Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Endorsement

Chait says Obama is the best President of his lifetime.

Pierce says... drones. But I'll vote for him anyway.

And Chait comes back with: Have you seen this Romney dude?

Naturally, this circles us back to the irrepressible question of what Romney himself actually believes. The vast industry devoted to exploring the unknowable question of Romney’s true beliefs has largely ignored a simple and obvious possibility: That Romney has undergone the same political and/or psychological transformation that so many members of his class have since 2009. If there is one hard fact that American journalism has established since 2009, it is that many of America’s rich have gone flat-out bonkers under President Obama. Gabriel Sherman first documented this phenomenon in his fantastic 2009 profile in this magazine, “The Wail of the 1%,” which described how the financial elite had come to see themselves as persecuted, largely faultless targets of Obama and their greedy countrymen. Alec MacGillis andChrystia Freeland have painted a similar picture.
The ranks of the panicked, angry rich include Democrats as well as Republicans and elites from various fields, but the most vociferous strains have occurred among the financial industry and among Republicans. All this is to say, had he retired from public life after 2008, super-wealthy Republican financier Mitt Romney is exactly the kind of person you’d expect to have lost his mind, the perfect socioeconomic profile of a man raging at Obama and his mob. Indeed, it would be strange if, at the very time his entire life had come to focus on the goal of unseating Obama, and he was ensconced among Obama’s most affluent and most implacable enemies, Romney was somehow immune to the psychological maladies sweeping through his class.

"This Election Is About Choices"

If Bain had bought Apple.

Romney and Ryan are on the record as wanting to get rid of FEMA.  Now, I have no doubt that Romney in particular will lie his f-ing ass off about his previous position on this, because Romney will lie his f-ing ass off about what he had for lunch yesterday.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, all Mitt ever does is lie, lie, lie.

A few corners of the liberal internet have been pushing the angle that Chris Christie has been the hero of the storm because he's been his usual brusque (obnoxious) self to the self-evidently stupid and also went on Fox News and caused heads to explode by saying Obama is doing a great job.

Later today, Christie will tour the devastation with Obama.

In other words, Christie is behaving as a governor should: solving problems.  This makes him sui generis in the modern GOP and sets him up for 2016.  Romney, as governor, hardly seemed interested in the job according to those who worked with him.  At least once those binders full of women were emptied.

Governors have traditionally made good presidents because they have experience dealing with real problems.  It is the nature of being in the executive branch.

Paul Ryan - when he has called repeatedly for ending FEMA voted to slash its funding - is behaving just like a House member usually does: in a hyper-partisan and ideological fashion.  Efforts to defund NOAA and FEMA are part and parcel of GOP anti-government orthodoxy.  This is why we don't elect people from the House to the Presidency.

But Romney, convictionless shape-shifter that he is, has no trouble adopting the batshit insane positions of the fringes of his party, because as we have seen throughout October, he will just deny he ever said it once it comes time to win Virginia's electoral votes.

I once had respect for John McCain, but his angry old man yelling at clouds routine, his selection of Caribou Barbie as his running mate and his obvious ignorance of economic matters soured me on him.

I just loath Romney.  He's Eddie Haskell without the principles or consistency.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mitt Romney Is A Lying Sack Of Shit

At what point does Romney's really - and I mean REALLY - remarkable mendacity cost him?

His open disdain for anything factual has become legendary.

I would like to believe that this will be a factor in the coming election, but it sure doesn't look like it.

Oh, Sandy

Should we politicize Sandy faster than Greased Lightning?


Chait says yes, and I agree with him.

The GOP wants to gut FEMA.  That's on the record.  That's Ryan's legislative record and Romney's record of public statements.

As Chait says:
The GOP is the party arguing for splurging on a long vacation at the beach rather than repairing the roof. Naturally, they want to have this argument only when it’s sunny and never when it’s raining. There’s no reason to accommodate them.

Sandy Aftermath

Artists depiction of Sandy's landfall.

Looking out the window: everything seems fine.  Power is out at home, went out about 11:30pm.  Had to weigh option as to whether or not to eat the dog.  Decided that was probably an overreaction.

Hopefully they get the power on, so we don't have to check in to the Giff Inn.

This is cool.

Interestingly, the Northeast has been slumping a little economically.  In the short term, rebuilding could perk things up.  Disaster Keynesianism.

Monday, October 29, 2012


We still have power and - if you're reading this - internet connectivity.  My guess is that last year's Halloween snowpocalypse has prepared us well.  Meanwhile New Jersey residents are urged to go to high ground, such as the summit of Chris Christie's ego.

The Head cancelled school tomorrow, which is the second year in a row we have had the Head's holiday dictated by the weather.  Once he made a joke about the chaplain praying for good weather for graduation and that he would rather have the weatherman on his side.  It rained that day.  I'm just saying.

As the storm gathered in strength from a rainy windy day to a rainy blustery day to man, that's some serious wind, I could actually feel the falling air pressure in my ears and sinuses.  My glorious wife of course grabbed a vacuum while we still had power.  FEMA is invited to kiss her ass.

Meanwhile, as Sandy squats down upon us like a flatulent sumo wrestler, we await the coming loss of power and the return to the Middle Ages: war, pestilence, famine and plague.

Also, too, no Monday Night Football.

UPDATE: You think Mother Nature is letting us know she's pissed that no one has been talking about global warming?

Sandy Update

I thought we were intermittently losing power, but it turns out I was just blinking.

Frankenstorm Update

11:00AM: It has gone from "breezy" to "windy".

The sky has turned from "dark" to "light".  The Weather Channel says this is dependent on where the "sun" is in the "sky".

