Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gov.LePage of Maine proclaims Milton Friedman day at 4PM--It's almost over

Gore Vidal dead at the age of 86 in L.A.

The Drunken Irishman Speaks Sense

The blogger on the Democratic Underground "The Drunken Irishman" writes occasionally and when he does I find he makes a whole lot of sense.

This is the time in the election cycle that I worry about voter suppression and the deluge of hidden money and the Diebold voting machines. So like many there are moments of paranoid that overcome commonsense.

The "Drunken Irishman"  says despite the media attempts to compare this election to past elections where incumbents lost, this simply is not "a change election." 

While Americans might not be satisfied with the direction of the country or entirely supportive of Obama's policies, we are not approaching the clamor for change that we saw in '08,'92,'80 and '76. Even in 2000,there was more a call for change than now because of the aftermaths of the Clinton-era scandals. 

What is peculiar to change years? You have very unpopular incumbents, very unpopular incumbents challenged in their own parties primaries, and you have viable third party candidates.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter was stuck in the 30s approval rating and couldn't get above 40 and 60% of Americans disapproved of him. In 1992, George H.W. Bush had approval ratings in the 30s and disapproval in the 60%. In July 1980 and in July 1992 the incumbents were in trouble even if barely behind. Jimmy Carter had to defeat Teddy Kennedy in the primaries and George H.W. Bush Pat Buchanan. You have John Anderson running in 1980 and in 1992 Ross Perot. 

The Drunken Irishman points out that in August of 1980 Reagan led Carter by seven and although the race tightened up in September Carter remained below 40 in the Gallup Poll.

In September 1992 Clinton led Bush by 49-37.

He believes that the dissatisfaction was so high in 1980 and 1992, the politics was so toxic and the environment so nasty that even Third candidates made noise. 

He says we are not there yet. Obama's approval rating stays slightly below 50% and his disapproval rarely crosses into the majority. Despite all the negative ads, the Fox News attacks on the President, all the ground elements say this is not a change election.

I hope the Drunken Irishman is right and he makes sense.


++Congratulations to Michael Phelps for becoming the record holder of most Olympic medals won of all time--19 now and counting and also the most gold medals by a large margin.

++Ann Romney's Dancing Horse won't be competing until Friday and Mitt promises to release his taxes if the horse wins the gold.

++Harry Reid this afternoon dropped a bomb on Romney by saying a Bain investor told him that Romney hadn't paid income taxes for ten years. Reid, a fellow Mormon, said Mitt's father would be ashamed. While he didn't know whether it was true, this just ups the ante on Romney and increases pressure as he returns from his world tour of three countries.

++Dudley Do-Right and his wife Nell return from Poland tomorrow after the Republican candidate managed to offend almost everyone except Bibi Netanyahu. In Israel, he promised to establish an embassy in Jerusalem calling it the capital of Israel. Not only did the Arab world express outrage but the Chinese even weighed on denouncing Romney. Ignoring the realities of Palestinian life, Romney suggested it was their culture that led to their lack of economic progress, prompting Palestinian leaders to cry him a racist. Minutes before a meeting with the Israeli opposition parties he cancelled at the request of Bibi. 

++Onward to Poland where a decrepit Lech Walesa endorsed his candidacy while Solidarity denounced him for his attacks on labor. Romney said that Russia posed the greatest strategic threat to the United States and he made a speech on the virtues of liberty. He did not comment on the trials in Russia of Pussy Revolt, the punk rock band on trial for hate crimes against the Orthodox Church. Canada's National Post charged that Romney had lapsed into political rhetoric and thought we haven't seen since the late 1980s. They likened it to George H.W. Bush against Gorbachev. 

++Romney's press secretary had a Ron Ziegler moment when he told the press corps this morning to "Kiss my ass", when he blocked them asking questions of the candidate. He screamed that the Tomb of the Unknown soldier was a "sacred site." 

++American media blasted the Romney trip as clumsy and gaffe-prone. Romney criticized the press accusing them of being pro-Obama. But even Republican operatives said that the trip bordered on lunacy. By the end of the day, the press secretary apologized and Romney walked back many of his statements which he claimed were mis-quotes and statements taken out of context.

++Mark Helperin on the Morning Joe show was praying that a bad jobs report would save Romney from this disaster and placed the election back into his court.

