called "Love Me Do," with "P.S. I Love You" on the B-side. It was the very first Beatles single, and it peaked at #17 on the British pop charts. The song went to #1 in the U.S. two years later. The song, written by teenagers John Lennon and Paul McCartney years earlier, was pretty nondescript compared to their later music, but it marked the beginning of a decade-long phenomenon in pop music. The Beatles reached unprecedented popularity in the music industry and are to this day the best-selling band in history.

Unemployment Rate Down To 7.8%

That's the September numbers, and 7.8 is the lowest rate since August 2009.  There's goes Romney's favorite talking point — that the unemployment rate has been above 8% under Obama's leadership.

It also answers the "right direction-wrong direction" question.

Decreases in the jobless rate are not always good news — the figure sometimes falls when discouraged Americans drop out of the workforce altogether — but that's the case with the new data. The employment-to-population ratio went up, job creation went up, and the labor force went up.

In other words, the drop in the unemployment rate is heartening, not discouraging.

There's more good news within the monthly jobs report released today:

– Labor force grows. The labor force grew by 418,000 people, so the drop in the unemployment rate was not due to people giving up on looking for work.

– Revisions shows stronger summer job growth. The number of jobs created in both July and August were revised up, adding a total of 86,000 jobs.

– Public sector finally stopped shedding jobs. State, local, and federal government finally ended a long period of job contraction, adding 10,000 jobs. Revisions show that the public sector created jobs in both July and August.

– Average hourly earnings rise. Earnings rose 7 cents to $23.58. Average hourly earnings have risen by 1.8 percent over the last year.

Believe or not, some conservatives are arguing that the numbers are fake and rigged.

The Morning After

Fun Fact: Winners of first Presidential debates include "Presidents" Mondale, Dukakis, Perot and Kerry.

Still, I'm not comforted.


It's amusing to watch the media narrative congeal.  Last night, it was clear that Romney won; this morning, Romney gave the greatest debate in the modern history of the Republican party.  Maybe that's true, but I certainly didn't feel that way last night.  He was the walk-away winner, that's all.


Obama and his team made the calculated decision not to hit Romney on Bain or the "47% talk" because a) it wouldn’t look presidential and b) it’s already penetrated deep into the political consciousness of the electorate.  Maybe so. But does it ever hurt to repeat the attacks that have been proven to work against your opponent?


Something nobody is talking about this morning, which I didn't understand: Romney said he wouldn't lower taxes on anybody if it would contribute to the deficit.  Won't lowering taxes automatically contribute to the deficit, especially if you intend to increase spending for the military?


Mitt Romney likes coal. Mitt Romney likes Big Bird. He will give money to help coal. He will take money away from Big Bird. Mitt Romney's affection is meaningless.


Check out page 9 of CNN's "snap poll" of the debate, in which 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.  ALL of the respondents — 100% — were white Southern men over the age of 50.

Well done, CNN.


CNN's fact-checking was pretty bad last night, too. This was CNN's John Berman's quick factcheck on the dispute over whether Mitt Romney had anyway to pay for his $5 trillion tax cut for high income earners …

Now let's look at the facts here. Mitt Romney does propose across-the-board, 20 percent tax cuts. The nonpartisanTax Policy Center said under that plan, taxes on the wealthiest Americans would be reduced by $5 trillion initially. Romney said he would offset that by closing loopholes and reducing reductions. So if you take him at his word, our verdict that Mitt Romney would cut taxes on the wealthy by $5 trillion, the verdict here is false.

If you take him at his word?  That's how you fact-check?


There was a lot of bad in what Romney said last night.  For example, his position on pre-existing conditions is terrible.  Top Romney advisor says people with pre-existing conditions will need their states to enact versions of RomneyCare after Obamacare is repealed at the federal level.  Well… what if your state doesn't?

Obama didn't jump on this last night, but hopefully, low-information voters will hear some of that in the days to come.


By the way, Romney moved to the center last night.  Obama didn't notice that either, but it's going to be interesting to see where Romney places himself in the upcoming weeks.  He can't etch-a-sketch much more.


On Intrade, the President began the debate with a 71 percent chance of winning the election. Immediately following the debate, his chances had fallen to just over 67 percent.  Over the course of the day, his odds declined by more than 8 percent.

Romney's odds of winning shot up to 32.3 percent. That means that for the day, Romney's odds of winning rose more than 24 percent.

67% chance of winning the election for Obama is still damn good.


According to Mitt Romney, his children are lying sons of a bitch.