Little of the watery substances that usually fall from the sky has dropped.

I think Sandy is teasing us, that minx.

Presumably, everything is about to go to Hell, trees will be uprooted and pre-teens will be lifted away to a land somewhere over the rainbow.  But it hasn't happened yet.

I was on Nantucket when Irene "hit".  This is feeling similar.

Glad on don't live in New Jersey anymore.

But that was true before Sandy came to town.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Too Awesome For Words

It's like synergy...

Live Blogging Sandy/Frankenstorm

It is dark.  And breezy.

Presumably the worst is yet to come.

I Am Home

Returned home to find the hatches battened and the smell of fear in the air.  Fear and popcorn.

We all await the arrival of the Frankenstorm with that usual combination of incredulity and dread that seems to be human nature.

The Things will be out of school at least Monday about Thing One is already had school cancelled on Tuesday.  We, of course, will not cancel, because that simply isn't done at the Academy, young man.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Well, I've just spent a day learning about Iran.

Or rather, filling in some interesting gaps about Iran.

And I am too fried to write about it.

That and my roommate snores like a chainsaw and awakes at 5:30 AM.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Yup. Doomed.

UPDATE: Right now it looks like it will hit Philly and Wilmington hardest.  I'm sure the Things are pretty pissed right now.  They were counting on a little weather related vacation.

Radio Silence

Later today, I'm headed to Pittsburgh for a conference on Iran, where I will learn that there is no great threat to America than Ahmadinejad's beard.  Then I will return into the teeth of Frankenstorm.

So to recap: terrorism, then climate change.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama Smash

Obama gave an interview to Rolling Stone.

He said this.  God bless him:

Have you ever read Ayn Rand?
What do you think Paul Ryan's obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?
Well, you'd have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a "you're on your own" society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

Heh Heh

Sandy Is Coming

A year after the Halloween blizzard, we are now looking at another weather catastrophe.

But thank God none of the debate moderators thought it was important enough to ask about during the debates because DEFICIT!


Screw You Cablevision

Right now, I can't get Fox because Cablevision and Tribune are having a pissing match about rates. That means no NFL and no World Series.

This is what happens when customers are caught between powerful corporations who forgot long ago the maxim of "the customer is always right".

This is why the NHL season is in jeopardy, why we had replacement refs.

But just remember that these are just the visible examples.  Everyday, people are getting squeezed by the powerful.

Be nice if someone stood up for them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mighty Fine Writing

Why a "pro-life" guy believes in choice.  TNC at his eloquent best.

Actually, read this first:

But What Is Obama's PLAN??!!!11

A horse with a bayonet!

Well, since you asked...

He wants to tackle immigration reform, the deficit, consolidating Dodd-Frank and ACA, corporate tax reform and infrastructure.

Hey, that's a five point plan!

I guess we can also add: free gay abortions for socialists.

Donald Trump: Still An Asshole

Seems legit.

The Trumpocalypse has passed.  Turns out it was just some warmed over Birtherism and some veiled nonsense about Obama's grades - which is really just another flavor of Birtherism.

So now we can wait a few days for the Allredageddon, whereby Gloria Allred drops the stunning bombshell that Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

Meanwhile IDB/TIPP has Obama up 3 and Gallup is reverting to the pack and has Romney up 3.  Which means: OHIO!

UPDATE: Apparently Allredageddon is that Romney once testified in a child custody case.  And now back to whether certain types of rape are OK with God.

Among The Firebaggers

How the hell does TBogg stay sane over at FDL?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Indiana Senate

Joe Donnelly has been trailing - but within striking distance - of Richard Mourdock.  Mourdock just said that "rape is something that God intended".  Mourdock Akined himself.

On a more serious note, what the hell is wrong with these people?  I mean that seriously.  Rape is something that God intended?

Whose God?

Closing Arguments

Booman lays out a case for what Obama's closing argument seems to be shaping up as.

I think it's true.  You will hate Mitt Romney.

No Better Than Ezra

Absolutely spot on.


Oh fer chrissake...

Look, you idiots, Ahmadinejad is NOT the power locus in Iran, OK?  He's term limited and the Supreme Leader is no longer enamored with him.  The same powers that rigged his election in 2009 will insure that he will abide by his term limits.  He is out NEXT SPRING.  That's it!  You want to get rid of Ahmadinejad, wait a few months.

Ahmadinejad is the head of government, not the head of state.  When it comes to military and foreign policy, the Supreme Leader sets policy.  The head of government simply helps carry it out.

To focus on Ahmadinejad is to empower that lunatic in the short run and miss the boat entirely when it comes to who we have to be talking to when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

This is why most discussions of foreign policy are so stupid.

What The Hell Happened?

So, we had a fairly snoozerrific Presidential race in September, with Obama sporting roughly a 5 point lead.  Then we had Denver.  We'll always have Denver.

And for predictable reasons the race tightened.  And it seemed to settle roughly into where it was before Obama's noticeable and sustained convention bounce.  Romney was able to get his convention bounce out of the first debate.

But since then, I think we've seen two clear debate wins for Obama (three if you include Biden's win).  What's interesting is that John Kerry cleaned Bush's clock in the 2004 debates, and that didn't help him.  And Obama does not seem to have earned the same sort of bounce that Romney got from his good first debate.

Where does that leave us?  Right back where Nate Silver said we would be all along: a close national race with a structural advantage for Obama in the Electoral College.

In most cases, you could argue that the tightening of the race would be a good thing for Democrats, because it will motivate the Democratic GOTV efforts.  Before Denver there was already post-election style sniping from Obama's left on drones and some other issues.  That's gone for at least two weeks.  But liberals are so whiny and cringy and defeatist, you have to wonder if this will dispirit them.

