Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sunday panel guests for October 21, 2012

Meet the Press: Marco Rubio, David Axelrod, Rob Portman, Dee Dee Myers, Mike Murphy, Tom Friedman, Helene Cooper, Chuck Todd

Face the Nation: Marco Rubio, Stephanie Cutter, Kevin Madden, Joe Klein, Peggy Noonan, David Sanger, John Dickerson

This Week: Rahm Emanuel, Marco Rubio, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ralph Reed, Van Jones, Greta Van Susteren, Matthew Dowd

Fox News Sunday: Sen. Dick Durban, Sen. Lindsay Graham, Frank Newport

State of the Union: Newt Gingrich, Bill Richardson, Mark Warner, Tom Davis, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Donna Edwards, Dan Balz, Dana Bash

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CIA documents say Obama was right on Libya attack

The Washington Post is reporting that the Romney campaign may have screwed-up in saying that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attacks were not supported by intelligence.

This is according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.

The Post writes:

"Talking points" prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, "The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations."

And this, I find much to the point:

The Benghazi flap is the sort of situation that intelligence officers dread: when politicians are demanding hard "yes" or "no" answers but evidence is fragmentary and conflicting. The political debate has focused on whether the attack was spontaneous or planned, but the official said there's evidence of both, and that different attackers may have had different motives. There's no dispute, however, that it was "an act of terror," as Obama described it the next day.

The official said the only major change he would make now in the CIA's Sept. 15 talking points would be to drop the word "spontaneous" and substitute "opportunistic."

So, there was a demonstration and some bad buys took advantage of the confusion? Whatever happened, it was an act of terror.

Is this really going to be where Romney hangs his hat on Monday?

One point worth making is that I thought Joe Biden did a very good job at the VP debate of suggesting just how complicated international relations are, especially in the context of violence or potential violence. Romney and Ryan want to throw around a bunch of stupid jingoistic platitudes and call it a foreign policy. As stated above, professionals in the field hate this kind of black and white nonsense that fails to appreciate the reality of complex dynamics.

Romney and Ryan aren't ready for the big time, and this is just one more reason why.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Greece pushes back

By Frank Moraes

The BBC reports that there is a general strike in Greece over yet more austerity from their Europe Union partners. This stuff tends to be reported in the United States as though the Greek people are a bunch of ill behaved children who don't want to take their necessary medicine. Most of that is correct—all except the word "necessary." Greece has been through this many times before over the past two years. And what has it earned them? Nothing other than 25% unemployment.

Dean Baker comments that Greece has a lot more leverage than it has had in the past. He points to Argentina in 2002. They were in a huge amount of debt -- more than Greece. So they defaulted. All the Serious People said this was terrible -- it would be a catastrophe for Argentina. But it wasn't. Instead, their economy quickly rebounded -- unlike Greece, which has taken what all the Serious People claim to be the correct path. So what if Greece defaulted and left the Euro?

Greece's economy might finally be able to heal itself. And that would be a catastrophe -- for the Euro Zone. If leaving the Euro was good for Greece, then Spain -- which also has 25% unemployment -- would certainly follow. And then perhaps Italy would leave. And Portugal! And Ireland! The whole damn thing could fall apart.

All the pressure on Greece and the other weak economies in the Euro Zone is coming from Germany. But just like the rich in the United States, they haven't seen that more equity would make their position stronger. Nor have they seen that less equity could greatly harm them. But maybe -- just maybe -- they are starting to see the reality of their situation.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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By Michael J.W. Stickings

At a campaign stop in Fairfax, Virginia yesterday, President Obama hit Romney hard for his shameless flip-flopping, for his opportunistic hypocrisy, and for his blatant dishonesty, lying to voters about who he is and what he stands for just to win some last-minute votes in swing states.

It's an old story but, for the president, a new meme. And it's fantastic. Because if Romney won't stop lying to the American people, it falls on the president now to tell them all about the real Mitt.

Here's the definition:

Romnesia [Rom-nee-zhuh] Noun – a condition affecting Mitt Romney, who has shifted his positions from "severely conservative" to "severely kidding" – conveniently forgetting the conservative promises he's made over the past six years that he's been running for president.

The way the president tells it, it has a sort of Jeff Foxworthy ring to it. And along those lines I'd add this:

If you think tax cuts for the wealthy drive the economy and help the middle class, if you think women should be paid less than men for the same work, if you think there shouldn't be laws banning assault weapons and that violent crime is caused by single-parent homes, and if you think Russia is America's #1 enemy, just to name just a few of Mitt's crazy right-wing views, then you are not -- I repeat, not -- smarter than a 5th grader.

And should not be president. Period.


Anyway, here's the "Romnesia" clip. The president really gets into it. And understandably so. He's been more than respectful of Mitt throughout this campaign. But the only way to respond to Romney's lies is to call him out on them, as he did especially well in the second debate and as he is doing more and more on the campaign trail, and to expose him for what and who he really is:

Now that we're 18 days out from the election, Mr. "Severely Conservative" wants you to think he was "severely kidding" about everything he's said over the last year. He told folks he was "the ideal candidate" for the Tea Party, now suddenly he's saying, "what, who, me?" He's forgetting what his own positions are, and he's betting that you will too.