++The Greenberg poll released yesterday had Obama at 50 to Romney's 46 and Obama's approval at 50.

++Today PPP poll has Obama barely ahead 48-47 in Florida.

++A new Latin Decisions poll has Obama in the high 70s among Latino voters and Romney in the teens, a fatal number for Romney.

++The question is who will have the worse August. What began with a bad jobs report for Obama ended with several weeks of sheer mayhem by the Romney camp.

++Romney just released three new ads touting his achievements, including boasting he had the best jobs record as governor of Massachusetts, something that is flat wrong. 

++The Obama campaign now admits they will be outspent the rest of the way but are boasting of their superior organization. It has actually been stunning how poor Romney's organization has been both in the field as an elections campaign and how disorganized they were with this foreign trip.

++Republicans are banking on their superior discipline to put on a tight convention and to allow Romney to introduce himself again to the public. The Democrats have been fast off the block by lining up Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton to nominate President Obama and their first Latino keynote address.  Then we all wait for the debates.

++What will be the October Surprise--Bibi's attack on Iran, a scandal with Romney's taxes? 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

100 Days Left and What Do You Get?

**We're lucky the Olympics are occupying people's attention. No one can make up their minds who is going to win the election--the theocrat, the Master of Mendacity or the President and frankly people are beginning not to care.

**So where are we? President Obama still has a commanding  lead in the Electoral College. But he is behind in the national tracking polls. Personally I feel he has not done enough to sell his own record, which is actually quite awesome given the conditions he inherited and the consistent and deliberate policy of Republican obstructionism. 

** The RNC is putting out effective ads of people who formerly supported the President who want to vote for another change. The theme is that it is alright to vote to change the President. However, is it really now that we know about Romney's foreign policy and his amazing tax policy. 

**Nate Silver is off again into his sports fixation. But he does remind us that the 1.5% growth rate in the GDP may not be as bad for the President as it seems. Remember the "misery" index that Romney tried to introduce into the campaign. If you have no inflation, then the employment rate alone doesn't create a recipe for disaster. Also, another countervailing issue is the stock market, which is at 13,000 now, and also plays an indirect role in the election. 

**But Nate does point out that Obama's polling in the states where he is favored has been mediocre but still winning. He says that Obama's polling strength lies in the Swing States. For example, Magellan and We Ask America both showed Obama winning Ohio by 2 points and eight points respectively. Nate favors the Magellan poll as the most reasonable. Nate also says the Democrats can forget about Missouri. Maybe because Mormons believe Jesus will return there.

**As Charles Blow writing in the New York Times writes, Democrats have to be very concerned about the Superpac money pouring into the states and the voter suppression actions by states governed by Republicans. This past week saw court cases start against Pennsylvania's ID law and the amazing admission by state authorities that there are no cases of voter fraud in the state. Florida is not only purging lists of living voters but also trying to eliminating early voting. The Washington Post even published an op-ed that if Romney won with these two elements he would be seen as illegitimate.

**Currently in the Swing States the GOP barrage of ads are all anti-Obama but not pro-Romney. The GOP is desperately trying to get the election back to a referendum on Obama, rather than a choice between the President and Romney. 

**Earlier in the campaign I noted how Karl Rove was concerned that the Republicans have lost their two hardcore issues--taxes and national security. Romney's performance in the last few days hasn't engendered confidence on national security issues. On taxes, the seemingly inconsequential Senate vote against extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy actually puts the Democrats clearly on the side of the middle class and the GOP on the side of the wealthy. Whether this is perceived by the electorate is another matter.

**I started this blog four years ago and I wrote then that I really questioned whether this country had the political will to embrace the future and make the types of policy changes that would enhance the wealthy and security of the country. After 2010 and the recent campaign, I am still at the same place. Like  after an operation when our bodies "forget" the experience, we seem to have forgotten how the global economic collapse happened in the first place and how counter-productive the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been. We have made no societal change to embracing alternative energy and we are still absolutely clueless about the rest of planet earth. From the statements from the Republican side lately, I could see a compelling case for isolationism. Do we want to inflict ourselves on other countries anymore?