You want to know what I think it looks like right now?  Same as it was yesterday.  We will see how Romney's milquetoast performance plays among ex-military types in Virginia and Florida, though.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Obama 2-Romney 1

If the Obama we saw in the last two debates showed up for the first one, this election would be over.  But you know, it wasn't.

There was only one Commander in Chief up there.

But I honestly think that Romney was sick.  He was sweaty, weak of voice and somewhat stumbling.  Some of that was his manifest lack of understanding of foreign policy (a problem for most governors).  But it seemed to be a physical condition.

Romney also looked weak by agreeing with Obama a lot.  He got away with some of that "Moderate Mitt" stuff before when he was dying in the polls.  But the neo-cons are going to freak out in a serious way over this.

Obama's answers were sharp and crisp; Romney's weren't.

I think this is a win for Obama.  I don't think it's close.  But I'm sure the pundits will tell us different.

Chris Matthews is saying - correctly - that there was too much focus on the Middle East.


We can see what the snap polls say, but this looks like an Obama win.  Al Sharpton talked about how Romney was clinching like a boxer to avoid the knockout, lending credence to my "Sick Romney" idea.


MSNBC just showed a map of Iran and Syria, then Ed Schultz just called Romney a punk.  As Schultz noted, Romney spent the night saying "Obama is doing the right thing."


Chris Hayes just noted that there was almost no daylight between them.  Which is true, but that's because Romney flipped his entire binder full of issues.  Romnesia strikes again.


Steve Schmidt originally said that Romney did fine.  It will be fun to watch him walk that back all night long.  He's an interesting guy.  But Rachel Maddow is on her soap box talking about how Romney is basically a liar and that should be disqualifying for the presidency.  Which is really a good point, when you think about it.

Give it up, Steve, John Weaver calls it for Obama.


CBS News snap poll:  Obama 53%, Romney 23%, tie  NLCS 24%

Anyone who scored this a tie is the classic undecided voter.  Also, Mitt couldn't even get that magical 27% number.


As per usual, I like Booman's take, including - sadly - his conclusion:


According to what I'm seeing on Twitter, Lindsay Lohan is now Romney's top surrogate on social media #yourenothelping


I am glad to know that mitt agrees with Obama so much. No, really. Why vote?

Excellent point, Glenn.  Take Tuesday off.


Interesting context:

A Blowout?

According to the CBS News instapoll Romney won debate one 46 to 22.
According to the same poll, President Obama won this one 53 to 23.
Seeing a lot of reporters and pundits trying to catch up with the public reaction.




This pretty much tells you all you need to know about the American political press.

The Race Is Tied, Except It's Not

The national polling is all over the place, but the smart guys in green eye shades say that Obama is probably up a point or two.  Basically where he was before the conventions.

He's also pretty clearly got a lead in Ohio that's been stable.  Some polling averages have Pennsylvania competitive, but I seem to recall McCain wasting a ton of resources in PA and it wasn't really close.  Wisconsin and Nevada also seem to have small but consistent Obama leads.

In other words, if you looked at any one poll, the race is within the margin of error.  But when you look at the average of multiple polls, it's hard to escape the idea that Obama is headed for a narrow re-election.

Right now he's winning by about 2 points nationally.  He's winning PA, OH, WI, IA and NV.  Even if he loses NH, VA, FL and CO, he still wins the Presidency with 277 electoral votes.  Personally, I think he will win NH and CO, but VA and FL are toss-ups.

Anyway, tonight will be Mitt's last chance to pin America's foreign policy failings on the words that Obama used and the time that he used them.  My guess is that it will be mind-bogglingly stupid.

Also there will be no questions on the global threat of climate change, because there are Muslims to kill, damnit.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Romney Is An Exceptional Liar

Even by the standards of politicians..

What's fascinating about Romney's compulsive lying is that there is an honest, conservative case against Obama, but Romney would rather invent one from whole cloth.

The idea that Romney lies so easily is being chalked up to the closed feedback loop that is the universe of Fox News.  I think that is plausible.

But there is also the fact that Romney has been a Big Shot for years.  And people don't usually confront Big Shots with uncomfortable facts.  Big Shots, too, get locked into a hermetically sealed bubble of Yes Men and Sycophants.  That's part of the reason Presidents historically do so poorly in their first debates when running for re-election.

But specific to Romney is the idea of his political chameleon act.  He has taken so many positions over the years that it probably is hard for him to keep up with his own positions, much less Obama's.

Whatever the combination of factors that make Romney an inveterate liar, one would hope that this would preclude his becoming President.  But, sadly, he has a real shot.



McGovern has become a cautionary tale about being liberal in national politics.  But McGovern was also out of touch with an electorate that was turning hard right on social issues, an electorate that was sick and tired of sex, drugs and those obstreperous Negros.

I think, ironically, we live in a country that is much more socially liberal than McGovern's but much more economically conservative.  Unions turned away from McGovern and helped empower the rise of the Goldwater-Reagan GOP, which led to the steady weakening of unions and the decline of the blue collar middle class.

Romney doesn't come off well when things turn to social issues.  But he's given unearned credibility on economic issues, because... Bain?  Tax cuts?  I don't get it.

The Left is winning the argument on LGBT rights and contraception, even if it's ceded the field on guns.

If Obama wins a second term and the economy continues to recover, Democrats need to change not just the conversation about the middle class, but the outcomes.

That way lies a liberal majority that McGovern could only dream of.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thank You

I just watched Les Miserables as performed by students at our school.  Les Miz is... hard.  Jean Valjean is basically unsingable.  Almost every major role has a song that stretches their range to the very limit.