Mitt Romney Adopts New ‘Ronnie Ferocious’ Persona For Debates

Wearing a sleeveless cutoff suit jacket, tight leather pants, and a blue tie knotted around his head of spiky, red-white-and-blue-streaked hair, Romney swaggered on stage, took his position beside Obama, and ordered debate moderator Jim Lehrer to “fucking do this already.”

“You know what? I’ll ask the first question,” the former Massachusetts governor said before putting out his cigarette on his forearm and flicking the butt at Lehrer. “What kind of little shit show do we have here this evening, folks? That’s my question. Because from where I’m standing, seems like a big ol’ shit show. And Lehrer, shut your fat mouth when Ronnie Ferocious is talking, or I’ll pound your goddamn face in.”

“As for you, Mr. President, you can wipe that smug grin off your face or I can do it for you,” he added before sticking out his diamond-pierced tongue and wagging it at everyone in the auditorium. “I don’t need any of that ‘Forward’ shit from you tonight.”

Read the whole Onion piece….

Live Debate Coverage


8:20 pm: In an alternate world, I would be watching the close race in the AL East, as the Yankees and Red Sox battle it out at Fenway.  As it is, the Yankees are creamng the lst place Red Sox.

8:30 pm:  Romney is backstage with family playing Jenga

Embedded image permalink

8:50 pm – I just got an email from Obama saying he won't go onstage unless I donate some money.  *Sigh*

8:55 pm - 

Here’s how Jim Lehrer, the moderator, has decided to structure the 90-minute event.

The Economy – I
The Economy – II
The Economy – III
Health Care
The Role of Government

Each of the segments will run for 15 minutes, and Mr. Lehrer will have the ability to adjust the subject matter of any segment “because of news developments,” according to the Web site of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

9:03 pm – And they're off!  Obama starts by pandering to the First Lady. Romney: "I disagree with your decision to marry Michelle. On Day One, I'll reverse it."

9:06 pm – Romney hits specifics with 5 points.  Uses "trickle down government".  Not as catchy as he thinks.

9:11 pm – Ok, I'm bored.

9:12 pm – Romney calls it the "economy tax".  Does he have a new vocab word for everything?

9:15 pm - Mitt: "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut. Where'd you get that? I've never provided anything close to a detail that you could do math on."

9:21 pm – Mitt lies about his tax plan.

9:24 pm – Mitt telling too many personal anecdote stories.  "I met a guy…"

9:26 pm – Deficit is a moral issue.

9:28 pm – Romney would cut PBS. Does he have any idea how little that would save?

9:34 pm – Romney is actually doing well, but Obama is coming back nicely with taxing oil corporations.

9:44 pm – I have an upset stomach.  For real.  So I missed the last ten minutes.  We've moved onto entitlements?  Okay.

9:46 pm – Obama has a hard time forming a sentence, but what he's saying about vouchers is right.

9:47 pm – Conservative Ben Smith at Buzzfeed has already written his "who won" article

10:03 pm – Romney is lying about Obamacare big time.  What is this board?  There is no board that makes decisions about individual health care. Obama hits Romney: "We used the same advisors, and they say it was the same plan."

 10:10 pm – FINALLY Obama comes out and speaks about Romney's secret plans.

10:16 pm – I like this part about the role of government.  Obama's answer was good; Romney is wrapping himself in the Constitution and God.

10:21 pm – Here's Obama's problem: it tales him 60 seconds to make a point, whereas Romney can say it in 10 seconds.  That's killing Obama.

ZINGER! Romney: "As president, you're entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts."

Ok — not a good one.

10:26 pm – I like what Obama says about trying to work with Republicans; I just wish he could say it better.

10:28 pm – Closing arguments.  Obama should look at the camera for this part; he's not.  Romney is doing it.

Final thoughts:  Odd that the 47% was never brought up. Domestic issues debate skipped environment, LGBT rights, abortion, equal pay, and basically everything other than tax and budget

Substance: Obama.  Style: Romney, big time.  He lies, but at least he's enthused.  And he was in command.  Obama looked pissed that he was there.

A Romney "win"

Quote Of The Day

So yesterday, the Drudge Report, the Daily Caller and Sean Hannity tease everyone, saying that they have a "bombshell video" of Obama in 2007 making racially-charged comments.

And then they revealed the video last night.  It was a speech Obama delivered in 2007, as a presidential candidate, not at some secret fundraiser, but in front of a large audience at Hampton University.