I mean he's changing up so much – backtracking and sidestepping. We've gotta name this condition that he's going through... I think it's called "Romnesia." That's what it's called. I think that's what he's going through. 

This is one meme that should be a big part of the last two and a half weeks of this race.

And this... (spoiler alert: the conclusion to which he builds through various indications of Romnesia)... this is just brilliant:

If you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the promises that you've made over the six years you've been running for president, here's the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions.

We can fix you up! We've got a cure! We can make you well, Virginia! This is a curable disease.

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A.M. Headlines

U.S. Politics

(Tulsa World): "Romney and Obama head to their debate prep corners"

(USA Today): "Obama ad blasts Romney over teachers"

(Associated Press): "Obama promotes positive signs in housing market"

(Politico): "Obama's 'Romnesia' remedy'"

(The Hill): "Republicans hit Obama on all sides on Benghazi response"

Other News

(The Telegraph): "Bomb leaves Beirut residents in shock"

(Washington Post): "CIA seeks to expand drone fleet"

(Businessweek): "Dispute with China hits Japan's economy hard"

(Fox News): "Meteor shower created by Halley's comet peaks tonight"

(USA Today): "Tigers built for more just 2012 run"


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Friday, October 19, 2012

Behind the Ad: Obama's "Made in Ohio"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(Another installment in our extensive " Behind the Ad" series.)

Who : Obama for America (OFA).

Where : Ohio -- television.

What's going on: I'll let the Obama campaign explain:

The people of Ohio know the clear choice they face in this election. OFA's new television advertisement, "Made in Ohio," features Ohioans who know just how important President Obama's rescue of the auto industry was for them, their families, and their communities. They know too how it felt to hear Mitt Romney promise to let the whole industry collapse. That is why Ohioans understand that this election is about two fundamentally different visions of an economy: between moving America forward by building the economy from the middle class out, or taking us backward with a top-down approach.

Yes, the economy continues to struggle, but President Obama has done a remarkable job, pulling the economy back from the brink of catastrophe, and putting in on the road to full recovery, by investing in America's future through such decisive actions as saving the auto industry, helping homeowners in dire straits, and injecting much-needed stimulus to spur demand and productivity. The job isn't done, but the president's policies are working, and working well. Just look at the unemployment rate, which went down in 41 states last month. Jobs are up, exports are up, and the future looks brighter because of President Obama's leadership.

In contrast, Mitt Romney is absolutely the wrong choice -- for Ohio, and for America. He'd take the country back to the policies that caused the crisis in the first place, and he'd make it even worse with plutocratic policies that benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else, particularly the middle class.

That's the choice in this election, and it couldn't be more clear.

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Early voting victory in Ohio

By Mustang Bobby

In case you missed this in all the coverage of the debate, the Supreme Court refused to hear Ohio's appeal of a lower court decision to allow early voting to continue in the Buckeye State:

The Supreme Court delivered a victory to President Obama's reelection campaign Tuesday, saying it would not set aside a lower court's ruling that all Ohio voters be allowed to cast ballots in the three days before the Nov. 6 election.

The Obama campaign had sued the state over its decision to end early voting on the Friday before the election for all but members of the military. The campaign said the decision would disproportionately affect poor, elderly and low-income voters, who are most likely to take advantage of early voting.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed. It said that if Ohio is going to open polls for military voters during the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the election, it must allow all voters to participate.

"While there is a compelling reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent nonmilitary voters from casting their ballots as well," the appeals court said.

Without comment, the Supreme Court turned down Ohio's request to revisit the lower court ruling. There were no noted dissents to the decision.

The reason that the Ohio Republicans are against early voting is pretty simple. They know that early voters tend to vote heavily for the Democrats, and, as Greg Sargent notes, the Democrats are very well organized and braced to get out the vote. This, by the way, is the reason why a lot of Republicans in states like Florida are doing everything they can to make voting — not just early voting — more difficult: if you can't sell your candidates on their merits, at least prevent the opposition from voting at all.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Newsweek is dead. Long live the Beast!

By Frank Moraes

The Daily Beast reports that Newsweek is going to stop producing its print version. Tina Brown, one of the top generals in the war to destroy our culture, puts a positive spin on this. They "[a]re transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it."

That is a load off my mind. After all, without Newsweek, where would I turn for Niall Ferguson's latest passel of lies about the president? Or tripe about Muslim Rage by Ferguson's wife, Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Or the latest news about the afterlife and other drug-induced hallucinations? You can imagine my relief!

Newsweek 's problems are not the fault of of Tina Brown. Newsweek has been irrelevant for, I don't know, my entire life. (But I've heard that it totally rocked during the Great Depression!) Brown was just the last desperate gasp of a magazine that has nothing to offer. I can image what the meetings were like. "I know the word 'news' is in the title of our magazine, but maybe we could become more pop culture; I know: let's get that chick from Vanity Fair!"