Mitt"s Magical Mystery Tour (Original)

++Mitt Romney did a triple Dukakis with his London visit that was aimed to "restore our special relationship with England". At least he injected a moment of humor into a dull campaign. Cartoonists and comedians are still reaping the benefits from his gaffe-filled trip. 

++ Romney's handlers blame his London performance on him not being fully briefed. How exotic is the United Kingdom for a two-time presidential candidate. The trip produced the Newsweek cover this week "Is Romney a Wimp?" and questions about his insecurity jeopardizing American foreign policy interests.

++Remember how the conservatives cheer the fact that the United States don't get the Olympics for Chicago? I guess turnabout is fair play. Prime Minister Cameron slapped down Romney's criticism of England's preparation by saying,"We have organized these Olympics in one of the busiest cities on the planet. It is easy to organize them in the middle of nowhere. " Whoosh went Romney's next qualification for President, his organization of the Salt Lake City Olympics.

++The Murdoch owned tabloids in the U.K. had a field day ripping Romney. Even Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer went on television to pronounce Romney's first stop an utter disaster.

++Just a week before his trip, Romney ripped President Obama before the VFW for leaks injuring our national security. So he steps out of 10 Downing Street to talk about the subjects of his briefing by the head of British intelligence--a big protocol no-no.

++Since one reason the Romneys went to London was the competition of Ann's horse in the dressage competition, Mitt threw her and the horse under a double-decker bus by saying he didn't know when the horse's event was, that the horse was Ann's and he didn't know whether he would attend. The Romney camp actually had a media blackout on the horse's trainer and rider.

++London Mayor Boris Johnson used the Romney criticism of Britain's preparation for the Olympics as an excuse to reeve up a crowd of over 75,000 of sassing them if they were "Ready!" 

++With the Libor scandal hanging over the British banks, Romney held a fund-raiser with the disgraced former head of Barclay's.

++An interesting coincidence was the fact that the journalist corps had reporters who had covered then candidate Obama's tour of Europe where he drew hundreds of thousands in Berlin. Needless to say the comparison was not flattering to the 65-year old Romney.

++The whole thing unravelled further when Romney's desire to secure the bust of Churchill for the White House got exposed. There are actually two busts of Churchill in the White House now and the bust loaned to George W wasn't returned by President Obama but moved to the residence.

++Observers shuddered about what gaffes Romney would make in Israel. 
     Would he order a ham sandwich on white with mayo?
     Would he stand at the Wailing Wall and say to Bibi Netanyahu," Tear Down this Wall?"
     Would he refuse to go to the memorial of the Holocaust victims and say, "I already baptized them all"?
     Would he say that the lost tribes of Israel were the Americans Indians so that Sheldon Adelson could build Israeli settlements on the reservations?
     Or would he try to make a deposit in the West Bank? (courtesy of Andy Borowitz)

++Instead, the Romney campaign cancelled a fund-raiser during a Jewish day of fasting,first denied press access and then allowed it for the rescheduled event. Against protocol,Romney didn't meet with the heads of the opposition parties like in the U.K. where he addressed Milliband as "Leader". 

++The real good news is that Romney said the problems of the Arab Spring, which produced governments dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood would have been alleviated if the United States had followed Bush's "Freedom Agenda." I guess he meant the success with Hamas winning the Gaza elections and the rise of Maliki in Iraq. There is some dangerous ideas behind his statement.

++Romney didn't disappoint. He proclaimed that he supported the move of the Israeli capital to Jerusalem, something that will win the hearts and minds of all the Middle Eastern world, including sane Israelis. He supported an Israeli attack on Iran, which would have so many unintended consequences you can't imagine. 

++But the President upstaged Romney before his visit by signing an United States-Israeli Security Pact and approving additional funds for the missile defense system we provided them. The Gallup poll has President Obama winning about 68% of the American Jewish vote and Romney 25%. 

++But the point of Romney's trip is not to secure Jewish voters but the evangelical voter who is skeptical about his Mormonism and his belief in Israel as the promised land.

++Next stop will be Poland where he means to correct the snub of Lech Walesa by President Obama , who did to agree to meet separately with him. So with Lech standing next to him,will Romney said, "You should outsource the Gdansk Shipyard to keep labor costs down"? Or will he said to a crowd in Warsaw," Ich bein ein Berliner?" The comedy tour will continue.