And all I can say is: Damn.  It was the students who cajoled the drama director to do the play; they took it upon themselves to do the best and most difficult musicals out there.

And they pulled it off.

I had goosebumps.

Ezra Klein On The Politics Of Global Warming

Or, as part of a theme: Why David Brooks is such a craptastic hack.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Didn't See THAT Coming

Funnier Than The Al Smith Dinner

The Great Unspoken

One of the more frustrating aspects of the Presidential debates is how they coalesce around the same damned issues.  Kudos to the person asking a gun violence question, but including it was one of Crowley's worst moments.  There is no more debate about guns in America.  The NRA won.  Time to move on.

Otherwise: taxes and deficits.  Taxes and deficits.  Not that they aren't important and not that Romney's continued evasions on the budgetary issues isn't important, but there are other issues.

Like climate change.

I don't subscribe to the idea that Obama "hasn't done a thing" on climate change.  Improved CAFE standards and increasing funding for renewable energy is a real change and a real accomplishment.  But almost all of Obama's environmental programs have been cloaked in the argument of "green jobs".

Part of the problem is that "this election is about the economy" so we just will skip over abortion, birth control, climate change, deportations and electoral suppression (just to use the first five letters of the alphabet).  Nope, it's about the economy, and since we all know that "real Murikans" only care about the economy that we can't have an honest conversation about climate change.

Here's where an honest conversation would go: We'd have to talk about nuclear power, post-Fukuyama.  We'd have to talk about even greater fuel efficiency.  We'd have to talk about conservation.  We'd have to talk about cap-and-trade.  We'd have to have a real conversation about China beyond bellicose sword rattling.

I guess one can hope that - because this is a global issue - we will have some discussion about climate change as we live through the warmest year on record.

But because it is a debate, that discussion will likely be stupid.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Well This Is A BFD

And now Superman can marry that cute Jimmy Olson and it has to be recognized by the federal government.

Also, too.  It should be pointed out that "No freaking shit DOMA is unconstitutional.  It was ALWAYS unconstitutional.

Worth A Read

Reading TNC always broaden my perspective.

This Is Cool

Mitt Romney, Binder Of Women

The "binders of women" thing is actually having some legs.  Funny how life works out.  While I thought the Libya gaffe was devastating, because it reinforced the idea that Romney is a slippery, liar, an aluminum siding salesman, in the end, it might be the "binders of women" line that kills him.

And this is a good exegesis of why.

Most of the polling that showed a narrowing race showed that because Romney's numbers among women improved dramatically after the first debate.  Personally, I was surprised at this, because I thought Romney acted like a dick in the first debate, too.

But I missed the point.  Romney was acting like a dick to other men - to Lehrer and Obama - and that didn't necessarily resonate with female voters.  Having been reasonably sentient over their lives, women have noted that men are dicks to each other frequently.  In fact, men are remarkably dickish even to their friends.

But Romney was a dick to Candy Crowley.  (In fact, I wish Obama has just once apologized to Crowley when he went over time, or thanked her for her forbearance.  That would have been killer.)  Romney also, yes, had his "binders of women" moment, which aside from being a rhetorical nightmare, also suggested that Romney - who had NO women working with him in upper positions at Bain - was astonished that - BY GOLLY! - there were a bunch of qualified women out there!

Who knew?!

There was his bizarre non sequitar that single moms lead to gun violence.  I guess that line might have worked better in the '90s, but Jared Lochner and James Holmes both came from stable two parents homes.  They were just, you know, mentally ill and allowed to buy weapons.

As the New Republic article notes, Romney is that obnoxious boss who talks over his female workers and bullies them into shutting up.

But I've been wrong before and we'll know by the weekend if the race has been re-shaped by this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not Sure I Agree

From Jon Chait:

President Obama is not a great debater, but in the second presidential debate, he gave his best performance. Mitt Romney came off well, but not nearly as well as he had during the first debate. Obama enjoyed friendly questions from an audience that obviously leaned left. But more importantly, Obama simply did not allow Romney to occupy the center as he had before.
This time around, Obama did not chew up time defending his record or delve into policy minutia. He used every question to pivot to a sharp attack on Romney. The combination of the ideologically hostile questions and Obama’s relentless attacks put Romney on the defensive, and kept him there.

Here's where I disagree.  I don't think the questions were "ideologically hostile" to Romney.  I think they represent real issues that people care about, as opposed to Beltway obsessions about the deficit. Women DO care about equal pay for equal work.  That's not an ideologically hostile question so much as a question that Romney's ideology is hostile to these people.


From Charlie Pierce:

But not even I expected Romney to let his entitled, Lord-of-the-Manor freak flag fly as proudly as he did on Tuesday night. He got in the president's face. He got in Crowley's face. That moment when he was hectoring the president about the president's pension made him look like someone to whom the valet has brought the wrong Mercedes. 
"You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking."
Wow. To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment's sleep. But those people are merely the anonymous Help. The guy he was speaking to on Tuesday night is a man of considerable international influence. Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I've certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He's lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose.

And Romney bitched endlessly — endlessly — about the rules, and why this uppity fellow on the other stool was allowed to speak before he was spoken to, and why he didn't get to speak at length on whatever he wanted to speak on because, after all, he is the CEO of the stage. Jesus Christ, I'd hate to play golf with the man. He's the guy who counts to make sure you don't have too many wedges in your bag. He knows every cheap subsection of every cheap ground rule, and he'll call you on every one of them. You couldn't get a free drop out of him with thumbscrews, and forget about conceding any putt outside two inches. And then, on the 18th hole, with all the money on the line, he kicks his ball out of the rough and denies up and down to the rules committee that he did it. Then he goes into the clubhouse bar and nobody sits with him.