I'm not clear what this whole thing is about. The truth is that Newsweek already has a digital form. It's called The Daily Beast and it isn't bad (probably owing to the fact that the Newsweek folks didn't create it). So saying that Newsweek is going digital is pretty much the same thing as saying that Newsweek is going away.

To coin a new bumper sticker: if you care that Newsweek is dead, you haven't been paying attention.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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New poll: Warren strong in Massachusetts

Who's a happy candidate? Yes you are.

Just because I've been following this one for quite some time, I wouldn't want to miss the chance to say that Elizabeth Warren now has her biggest lead over Republican incumbent Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. According to a PPP poll, she is up by a margin of 53-44 percent.

We know nothing is over until it's over, but this is good news for Warren.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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A comment on the Gallup poll

By Richard K. Barry 

Hey Nate, I bought your book.
At the risk of sounding cranky, I feel compelled to note Nate Silver's comments yesterday on the Gallup tracking poll that shows Romney up by seven points over Obama, results which he says are "deeply inconsistent with the results that other polling firms are showing in the presidential race, and the Gallup poll has a history of performing very poorly when that is the case":

In 2000, for example, Gallup had George W. Bush 16 points ahead among likely voters in polling it conducted in early August. By Sept. 20, about six weeks later, they had Al Gore up by 10 points instead: a 26-point swing toward Mr. Gore over the course of a month and a half. No other polling firm showed a swing remotely that large.

Then in October 2000, Gallup showed a 14-point swing toward Mr. Bush over the course of a few days, and had him ahead by 13 points on Oct. 27 -- just 10 days before an election that ended in a virtual tie.

I'd rather get it right at this point, and this just seems wrong.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Single shot weapon

By Mustang Bobby

Shorter Mitt Romney on gun control:

Guns don't kill people; single moms kill people.

What he actually said:

Because if there's a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system.

That's because white folks in the 'burbs don't kill other people, or shoot up high schools or movie theaters.

The dog whistles make my ears bleed.

P.S.: As Rick notes, Mr. Romney hasn't always been such a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. But that doesn't keep the NRA from backing him without question.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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The decline and fall of the despicable Dinesh D'Souza

By Michael J.W. Stickings

He really is one of the most reprehensible conservatives in all the land, and that's saying something.

And so it's a real pleasure seeing him caught up in an embarrassing sex scandal:

Dinesh D'Souza spends most of his time purveying hate and nonsense and obsessing about the failings of black people in addition to producing the anti-Obama (anti-colonial Kenyan mentality) movie showing in theaters around the country this season.

But as we noted a few days ago, he seems to have just gotten engaged.

While still married to his current wife.

While also being President of The King's College, a small evangelical college here in New York City.

Well, after "a marathon meeting to decide his fate", the College's board of trustees has decided that it's time for Dinesh to hit the road. And he's now tendered his resignation.

This after his lame excuse that he didn't know that getting engaged while still being married was frowned upon by Christians (like the ones at his own college, where he made an astonishing $1 million annual salary, suggesting that the college's board is as stupid as he is):

The thing I will admit: I did not have any idea that it is seen as wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced even though separated... That was a true error of judgment, but it was truly a case where I didn't know better.

Umm... really? Then he really is an even bigger moron that we thought. (But I don't buy it one bit. He surely knew what he was doing, and it was all about getting some much younger ass, specifically the ass of a big-time D'Souza admirer.)

And did he also not know that his much younger mistress, Denise Odie Joseph, was also married? Oh, how amusing.

(What wonderful values this Obama-hating evangelical theocrat has! Such a glorious hypocrite!)

Couldn't be happening to a more deserving guy. Enjoy the Schadenfreude.

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Bruce Springsteen campaigning for President Obama in Ohio

By Richard K. Barry

Never need an excuse to post some music by Bruce, but don't mind having one either.

Here's "The Boss" on the campaign trail in Ohio yesterday. Apparently some guy named Clinton was with him. Would have been fun if it was George Clinton, but Bill's okay. 

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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A.M. Headlines

U.S. Politics

(New York Times): "Campaigns see Latino voters as deciders in 3 key states"

(Wall Street Journal): "Poll: Obama leads in Wisconsin, Iowa"

(Washington Post): "Romney doesn't have a women problem - at least not yet"

(Associated Press): "After a few laughs, Romney, Obama back to the fray"

(Politico): "Playing to donors, GOP groups spill secrets"

Other News:

(Fox Business): "Europe pushes hard towards ECB bank supervision"

(ABC News): "North Korea threatens attack over leaflets"

(Reuters): "Appeals court rules against Defense of Marriage Act"

(Reuters): "Boy Scout files reveal long history of child sex abuse cases"

(Wall Street Journal): "Tigers' DH Delmon Young wins ALCS MVP award"


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Bill Clinton destroys Romney's massive lie of a tax plan

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Bill Clinton's just so good at this -- in this case, cutting right through Mitt Romney's tax bullshit. Brilliant.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mitt Romney loves business, hates democracy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

And thinks business owners should use intimidation to pressure their employees on how to vote:

Newly-discovered audio from a conference call in June captures Mitt Romney asking business owners to urge their employees to vote for him.