++One question I have is what happens with Romney's investments in Iran. He has invested millions in Lukoil(Russia)'s investment in four oil fields and the Iranian State Oil company. Is he giving those up for an attack on the country?

++Does any of this matter? It does because it reveals that Romney basically has adopted W's foreign policy without the Africa Aids Progams. This would mean another lost decade for the United States. And will Rom net come clean about his intent for war with Iran and how will that play out. 

++But Ed Rendell is probably right. It doesn't mean anything in terms of the election itself. 

++This week President Obama hits the campaign trail again and I hope he puts some lift into his message. I think he needs it for the last 100 days. 

++In some ways Romney escaped having questions asked about his taxes.

Mitt's Magical Mystery Tour

++Having just lost a lengthy post about Romney's gaffe prone tour of London and his eerie trip to Israel, I will not re-write --maybe later. But one wonders what will be next in Poland. This is the Wayback Machine. Can we really afford returning to the recent past. Do we really want to lose another decade?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Willard's Day

++Yesterday Romney led the national polls from 1-4%. This was the first time in this election cycle that he had done that.

++If you want to read an excellent piece on the difference between national and state polls, yesterday's Nate Silver analysis in www.fivethirtyeight.com lays out the terrain.

++So while Romney is off offending the British, there are some state polls that bear watching:

Rasmussen on Nevada:Obama 50 and Romney 45.
Quinnipiac on New York: Obama 55 and Romney 32.
Monmouth University on New Jersey: Obama 51 and Romney 38.
PPP on Michigan: Obama 59 and Romney 33.
PPP on Pennsylvania: Obama 54 and Romney 37.

++Another poll on Latino voters emerged. NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo. Obama 67% and Romney 23%. The Romney number is a killer.

++The Bain and tax ads are paying off. Mitt Romney has the worse favorables of any Republican candidate in history. He stands at 35% favorable and 40% unfavorable. Even John Kerry after absorbing the Swift Boat ads still ended up the 2004 campaign with a net positive.

++Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish had an observation which I thought really summed up the national polls. He said that until after August the numbers really were place-holders, people just biding time before they really have to make a decision.

++ Romney's secrecy has become pathological. It has been reported that the letters between father and son have disappeared from the George Romney Library. In his interview with Brian Williams, Romney again doubled down on not releasing his taxes because it would give Democrats ammunition. Isn't there an issue about transparency and tradition or is everything partisan? Today, even people working with Ann Romney's horse could not be interviewed by the press at the Olympics. 

++You choose--observers say that the stock market will determine whether Obama wins or not; another observer tracks droughts and how they affect elections and the Midwest drought might cause Obama's defeat. 

++To counter the ads about Romney's secrecy on Bain and taxes, the so-called  Conservative Majority SuperPac released an ad against President Obama invoking  his birth certificate, college transcripts and selective service application. The trouble is that the Romney people are finding out about negative ads against Obama is that the American electorate are pretty used to the President and already have a strong opinion about him so at best they ding him a point but the ads against Romney severely hurt his favorables.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Wayback Machine

Mitt Romney is supposed to stress the "Anglo-Saxon" heritage we share with Great Britain because President Obama doesn't appreciate the special relationship with have had. Romney vows to restore the "Anglo-Saxon" relations we have had. 

Where do you begin? It really sounds like a politician from the late 19th century or early 20th century in the United States, a country that had not experienced desegregation and an influx of refugees from around the world. It is a nativist vision perpetrated by the wealthiest. And, as a vision of foreign policy in the 21st century, it is ghastly.

Joe Biden took after Romney's VFW speech today saying it was a throwback to the Cold War. In particular, Romney went after Russia and China. But Biden pointed out that while the United States has serious problems with Russia, the administration did persuade them not to sell the most advanced radar to Iran and we negotiated a New Start treaty with Russia that was opposed by every Republican with the exception of Dick Lugar.

Romney also attacked the defense cuts, which the congressional Republicans agreed upon as part of their side of the debt deal and now they want to renege upon. But still defense spending doubled since 2000 anyway and it is time for it to be cut. However, Romney wants to increase it further. We still have a defense budget which is total to the next 30 countries combined. If you feel we are not secure, then that says more about your own feelings of insecurity and anxiety.