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.

Read more:

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Is This A Game Change? Again?

Obama won that one.  I thought he would, because this is a good format for him.

Will it make a difference?  I think - in some ways like the first debate - that this will invigorate the winner's base.  There has been some evidence that the first debate just depressed the Democrats, and that they literally stopped answering the phone.  But that's somewhat guessing at the Romney bump.  It clearly energized the GOP.

It looks like the Benghazi moment is the defining moment, and Romney got crushed.  It's a Gerald Ford on Poland type moment.  It was a gaffe.  A bad one.

That is going to be the moment.  And it does raise expectations on foreign policy next week, but the Benghazi moment just made Romney look foolish. He had already looked like a dick, especially to Crowley.  With that he just looked foolish.

Fools can't be president.

UPDATE: Obama did a GREAT job appealing to women, I think, especially tying birth control to pocket book issues.  Anyone who's had to deal with the cost of birth control knows this.

UPDATE 2: My wife made me turn to Fox.  Holy crap.

UPDATE 3: Oh, and "binders of women" are trending now.  All over the internet basically.

"We went out looking for women."  Great line, Mitt.

UPDATE 4: MSNBC was as guilty as anyone as setting up the left wing freakout.  They are killing it now.

UPDATE 5: The internet is brutal.  And fast.

UPDATE 6: With an hour's distance, I think the moment for me was when Obama said, "Keep going Governor" when Romney was pushing the terrorism lie.  That was awesome.

Short Answers To Simple Questions

Did liberal hysteria turn a middling debate performance into a political disaster?


Thanks for playing.


Josh Marshall breaks down the internals from the Gallup poll:

East - Obama +4
Midwest - Obama +4
South - Obama -22
West - Obama +6

I have no idea what "the South" means.  Does it include Texas?  And I have a hard time believing that Obama is running that poorly there, given how many African Americans live there.

But that's a compelling argument that Obama's national poll numbers are not predictive.  He wins Ohio and Nevada, he's likely re-elected.

Funny Game

The PPP and Gallup poll both suggest that Obama is in free fall, especially among female voters.  Which is weird, as nothing besides a somnolent debate performance has changed in the race and ever since the first debate, Romney has run afoul of the fact checkers.

Meanwhile, the Obama team is hyping the debate tonight.  Not sure why, unless they are trying to boost viewership.  Why set up this debate as important when the last one went so poorly?


Even funnier, here it an explanation of Romney's tax plan:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Things I Would Never Ever Do

The Felix Baumgartner thing was really compelling.

I mean, in many ways it was another pseudo-event.  It was created by the marketing people at Red Bull to... alright, I confess I'm at a loss as to why they would spend all this money.

But I think it was compelling because we have so sanitized our lives that we are devoid of real adventure anymore.

I've been rewatching some episodes of HBO's Rome and it's striking how casual they are about dead bodies. Not surprising because things die all the time and someone has to get rid of them.  But we hide death away in special, sanitized places.  We don't embrace pain, we run from it.  We anesthetize ourselves in any way possible.

So when some crazy dude steps on to the edge of a great blue nothingness and hurls himself off, with the possibility that any of a million things could do wrong and kill him in a hundred different agonizing ways... that's damn fine TeeVee right there.

Fickle Dames

Apparently, the big fallout from last weeks debate was among women.  The huge gender gap that we saw after the convention is now not so big.

Clearly, Obama will need to shore up his base among female voters.  First of all, he needs to not be a freaking sleepwalker.  He needs to show passion in defense of things that women care about.

Some of the problem has been that the debate questions are a bunch of warmed over Beltway bullshit.  People outside of DC DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE DEFICIT.  To quote Charlie Pierce: "Fk the deficit.  People ain't got no jobs, people ain't got no money."  The large part of the debates that have focused on budgetary issues is only ONE of the many areas that these candidates disagree.  It remains a fetish of Beltway journalists, but ironically, it's not like they seem to understand anything about it.  To wit: the GOP does not care two farts about the deficit.  They never have.

I am hopeful that the town hall format will result in more issues that actually matter to real voters: jobs, health care, the environment, education and, yes, birth control and abortion.  Obama has to do a better job calling out Romney when he lies, yes.  But he also must - most importantly - define and defend his four years, and contrast that with the four years you can expect under Mitt Romney.

But he should realize that women care about community.  They care about the things that he cares about.  If he can be passionate about that, and contrast that with Mitt's "everyone for himself" attitude, then he wins.

It feels at the moment like the race is roughly where it was before the conventions: very close, with Obama maybe enjoying an ever so slight advantage in the Electoral College math.

But if Obama can go out and win over the female voters who watched what they saw in Charlotte and said, "Right on", then he can recapture enough momentum to bring the race home.

A Long Read, But Worth It

This is why I read everything Chait writes.  It may not always be right, but it sure the hell is thought provoking.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Walking Dead Reflections

First of all, there seems to be some subtle evidence that AMC is putting a little more money into the series.  Little things like music and better makeup suggest that they aren't going to be as cheap as last year (something that lead to Frank Darabont being bounced from the series).

As far as the story goes, lots to chew over.  The tension between Rick and Lori is pretty intense.  By skipping a few months, they can use a sort of shorthand to show all sorts of changes.  How the group has become adept in their environment and yet less civilized.  The scene with the dog food and their relief at having jail beds is evidence of that. That and the glee they took in emptying the prison yard full of Walkers.

Carl is turning into quite the little bad ass, which must also be tearing Lori apart.