Romney, speaking on a call to the very conservative National Federation of Independent Business, tells a group of business owners that they should "make it very clear" how they feel about the candidates. The audio, discovered by In These Times, also captures Romney telling the business owners to "pass... along to your employees" how their jobs might be effected by who wins in November.

Yes, that's the real Mitt Romney, caught on tape once again, the privileged sense of entitlement in full swing, perhaps his defining quality, a man who thinks he deserves whatever he wants and will say and do anything to get it, expressing his utter contempt for democracy -- and for the American people.

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The character of Mitt Romney

By Mustang Bobby

Charlie Pierce on the real Mitt Romney:

The one thing nobody can ever say now is that they didn't know the exact character of Willard Romney, and exactly how he feels about The Help, including that member of The Help who currently holds the job that Romney believes should have been his by virtue of his god-kissed, golden life. 

"You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking."

Put all those Romneys together and that's what they sound like, even when they're talking to the president of the United States. It's the voice of the bloodless job-killer, the outsourcing Moloch of the industrial midwest, and the guy who poses with his Wall Street cronies with dollar bills in his mouth. People who claim to be interested in "character" should remember that.

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MItt Romney on self-deportation -- again

By Richard K. Barry

Ah, let us relive some of the more entertaining moments from Tuesday's debate.

How about this one, in which Mitt Romney explains his policy of self-deportation? Last time I looked, Mitt was polling in the 20s among Latino voters. I have to wonder if he is trying to bring that down to zero. He might have a shot.

Mitt wants undocumented immigrants to know he will make their lives so miserable they will be begging to be deported.

Or, to quote Steve Benen, as I like to do:

There's no great mystery as to why Mitt Romney is struggling so badly with Latinos: Romney has gone out of his way to deliberately antagonize the entire community -- endorsing "self-deportation," vowing to veto the DREAM Act, palling around with Kris Kobach, using "illegal" as a noun, and describing Arizona's SB 1070 as a "model" for the nation.

Tell us all about it, Mitt:

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Seems that arrogant sense of entitlement runs in the Romney family

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Political Wire:

"Well, you want to jump out of your seat and rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him."

-- Tagg Romney, in an interview on WPTF-AM, when asked how it felt to hear President Obama call his father a liar during last night's debate.

Lay down your polo mallets! There's a black man tormenting daddy! How dare he!


Just try it, Tagg, you fucking idiot.

Because you, like your precious daddy, can't handle it, can you? -- can't handle being challenged, being called out on your relentless bullshitting.

You just expect to be handed whatever you want, whenever you want, and how dare anyone get in the way.

And what's your response? Ah, yes, violence -- or at least violent fantasies of lashing out. Kind of like when your daddy and his little posse assaulted that queer-looking guy in high school.

You know what such fantasies say about you? Well, mainly that you're an insecure, cowardly little prick.

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Mitt Romney's continuing disrespect for women

By Richard K. Barry

I have to imagine that the Obama campaign will be able to pull a bunch of clips from Tuesday's presidential debate to help voters understand what the real Mitt Romney thinks. The debates are about moments and Romney was more than generous providing moments that help us better grasp what he's all about.

In this clip below, at the Obama-Biden website, in which Romney talks about the now-famous lady binders, he fails to talk about pay discrimination for women.

Here's what the campaign had to say about it:

At the second presidential debate, President Obama showed his continued commitment to progress for women. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney didn't offer a single policy or solution when asked about the problem of pay discrimination, just anecdotes. While the President talked about women as breadwinners, Romney talked about them as resumes in "binders".

In a follow-up question, one of Romney's top advisors claimed that the Governor opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. Watch this video and share it with your friends to show why Romney is too extreme for women.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Romney, crushed: The essence of the second presidential debate

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to James Fallows, who knows a thing or two about such things, this is one of the iconic photos from Tuesday's second presidential debate:

The Obama team had clearly thought about one long-term tic in Mitt Romney's debate demeanor: His apparently uncontrollable vulnerability to being flustered if he thinks the "rules" are not being enforced. "I'm speaking... it's my turn." Thus pictures like this, with Romney in a "teacher! teacher!" mode.

It's certainly one of them, capturing part of the essence of the debate. Romney was remarkably rude throughout, objected whenever he didn't get his way, and didn't want anyone telling him what to do.

The thing is, it wasn't so much that Romney thought the rules weren't being enforced, it was that Romney was trampling all over the rules pretty much from the start.