Chris Matthews was loaded for bear today going after Romney's war-mongering. Michael Steele looked like a deer in the lights because he could not answer one time that President Obama ever apologized for the United States. Matthews kept pressing him on why it is that every recent Republican President seems to have a new war on his mind.

In this case it is Iran. Romney simply repeated what Obama is already doing, which was the case throughout the primaries, but he also insisted that Iran not be allowed to enrich uranium at all. The only problem here is that the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a signatory and Israel is not does allow enrichment for civil purposes. Romney insisted he would prevent that. How?

You have to go back to the 1990s to understand Romney's foreign policy. Then a group, who would later become stalwarts in the George W. Bush administration, articulated a thing called the next American Century. I've known many of these people when I was younger. But remember that was over 16 years ago--three Presidents ago. Brazil, Indonesia, China , India have all become major international economic players. The Soviet Union is no more and it did not morph into that type of political player. But the thinking of these people never changed. They don't even recognize the growing economic power of Canada. 

Romney's first error was his recollection of a conversation with the new Australian Prime Minister who told him that America was one budget deal away from reversing decline. This is a man who is Left of President Obama and who said that the deal last year would have stopped everything but the GOP could not agree. Instead, Romney interpreted the comments a different way and the Australian government had to intercede and slap him down.

It is hard to grasp how inauthentic Romney's views are because he has never had skin in the game. His wealth is overseas. He pays a far smaller tax rate than the average American. None of his sons nor he or his father ever served in the armed forces. So there is no stake in war--there is no cost--human, financial or otherwise. And then there is this strange idea of the "white man's burden", a fawning of empire that is dangerous for the future of the United States. How else does one interpret the "anglo-saxon" legacy? Even Ike split from England over the Suez Canal. Are we going into Niall Ferguson's phantasies of an American empire supplanting England's?  We've lived through the Cold War, the Bosnian war, the Iraq and Afghanistan War. Does anyone believe this stuff other than the audience for Masterpiece Theater?

Part of this exercise is to exploit racial resentment of President Obama and invoke some worldview that the wealthy in this country unconsciously accept as their own. The problem for this country is that Barack Obama looks like the rest of the world and the country doesn't want to be a part of it. It gets back to Dick Cheney's one state nationalism, which can be unilaterally aggressive abroad or isolationist. Part of this stems from the racial views of foreign policy going back to Theodore Roosevelt. 

Whether this nationalism can sell after so many wars and a fatigue of war remains to be seen. But if triumphant again, it would spell doom for the United States because the world simply has moved on and doesn't accept our leadership uncritically.

Ride, Sally Ride

++We miss Sally Ride, our first women astronaut, who died of pancreatic cancer yesterday. She left behind her female partner of 27 years and a record of spearheading science education in the United States. She could have been a professional tennis star. Billie Jean King had been her tutor but she opted to be part of the first civilian group of women accepted as astronauts and became a role model for young women in the future. 

++President Obama addressed a jubilant crowd at the VFW meeting in Reno, Nevada yesterday. For the first half of his speech he recounted his achievements in foreign policy and talked about getting bin Laden when others thought him naive during the 2008 campaign. The second half of his speech was on his very substantial achievements in terms of veterans' programs both in terms of health care and job training and education.

++Today, Mitt Romney spoke to the same group and tried to sell the VFW on the fact that he would insure that the United States would be the most powerful country in the world and blamed President Obama for the security leaks surrounding the bin Laden mission. He called the President reckless and "radical". He criticized President Obama's announced departure from Afghanistan in 2014 only to pledge to leave the country on the same date. He also blasted the President on his Iran policy. But one thing he neglected to mention to the veterans--any plans for veterans health and well-being. Instead, he said he would never apologize for American power. But then again he always asks everyone to apologize to him. I'm not sure this VFW is the same one as the VFW of World War II vets.

++In today's Gallup poll, Mitt Romney was widely believed to be better for the economy and for the deficits. But President Obama wipes the floor with Romney on the issue of foreign policy.

++A Pew poll finds that Americans are fairly certain they know enough about both candidates to make a choice. Perhaps, we should have elections this week so we can rest easier the next few months.