Apparently Maglites can be turned into silencers.  Handy tip.

Not much of Andrea and Michonne, but hopefully that changes in coming weeks.

Oh, and poor Herschel.  Hope he lives after all that.

Likely Voters

A good read.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Am A Culinary Genius

Invented a soup today off a recipe from Mexico.  It was awesome.

3 quarts chicken broth
1 large garlic clove, bisected at the hemisphere
1 shallot quartered
5-6 sprigs of cilantro
1 bay leaf
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly cut
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and roughly cut
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp Penzie's fajita spice
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
A shot of tequila

Combine the above, bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour.  Strain the solids out and return the broth to the soup pot with a few of the cooked garlic cloves.

It can sit for much longer if you want to prepare it ahead of time.

4 pieces of bacon
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb of shrimp, cleaned

Fry the bacon, remove.  Add the olive oil to the bacon grease and then fry the shrimp in the mixture until they are about half cooked.

1 cup orzo
2 tomatoes

Bring the broth to a boil.  Add the orzo, cook for five minutes.  At the five minute mark add the shrimp and tomatoes.  Cook for five more minutes.

Serve in bowls with freshly cut avocado and a lime for garnish.  Sprinkle with the bacon if you like bacon.  And you either like bacon or your wrong.

Serve with a citrus based salad and toasted crusty bread for a nice meal.

It sounds complicated, but aside from frying the shrimp, it's pretty low stress.  I might not add the bacon next time, because it got a little salty, but it's got a nice little heat from peppers, and a medley of flavors from the herbs and spices.


Their Satire Outpaces Our Reality,29845/?ref=auto

I'd laugh if I weren't crying.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bring Out The Hammer

Again, I think this is the under-reported story of the debate.  Paul Ryan came out and argued for a form of Social Security privatization.

This is the issue - in a climate generally more favorable for conservatives - that effectively ended the Bush Administration's domestic effectiveness.  In about a 6 month span after winning re-election, we had Terri Schaivo, Social Security privatization and Katrina.  Bush never recovered from that.

If you combine Ryan's response on abortion and ANY subsequent focus on social issues in the coming town hall debate with Ryan's Social Security gambit, you are creating 2/3rds of the issues that neutered the Bush Presidency, at least domestically.

This is a HUGE opening.  And spare me the "don't demagogue Social Security, because it must be fixed" nonsense.  Social Security is not a terribly tough fix.

Privatization however is a huge risk and fiscally unsustainable.  You can't divert young people's contributions in a 401K type vehicle and still make all your payments to existing seniors.

This can throw a wedge into the senior vote.  I think Florida will be VERY close, and I think this Social Security opening needs to be hammered home.


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


Read more:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One More Video Of The Debate

Ryan Embraces Third Rail

I missed this:

How does this not end the election?

I mean, I know how.  We will immediately start to see a walk-back from the Romney people.  But the idea that Romney-Ryan endorses Social Security privatization should be a deal breaker.


The last debate was invigorating for Republicans and dispiriting for Democrats.  Again, I think some of that was the MSNBC freakout, but whatever.

Tonight Biden staunched the bleeding.  He gave a vigorous defense of being a Democrat.

Ryan did demonstrate the weakness that Romney will face in the foreign policy debate.  And I think the abortion stuff is VERY important.  And there was a clear answer there from Biden.

The Medicare/budget stuff in many ways just glosses over most people.  But Biden's style is to connect to people in ways that none of the other three candidates are good at.

As I said, this staunches the bleeding on the Democratic side.  Because what Democrats want is someone to defend their positions.  They got that tonight.

And what's more, being partisan MATTERS.  That's what Obama doesn't get, since he naturally reaches for consensus.  But if you want to have a debate about Medicare, just say, "I'm the Democrat, beyotch!"

UPDATE: First snap poll: CBS snap poll of undecided voters: Biden 50, Ryan 31, Tie 19.

Those aren't percentages, those are the only undecided voters left.

Biden Is Having Fun

Touchdown Biden!

Let's hope he doesn't go too far and screw things up.

He's killing things.  Well, he's killing Paul Ryan.

Biden does a great job making facts sound like conversation. Ryan's numbers just glaze over you.

Paul Ryan giving a preview of the unsustainablity of Romney's foreign policy.

Live footage:

UPDATE:  This is ridiculous, but hilarious:


Most political outlets have moved to the much better model of conglomerating polls, rather than simply focusing on what Gallup or ARG have to say.  This is imminently sensible.

However, there have been a raft of GOP outfits flooding the zone with poll numbers.  There is Gravis Marketing, which no one had ever heard of ten months ago, suddenly polling everywhere.  Oh, yeah, and finding very good results for Mitt Romney.  There is the ubiquitous GOP friendly House of Rasmussen.  And Suffolk, who famously called Florida and Virginia for Romney despite most polls calling Obama slightly ahead there.

In some ways, this is the mirror image of the "skewing" argument of trying to ignore results you disagree with.  I don't necessarily want to do that.

But I'd really like to see the candidates internal polling.  I just can't help but wonder if all that SuperPAC money was used to create these start-up pollsters like Gravis and Wentzel Strategies in order to push results into the political discourse.

For instance, TPM lists Ohio as a "toss-up".  This is based on a series of polls from Zogby, Gravis and Rasmussen that all show the race within one point.  Meanwhile, the NBC/Marist poll has Obama up six points and over 50%.  CNN's last poll had Obama up four.

In Virginia, TPM has a 0.2% Romney lead.  Now, NBC/Marist has a 1 point Romney lead, but CBS/NYTimes has Obama up 5 and over 50%. McLaughlin and Pulse Opinion (both GOP outfits) have Romney up 7 and tied, respectively. PPP has Obama up 3.