This is what so angered Chris Hayes. Romney's refusal to play by the rules -- interrupting constantly, talking over both President Obama and the moderator, Candy Crowley, not answering the questions, acting the bully and even at times seeming to be trying to put Obama (a black man, lest we forget) in his place ("you'll get your chance," etc., etc.) -- is indicative not just of Romney's self-aggrandizing sense of entitlement but more broadly of how the oligarchy (the word Hayes used) rules America by playing by its own rules.

And this is very much the essence of Mitt Romney. He's a super-rich oligarch, a plutocrat. He doesn't really want to do this whole democracy thing. He just wants everyone to obey him, and to be handed the presidency because he thinks he deserves it, wealth equating to virtue in his plutocratic mind. It's the sense of privilege and entitlement that we've seen over and over again from Romney, and it was on full (and ugly) display Tuesday night.

But of course it wasn't just Romney whining and pouting and bullying. Over the course of the debate he simply unravelled. He lost question after question, and after the Libya debacle in particular, when Obama called what he was saying "offensive" and Crowley called him out on his lie that Obama didn't call the Benghazi attack an act of terror, he was done.

You could see it in his eyes, and it's always in his eyes that you can see what's going on inside. They got more and more glossy, even appearing wet at times, as he knew that the debate was getting away from him, that the president was crushing him. He got more and more desperate, pulling out bullshit lines like "apology tour" to describe the president's approach to foreign policy (note: there was never any such thing, and Obama has never said anything like it), and a photo of Romney with that look in his eyes, like when Crowley exposed him, would be just as "iconic" as the one above, if not more so.

The debate, after all, wasn't just about Romney's rudeness and sense of entitlement, it was about the president turning him into a pile of poo.

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Godspeed, Senator

George McGovern, former Senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee, is dying.

He was the last of the liberal breed, a dyed-in-the-wool group of mostly Democrats who fought hard for the rights of minorities and women (which are actually a majority in this country) and for the poor and hungry. This last was largely motivated by an incident during his tenure in the Air Force, where he saw first hand the devastation war can bring to a people. After World War II, he flew supply missions to northern Italy where he saw people dying of hunger in one of the most fertile regions of the world.

Indeed, President Kennedy saw fit to name McGovern the first Food For Peace director of his administration.

Odd that program no longer gets the kind of attention it used to, eh? Must have been the victim of budget cuts.¹

McGovern ran against Nixon in his re-election bid and was hampered form the outset by two things: his choice for vice president, Senator Tom Eagleton, had been given electroshock therapy for depression, which forced McGovern to replace him with Sargent Shriver, and of course the whole Watergate era, when Nixon decided to not only illegally influence the outcome of the Democratic primaries but to illegally influence the outcome of his re-election.

You youngs can Google it.

Anyway, he came up with some novel and creative proposals in the course of that campaign, like fighting bad economic times by giving everyone in the country a $1,000 tax credit. Oddly, this was badly received by conservatives, who have little problem doling out money now when things are tough.

Indeed, it was Milton Friedman himself who proposed it, and Richard Nixon even included a similar proposal in his Family Assistance Program (yes, that's FAP).

McGovern, in large part, solidified my liberal viewpoint, which was largely formed by the Kennedys. He made it cool to care about people and cool to think that the government could do more, much more, to help those trampled underfoot in a horrific economic machine.

I will miss your voice, Senator. 

¹ The program does still exist and was re-authorized under the 1996 Farm Bill. 

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Television ratings for Tuesday's debate

Here's a good news / bad news story. It would appear that more people watched Tuesday night's presidential debate than the first debate two weeks ago. Unfortunately, a lot of people watched on Fox News.

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

Nielsen figures have FNC's telecast of the town hall debate matching its highest ratings ever (Sarah Palin and Joe Biden's 2008 vice presidential debate) with 11.1 million viewers. On par with that record, FNC also scored a demo win with 3.46 million adults 25-54.

Though its returns are shy of broadcast competition in NBC and ABC, it also topped CBS.
CNN and MSNBC once again switched ranking for the debate. After CNN took the first debate in both viewers and the demo, and MSNBC reclaimed its runner-up status with last week's veep showdown, CNN was once again in second place with 5.77 million viewers and 2.58 million in the demo. MSNBC had 4.88 million total viewers and 1.9 million in adults 25-54.

The good news is that a lot of people watched President Obama kick Romney's ass. The bad news is that if they were watching Fox News the commentary was telling them to ignore what their eyes saw and their ears heard.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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A.M. Headlines

U.S. Politics

(New York Times): "Rival campaigns intently pursue votes of women"

(USA Today): "Obama-Romney word of the day: Binders"

( "Auto bailouts on firing line at presidential debate"

(The Hill): "Team Romney won't rein in GOP nominee during third debate"

(Politico): "GOP's problems exposed in struggle for the Senate"

Other News

(Reuters): "FBI arrests man for attempting to bomb New York Federal Reserve"

(euronews): "Greeks say no to EU austerity with general strike"

(New York Times): "Iran and Turkey join Syria peace envoy in call for truce"

(Washington Post): "Carpenter does necessary damage"

(USA Today): "Family: Ex-Sen. McGovern 'no longer responsive'"


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Romney's relentless deluge of dishonesty

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It was more of the same on Tuesday:

During the first presidential debate in Denver, Colorado Romney managed to tell 27 myths in his 38 minutes of speaking time. But at his second encounter with Obama in New York, the GOP presidential candidate — who has run a post-truth campaign from day one — outdid himself and crammed 31 myths in 41 minutes.