It was hard to tell exactly what about the video was "bombshell".   Obama criticized the government's response to Katrina.  Maybe it was that.  Drudge said that Obama used a cadence in his speech that was overtly racial, which — well, I don't know what that means.  Also Obama mentioned his former pastor, Reverand Wright — an issue played out four years ago.

Rachel Maddow wondered what the purpose of the tape was, saying, "This is supposed to make you believe that in this tape from before he was president, Barack Obama is revealing his secret plan to be way more black than he seems to you now. This is how he snuck into the White House, right? People didn't know he was this black and if they would have known he was this black, they never would have elected. That's the idea here, right?"

But apart from all that, the video was shown five years ago. It's nothing new.  Reporters covered the speech, which wasn't seen as especially controversial, and all the major networks told the public about Obama's remarks at the time.

Which leads to the quote of the day.

Tucker Carlson (who was with CNN back in 2007 and who has been plunging downhill ever since Jon Stewart beat him up) proudly boasted to Hannity on the air last night:

"People will say this has already been reported. Well, actually, it hasn't been reported. And I know because I reported on it the first time."

Um, that counts, Tucker.

Debate Predictions and Thoughts

* The expectations game has been really stupid, with both campaigns trying to convince the media that the other candidate is God's gift to the oratory arts.  Frankly, if either candidate can make it to the podium without tripping, they will try to call themselves the winner.

* What Romney needs to do: Stop trying to be likeable; the time for that is over.  Don't laugh at your own jokes.  Be serious.  Give specifics.  Avoid zingers (he can't do them well).

* What Obama needs to do: Don't go for the jugular.  Be presidential.  Connect with the voter directly, instead of attacking Romney.  Avoid zingers (they're beneath you).  Give specifics.

* What I believe will happen: Romney will attack Obama more than the reverse.  He will try to give what he thinks are specifics, but aren't really.  He will, however, smile less and be less "folksy" in a (successful) attempt to look more presidential.

* Don't expect one-liners or zingers to play a big role.  But watch for demeanor.  Sighs.  Flashes of anger.  Boredom.  Condescension.  These can make a big difference.

* The media creates "who won the debate".  In other words, the news analysis shapes how we perceive the debate more than the debate itself.  Look at this chart:

The things we remember about debates are not the first, or even second thing, we notice about the debates while watching them.  As Sides says, Gerald Ford's famous "Poland gaffe" didn't even register with viewers until the next day, after the media had gotten hold of it. And Al Gore handily won his first 2000 debate with George Bush in every single overnight poll. His famous sighing only became a cause célèbre after the talking heads started talking about it nonstop.

* After the debate, the left (MSNBC) will predictably say Obama won.  The right (Fox) will predictably say Romney won, and complain that the question from Lehrer were biased against Romney.  The objective pundits (there are a few out there) will say it was a "tie", but add that a "tie" works to Romney's benefit since it can show that he has held his own with the President.  All in all, this means that "Romney wins".

Breaking – Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Temporarily Banned


A judge in Pennsylvania issued an injunction Tuesday temporarily barring the state from implementing the requirement that all voters must present an identification at the polls on Election Day.

The state may implement other portions of the law, the ruling said, and the voter ID portion of the law may be enforced in future elections.

From what I can gather, the poll workers can still ask for photo ID, but they cannot deny the vote to someone who doesn't have it.  The ruling applies only to this November's election.  The judge's order is appealable.

Romney’s Debate Strategy

Mitt Romney's debate strategy, according to reporting from The New York Times:

Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy. […]

During rehearsals, Mr. Romney has tried lines of attack suggesting that Mr. Obama distorts the facts and sloughs off responsibility on others. Mr. Romney’s aides recall Mr. Obama’s tart “you’re likable enough” line to Mrs. Clinton in 2008 and hope to goad him into a similarly churlish moment. Mr. Romney will win, the advisers said, if he can force Mr. Obama to come across as condescending or smug.

I suspect this is a head-fake.  I doubt he really is memorizing zingers to zing Obama with.  Sure, a memorable zinger can "win" a debate, but a badly executed obviously-preplanned one will just look awful, and if Romney were smart, he would avoid them.

What Romney should be working on is his demeanor.  The stiff smile, the faux "gosh-I'm-just-regular-folk" stance.  It's weird.  Demeanor, more than zingers, will have a huge effect on the debate outcome (anyone remember Gore's plaintive sighs, or Bush Senior's checking-of-the-watch?).

Either way, Wednesday is going to be fun.