The national polls are largely irrelevant to me, because I imagine there is a high amount of noise.  But these state polls are just all over the place.  And a lot of that volatility is coming from GOP outfits.

The Sorrow And The Pity

I just read two things over at TPM.

I think this also goes along with the SNL take (I haven't seen it) where they lampoon Chris Matthews' epic freakout the night of the debate.  Similarly, Andrew Sullivan needs to be on 24 hour suicide watch.

What is fascinating is something that seems much more prevalent among liberals than conservatives: the overwhelming sense that this is all about THEM.  This is not a blanket statement about all liberals.  Objectively Obama has not done much for me personally, as I am not a woman, gay or without health insurance.  I have a good, well paying job.  But, like the second piece, I acknowledge that Obama has done a great deal that I consider laudatory.

And for me it ends there.  I like what he does.  I like what I think he will do.  I will vote for him.

But there is a part of the liberal constituency - and to be fair to them, they are probably the ones canvassing and phone banking and writing oh-so-critical blog posts - who looked at Obama in Charlotte and Denver and said, "I want you to win, do YOU want you to win?"

Which I think is fundamentally a weird way to look at things.

At Charlotte, I thought Obama decided it would be in bad taste to appear personally triumphant in the midst of 8% unemployment.  And given the large and sustained bounce, I think he struck the right chord.

At Denver, his apparent contempt for the debates led to a poor performance.  But that performance was not NEARLY as bad as his own allies said it was.  Yes, Obama left a ton of meatballs out over the plate.  But read the transcript.  His answers were substantive and on point.  He failed to engage Romney and instead engaged Jim Lehrer.  That's not nearly the same category and Ford saying the Soviets aren't in Eastern Europe or Dan Quayle comparing himself to JFK.

The polls are starting to recede from the bounce just in time for another debate.  Biden is a better debater than people give him credit for.  Plus, Scranton Joe will cut a fool.

But if Obama shows up and engages the audience and Romney at the Town Hall (and I think he will) then maybe all those Manic Progressives who are freaking out over a polling bounce will calm down.

(BTW, Obama still leads Ohio comfortably.  No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Screw The Galtian Overlords

It's time we lined some of these neo-Galtian, over privileged, WATB up against a wall.

And, dude, if you shut down your business - and it was a business worth running - someone else will come around and do it for you.

But maybe they won't be such a selfish cry baby about it.

Cole Brings The Despair

Eye Of The Sparrow

Why I Think The Bounce Will Fade

Booman goes to town on Romney's latest blatant pander in saying he has "no legislative agenda to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Soonergrunt over at Balloon Juice talks about how he lost a lifelong friend from his time with the Marines because he talked about how he finds Romney to be without character.

The Manic Progressives that mistermix talks about are, I think, largely responsible for Obama's lackluster debate performance becoming a huge Romney bounce.  But in the cold light of day, Romney exposed again his penchant for saying whatever he needs to in order to win the audience in front of him.

The sheer amount of ammunition that the debate gave to Democrats to run on Romney being a duplicitous panderer should be enough to tilt the race back to Obama.  As I said at the time, debates are won AFTER the fact.  The polls that show Romney pulling even or ahead are based primarily on Thursday and Friday of last week.

I think the Obama campaign is doing a decent job attacking Romney's inconsistencies, but they do not have their usual brutal focus. The Big Bird ad is effective on its own, by mocking Romney, but they need to be hammering Romney's inconsistencies from now until election day.  How hard is it to juxtapose Romney saying he wants to overturn Roe v Wade with his statements yesterday?

All of that being said, I do think Obama will need a stronger debate performance.  Chait thinks he won't be able to given the formats.  I disagree.  I think the Town Hall format works best for Obama.  Romney can't filibuster or shout down the moderator the way he did with Jim Lehrer.  And Obama's biggest problem during the debate was in not personally engaging Romney (because I think he despises the man and can't even look at him).  At the Town Hall, he can engage the questioner.  The Town Hall debate with McCain was his best performance in 2008.

Sitting Presidents usually do poorly in the first debate, and Challengers benefit from sharing the stage with the President.

If the Obama campaign can continue to highlight the characterless pandering of Romney these past few days, and Obama shows up ready to engage the citizens at the Town Hall, I think the race will settle back to a 2-3 point Obama lead.

But Team Obama has to get on the stick.

UPDATE: This is exactly what I mean. But it should be the campaign that's doing it, not Daily Kos.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Bounce

Mitt won the debate.  He is now seeing a large bounce from polling late last week.  But apparently that bounce dissipated as the days wore on.  Thursday and Friday saw GREAT numbers for Romney.  Saturday and Sunday, less so.

Still, I think it's clear that Obama burned through his margin of error that he had built in September.  I don't think the race is quite a toss-up.  We have seen a TON of partisan Republican polling that seemed to coincide with the whole "skewing" argument.  I just don't trust Gravis Marketing farther than I can throw them.

We will know better in a week or two how sustained Romney's bounce from the debate was.  My guess is that it greatly energized Republicans.  I don't think it changed many minds, but I could be wrong.

I think long term it means Obama won't win North Carolina.  And the Democrats now probably won't take back the House from a despondent GOP.  

That last part stings.

Monday, October 8, 2012

And We Are Back

When you go to New York, you cannot but be impressed with the disparate types of people who live stacked on top of each other.  We stayed with a friend on the upper East Side and it was probably more exceptional when we heard unaccented English.