ThinkProgress helpfully debunks them all.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Laugh about it, shout about it -- Round 2

By Mustang Bobby

I can tell right off that President Obama won last night's debate: right-wingers are already saying Candy Crowley of CNN did a terrible job. If you have to blame the moderator, you lost.

As I noted last night, that strong, passionate, and empathetic performance by Barack Obama was what I voted for the last time. He had a command of the facts, he didn't get long-winded, and when he heard a lie coming from Mitt Romney, he called him out on it; which meant he did a lot of calling out.

It wasn't a complete rout. Mitt Romney turned in pretty much the same performance that he did in the first debate where he won by being forceful and animated. But the longer the debate went on and the more he had to deal with an opponent that wasn't going to back down, the more flustered he got and the more his answers became canned and awkward. That led to the moment that will go down in the highlight reel of presidential debates along with "There you go again" and "There is no Soviet domination of Poland": Romney's double-take when he got fact-checked live about when President Obama used the words "act of terror" to describe the Benghazi attack. This has been a right-wing meme since nearly the day the attack occurred, and now it's been debunked on live TV. You could almost hear Mr. Romney re-booting his hard drive.

There were a lot of other moments that stand out: Mr. Romney's corner-office answer about the inequality of women in the workplace (telling America how hard it was to fill cabinet posts in the Massachusetts state house is something everyone worries about, I'm sure); Mr. Obama's deft turn of the question about gun control to supporting education was a pivot that actually worked, and the mystifying shift of Mr. Romney regarding contraception: does he really believe that no one should be denied contraception? Did he just diss the entire right-wing every-sperm-is-sacred crowd? And it was priceless hearing Mr. Romney tell us that it was really his goal in life to put up oil derricks next to Old Faithful and go back to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico while the BP "we're really sorry" ads are still running. Mr. Romney's clumsy attempt to justify his stand on immigration got more and more threadbare as he went on, and someone really needs to explain to him that the term "illegals" is offensive and demeaning. It's one step above "wetback" to a lot of people. And then there's the moment when Mitt Romney handed Barack Obama the 47% slow pitch over the plate and then watched it sail out of the park. Priceless.

There were a lot of unanswered questions, I'm sure: it was only 90 minutes, and the format was pretty much trashed by the end of the first question. As Chris Hayes noted, there was no discussion of climate change in all the talk about energy, and there was no discussion about marriage equality. Both issues will be important in the next four years — marriage is on the ballot in several states this election, and climate change is real.

A lot of pundits are holding back on saying whether or not this debate will change the election and give Mr. Obama some breathing room.  =But seeing as how the first debate made a big difference for Mr. Romney's poll numbers, I'd be very surprised if Mr. Obama doesn't get a pretty decent bounce out of last night.

To sum up, Mr. Obama not only did what he had to do last night, he actually looked like he was enjoying himself. Mitt Romney started to edge into the desperate salesman routine, and that hands it over to Mr. Obama.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Bound to happen

By Mustang Bobby 

I don't have one of those Twitter things, but I hear that "binders full of women" is going viral.

And it turns out that Mr. Romney's claim that he wanted to hire women for his cabinet was — wait for it — not true.

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Love live the fighter! -- part 2

By Carl 

(For part 1, see here.)

5) Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?

Here's where I think Obama could have unleashed his snarky side: "President Who? Oh, you mean the guy the Republicans have run away from all year? The man never even mentioned once in the debates or the convention, except when Jeb Bush said 'my brother'? That guy?"

Oddly, here's where Romney might have stolen a question: he was very specific (if a little wrong) on contrasting a Romney administration against a Bush administration. Had he used this line in 2008, I think he might have beaten John McCain.

But Obama zinged him with the "Governor, you're the last person who's going to get tough on China," and raising obliquely the issue of Sensata (which I would have raised directly).

6) Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive. 

Now, this gave Obama a chance to roll out the accomplishments, and there have been many and there are times I wish President Obama was a more boastful and less Christian man, of his first term, and how he may have saved us from the abyss we were staring into.

His mistake here? Not being a bit more specific to the question of why he deserves a second term. What will he accomplish?

7) President — Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society? 

Both candidates were very specific as to what they would do here, and it's pretty much boilerplate. Fix the laws, offer opportunity, and deport those who don't deserve to be here. Bromides.

But Obama had the rhetorical flourishes on this one that Romney lacked, possibly because his RAM was overheating. Particularly moving was talking about children who have grown up here and pledge allegiance to our flag every day in school, thinking they're American. That was masterful oratory.

Romney, on the other hand, wants to privatize deportation. Hmmmm.

Oh, and Obama got in his kitchen in a big way here. Romney was whining like a little baby towards the end of this exchange.

But the best exchange of the night occured as Romney tried to shift the focus back to China: 

MR. ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it — it doesn't take as long.

8) This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply in Mineola yesterday. We were sitting around talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans. Who was it that denied enhanced security and why? 

Here, Romney does score some large points, but because the president was first up on the question, he got to deflect a lot of the rhetoric by taking responsibility for the mess.

However, Romney blew any advantage he could have had here by completely misquoting the president and being corrected by the moderator: 

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I — I certainly do. I certainly do. I — I think it's interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed. 

MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you're saying? 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor. 

MR. ROMNEY: I — I — I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript. 

MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.

So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism — (inaudible) — 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.) 

MS. CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that. 

MR. ROMNEY: This — the administration — the administration — (applause) — indicated that this was a — a reaction to a — to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.

You read that correctly: the only time in the entire debate, the audience applauded because Barack Obama has been vilified on the right for something he didn't do, and Romney showed his ass and got it spanked.

9) President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or plan to do to limit the availability of assault weapons? 

This was a stupid question, full stop. While it's true that the administration could do more, should do more, it's Congress that's forcing this issue to be raised by letting the Brady ban expire. It's an obvious answer for Obama to make but he did include a great line:

But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don't belong on our streets.

Here's where Romney makes a smaller but noticable blunder: he says automatic weapons are already banned, but the fact is those weapons have been used repeatedly in mass killings over the past four years, and they were purchased legally.

He did bring in Fast and Furious, but by now he's so garbled and mangled his overall message that no one caught it.

He also dissed single parents, altho he does try to pave over this disgusting "family values" moment in what can only be described as a patrician attempt to smooth feathers. His recent bump in support has come from "waitress moms." He just lost them.

And then the president zinged him again: "[F]irst of all, I think Governor Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it."

10) The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the United States? 

And Romney, who was given this question, ducked it by hiding behind China's currency manipulations. Nevermind that Bain has taken advantage of those manipulations -- and here, the President could have, should have, made a better linkage to Bain, but he was pressed for time so shorthanded it -- and nevermind that under Romney, there would be even more outsourcing because he'd allow for even more expatriation of earnings. Under the President, China's currency has actually risen as China has gradually untied the yuan from the dollar.

This is good news, but it's also bad news for us. It means China feels secure in its world leadership position now.

11) What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight? 

"If you wewe a twee, what kind of twee would you be?"


Well, I mean, I guess they can't all be hard questions...

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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It's shrinking

By Mustang Bobby

One of the boilerplate lines from the Romney campaign has been that President Obama has "doubled the deficit."

They're right... if by "doubled" they mean the president actually made it smaller:

Late Friday afternoon, the Treasury Department published the official report on the U.S. budget deficit for the most recent fiscal year: $1.089 trillion. While that's obviously still a very large budget shortfall, the deficit is $200 billion smaller than it was last year, and is nearly $300 billion smaller than when President Obama took office.

To add a little historical context to this, over the last four decades, only two presidents have reduced the deficit this much, this quickly: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

This is one of those stories that doesn't get a lot of press — did you hear about it before now? — which makes it easy for Mitt Romney to lie about it and get away with it. But the deficit has historically grown under Republican presidents and shrunk under Democrats.

So when Mitt Romney tells you that "getting our fiscal house in order is more than an economic imperative — it's a moral imperative" and that "Americans deserve a president who will secure a future for our children that doesn't leave them buried in debt," he's telling you to vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats because clearly the Republicans don't know how to do anything about the deficit but make it bigger.

By the way, I'm sure that if the Republicans actually admitted that the deficit had shrunk in the last four years, they'd take credit for it, saying they stopped Obama from his "reckless spending." Yeah, except they haven't passed a budget in two years.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Get the details

By Mustang Bobby

At long last, the Romney-Ryan campaign has released the details of its tax plan.

Click here to see.

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Long live the fighter! -- part 1

By Carl 

(For part 2, see here.)

I give Obama about an 80 or 85 on his debate performance last night. It was a beauty to behold and left Romney sputtering and stammering at points.

I'd rank the president higher, but as always he left a lot of chips on the table when all was said and done.

Let's look at this question by question:

1) Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate? 

Romney, as always, didn't answer the question. He and Obama were given two minutes each to answer each question, and by my count, Romney spent 1:40 of this answer sucking up to the audience and talking about how important an affordable college education was.

In the final 20 seconds (plus a few) he spoke about "creating jobs." Now, Obama's response was on point and answered the question: He spoke of opportunity, building the manufacturing base, education, repurposing all the money we've wasted on wars to rebuild America, and surprisingly, energy. This last might have deflated his very good points, but it also forestalled a Romney attack on gas prices.

Crowley followed up with What about those long term unemployed who need a job right now? 