And today we went to the 9/11 Memorial (above).  We walked around and scanned the names, found the brother of a friend of ours and took in the construction straining the sky around us.

And as we read those names, it occurred to me that there is no such thing as an "American" name at Ground Zero.  Yeah, a lot of Irish and Italian names, but there were Indian, Chinese, Arabic and Hispanic names all over those panels.

Before going in there, we stopped by the cemetery at Trinity Chapel after giving a prayer inside for peace.  Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin - two of America's greatest Treasury secretaries and key figures in the early years of the Republic - are both buried there.  They had very different ideas about how to manage the public's finances and what America's role in the world should be.

But they were both immigrants, Hamilton from the West Indies and Gallatin from Switzerland.  Immigrants who devoted their lives to America.

Turns out there is no such thing as an American name anywhere.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Have A Nice Weekend

Trying to get the family down to NYC to see the Met, Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty.

Not sure what internet I'll have.

Take care.

Friday, October 5, 2012


As a Braves fan I'm used to October heartache.  Outside of '95 (and frankly '91) every postseason has ended in heartbreak and sadness.  I still hate Jim Leyritz with the heat of a thousand suns.

But just when I thought October couldn't get any MORE painful, MLB manages to find a way.

First, they reduce a 162 game season to a one game playoff.  The Braves win the third most games in the NL and they have to play a one game playoff.  They proceed to play VERY poorly.  So far we are holding to form.

Then - in one of the worst rulings I can remember since Jim Joyce - the LF ump misapplies the infield fly rule.

Just atrocious.

And Selig, Torre and the cowards at MLB will never overturn it on protest.

Just awful.

I bet Matt Ryan breaks his leg on Sunday to complete the month of suck.

Jobs Report

Have a bad debate?  Take two months of good job growth and call me in the morning.

Inevitably, we will see what TPM is calling BLSTruthers saying that the Obama administration cooked the numbers.  I doubt that, just because it would be devastating if and when it came out.  But... if there was a way to depress the numbers from the last few months, so that things would look rosy right when those pesky undecideds were paying attention, that would be savvy.

Also, we've seen a real increase in consumer confidence, which has been weird, unless there has been an invisible recovery that people are seeing before the stats reveal it.  The number is not an absolute good, but it's a relative good.  And it's VERY good news for Obama.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Soundbite War

The debate was kind of boring, when you think about. And debates often come down to soundbites.

Guess which soundbite is getting traction.  Nice zinger, Mitt.


The Pushback

The Obama campaign is flooding my inbox with notices of how rampantly Romney lied last night.  Which, you know, yeah.

This doesn't absolve Obama from sleepwalking through his debate.  But Obama - as a reader at TPM noted  - Obama is not very good at confrontation.  And so debates aren't really his forte.  Romney took advantage of this and played Alpha Dog.

I don't think this is going to swing the election, because how many women are going to be persuaded by Romney being a dick to Jim Lehrer?  The snap polls and focus groups all agree that Romney won the debate, but none of them really say that this has changed their votes.

To me, the real impact is among partisans.

Democrats have been sniping at Obama over the drone program recently.  They considered the race almost over and went back to Circular Firing Squad mode.  Meanwhile, the GOP was on suicide watch.

Romney's debate has put a shock into Democrats who spent the last few months amazed at the ineptitude of Romney as a candidate.  He's still an inept candidate, but he's an adept liar debater liar. Romney shambles is just a news cycle away from returning.  But Democrats are likely to re-rally behind Obama in the wake of a shaky debate.

But more importantly, I think it has energized Republicans who were also amazed at the ineptitude of their candidate.  Romney has shown - throughout his decades long pursuit of office - to be a vigorous, strident debater.  Obama made a decision (I guess it was a decision) to be low key.  It's his nature, after all.

Listening to NPR with half an ear this morning, Obama SOUNDED much better in sound bite form than Romney.  He was trying to be Presidential and aloof. Romney sounded overheated.  I'm not sure it worked the way Obama assumed it would.  I think Obama has also taken on the persona of a penitent, trying to make sure he doesn't sound triumphalist in the face of a crappy economy.

But he needs to come out as a fighter.  At the very least, Joe Biden needs to call Paul Ryan a liar to his face in the next debate.

I don't think this changed the race, but it changed the trajectory of the race, which was all against Romney.  He's stopped the bleeding, but he's still anemic.

Obama has to open a vein with the accusations of lying.  Bleed him white.  OK, whiter.

UPDATE: Oh, look!  I was right!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Scorecard

Romney had a good debate, in terms of energy and aggressiveness.  Romney was able to establish himself as a credible candidate. He did that, probably.

I think Romney was a dick, but I've thought that for a while.  Will other people think he's a dick?

The bigger issue is that Obama didn't force the attack.  Romney left a ton of openings.  He said a bunch of stuff that is either outright false or mathematically impossible. Obama let that slide.

My guess... well, my hope, is that Obama is simply feeding Romney rope.  He pressed Romney for details and Romney offered a bunch of random facts that masquerade as a plan.

The next 24 hours need to be a full on press by the Obama team to point out the inaccuracies and impossibilities of Romney's "plans".  If they let this go, then Romney wins.

But experience hath shown that debates are rarely won on the stage.  They are won after the fact.

ADDED: If Obama was the challenger, he'd be toast after this debate.  As it is, he left a ton of openings that are going to need to be hit by his staff.  If he wasn't already president that would be really damaging.  Romney apparently helped his favorables, but then again, he went back on everything he said previously.

UPDATE: My favorite comment over at Balloon Juice:

A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day! An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down, and BIG BIRD has been killed, But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, Bert, Ernie, Grover, men of the West, stand and SAVE BIG BIRD!