Romney mentioned his "five-point plan," which I'm led to believe involves curling his fingers and fisting Americans (especially women and particularly single women). And then he was stupid enough to draw attention to his comments about Detroit, and the wheels fell off the wagon:

And one thing that the president said, which I want to make sure that we understand, he said that I said we should take Detroit bankrupt. And that's right. My plan was to have the company go through bankruptcy like 7-Eleven did and Macy's and Continental Airlines and come out stronger.

And I know he keeps saying, you want to take Detroit bankrupt. Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did.

That opened the door for Obama to remind people that Romney wanted to close GM and probably never reopen them. He wanted to let private vulture capitalists like Bain funnel the funds through the bankruptcy, while Obama took the firms through the bankruptcy with government money and got paid back.

And Obama got in a dig at the one percent. Beautifully played.

2) Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it's not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department? 

This is one question I think the president could have done better on: level with people. The president's role in setting gas prices is nearly non-existent, even less than what he can do about jobs. About all a president can do is suspend the federal taxes on gas and release some of the Strategic Reserve. Neither of which is called for right now.

Here's what I would have said: "No one understands what gas prices do to the family budget better than me. Each dollar a gallon goes up is $15 out of your pocket with the typical sedan. That's a lunch, or a movie. The fact is, there is very little a president can do currently to keep prices down. This is a free market issue and tahnk goodness we live in a nation where a President can't dictate the price you pay for a gallon of gas.

And when they're run up by speculation of the kind that firms like Bain Capital and other hedge funds and private equity firms indulge in, it's very frustrating. I would like to have legislation that gives me a little influence over the level of that speculation. (I haven't really thought what that would mean. Yet.)
Gas prices are a function of the demand of the entire world, not just the U.S. -- Obama made a great point about the artificially low prices in 2008 -- and we're going to have to live with increasing prices at the pump unless we do two things: we need to ensure that we have sufficient domestic production (here's where I'd talk about increasing gas leases in the first four years) and that we begin to develop affordable renewable energy to lower our demand. Lower demand means lower prices.

Here's where Romney really shot himself in the foot by swallowing the right wing talking points about gas and oil leases. Obama had the chance to explain about the non-use of those leases and Romney, sensing his error, tried to talk over him and failed.

Crowley followed up with the new norm question, which I sort of covered above. One note, though: Obama got in a devastating anecdote that will play well in Ohio about Romney standing in front of a coal plant in Massachussetts as governor and saying, "This plant kills."

Romney was right, but own it, dude. Also, Barack Obama is President of the United States. Don't tell him "I'm speaking, you'll get your turn." And Candy Crowley all but tells Romney to shut up.

3) Governor Romney, you have stated that if you're elected president, you would plan to reduce the tax rates for all the tax brackets and that you would work with the Congress to eliminate some deductions in order to make up for the loss in revenue...concerning (t)hese various deductions, the mortgage deductions, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit and also the education credits, which are important to me, because I have children in college. What would be your position on those things, which are important to the middle class? 

Here, Romney starts talking about a "bucket of deductions". In essence (and what he should have said), he means he'll expand the standard deduction and eliminate most itemized deductions, while lowering tax rates 20%. He claims this will lower tax burdens, but I'm not convinced, particularly in high tax states like, say, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, or Virginia. My local taxes exceed $11,000. My property and school taxes would bump that over $15,000 easily. Even with a 20% reduction in taxes, I'd still pay more.

He says he'd cut taxes on bank interest and dividends for those under $200K a year. I can get behind that much, at least. But it doesn't address inequity in taxes from rich to poor.

Luckily, Obama noticed this as well:

Now, Governor Romney has a different philosophy. He was on 60 Minutes just two weeks ago and he was asked: Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year? And he said, "Yes, I think that's fair." Not only that, he said, "I think that's what grows the economy."

Well, I fundamentally disagree with that. I think what grows the economy is when you get that tax credit that we put in place for your kids going to college. I think that grows the economy. I think what grows the economy is when we make sure small businesses are getting a tax credit for hiring veterans who fought for our country. That grows our economy.

Romney's rebuttal?

You heard what I said about my tax plan. The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I'm not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.

That's fairness? That depends.

Crowley's follow up -- If somehow when you get in there, there isn’t enough tax revenue coming in, if somehow the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing to look again at a 20 percent -- was cut off by Governor Romney, who then made an unforced blunder:

Well, of course they add up. I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years and balanced the budget. I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget. I ran the — the state of Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and balanced the budget all four years. 

The federal government bailed him out. So did the state of Utah and the city of Salt Lake. You didn't build that, Governor. And that even neglects the condescension Romney showed towards Crowley. He was sinking fast and knew it.

4) In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn? 

Do I need to say it? "Women in binders." End of discussion. Romney could have pulled a draw on this question if he hadn't mangled that sentiment so badly and in so doing, exposed his inhumanity. He could have said "countless resumes" or "an overwhelming number of candidates," but chose a businesslike metaphor, indicating this wasn't a moral choice for him to hire more women, but a calculated political one designed to curry favor.

Obama did all he had to here: Lilly Ledbetter.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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