++An Ipsos/Reuters poll found that 36% of Americans said that knowing about Bain made them less likely to vote for Romney. 26% of independents said less but 13% said more likely. 50% of people said that the public has the right to know what is in Romney's taxes and 54% of independents thought Romney's taxes were an important issue.

++An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that the negative advertising hurt President Obama's favorables but demolished Romney. Romney now is the first Republican nominee with more unfavorables than favorables.

++PPP found Obama had his worse polling month since April, showing the race tied at 46-46.

++PPP had Obama up by 6 in Minnesota, which is less than the last poll.

++Rasmussen had Obama up by 6 in Michigan, which dispels the notion that Michigan had been a tied race. 

++The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has Obama 49 and Romney at 43. In the Swing States Obama has a 49-41 lead. The Dailykos showed that Romney is struggling in the early 40s in the Swing States, which is not a good sign of his prospects.

++Romney is off to the UK to watch his dancing horse and have a fund-raiser at the Barclay Bank CEO who resigned in scandal. Romney is off for a week tour to Poland and Israel, where he is expected to deliver two major foreign policy speeches. They have to be better than his VFW speech or he will forfeit foreign policy to President Obama for the election.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

State Of Play--July 22

++The Electoral vote is aligning together:

Electoral Vote.com 332 Obama 206 Romney
Election Projection  303 Obama 235 Romney
538                        332 Obama 206 Romney
Princeton Consortium 332 Obama 206 Romney
Real Clear Politics       332 Obama 206 Romney

Obama on Intratrade yesterday 60.2%
Nate Silver on Romney's chances today: 32%
Intratrade on Romney today: 36.5%

++The reason Obama remains in decent shape is that he has led in 90% of Swing State polls during this cycle. Romney would have to take the lead and hold it for several polls until the dynamic would change.

++The alignment of the Electoral vote tallies has to do with recent Florida polls showing Obama in a lead. For instance, the Survey USA poll shows Obama with a 48 to 43 lead. Most importantly, the poll shows Obama way ahead with those who use cellphones.

++A few other observations. Larry Sabato said today that independents really only constitute 5-6% of the electorate. Nate Silver says they break toward the incumbent but then again we haven't seen the money deluge yet and the effects of voter suppression efforts. Also Obama in the past week has registered larger leads in the Gallup poll hitting a 48-44 lead. The likely voter filter is being put on more polls, which should favor Republicans but that doesn't seem to be true this year.

++Remember no Ohio, no Republican president. While Calvin Coolidge won but lost Florida and Virginia, he didn't lose Ohio. Never been done by a winning  Republican. In the Republican Rasmussen poll,Obama has a 47 to 45 lead over Romney in Ohio and the Swing State polls showed Obama with a slightly larger lead in Ohio. 

++The multiple tracking sites have the Republicans picking up Indiana and North Carolina this year. The only real bright spot for Romney in the state polls was a right-leaning Civitas poll showing he has a 49-48 lead over President Obama in North Carolina.

++PPP shows Obama up 49-44 in New Mexico. 

++University of New Hampshire shows Obama at 49-45 and ARG has Obama up by 51 to 43 in New Hampshire.

++Obama's best state is New York at 61-34 in the Siena poll and Pepperdine shows him up 52 to 33 in California. 

++Two Nevada polls show Obama in the lead. Magellan has him at 50-46 and We Ask America has it 49-43. 

++Decision Latino shows Obama with an overwhelming lead among Latino voters. Among naturalized citizens 72 to 19. Among U.S. born Latinos 69 to 25. 

++Rasmussen has Obama leading Pennsylvania 48 to 44.

++Almost all these polls were done prior to the whole controversy over Romney's taxes and whether he will release any more. We haven't seen the impact of the Obama ads on Romney's taxes on the polls, if any. Pollsters are saying that the two sides look locked in now and that all the rest of the campaign will be struggling over a few percentage of voters.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Obama's Worst Idea--Repeated

++President Obama has agreed again to participate in a candidate forum with Mitt Romney sponsored by Rev. Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in California. Last time he did this was with John McCain and McCain was supposed to be in the "Cone of Silence" so he didn't know the questions. Warren stacked the audience with the social conservatives of his church and McCain used the code words for having been born again, although that wasn't true. McCain came away with a bump in the polls. This time Warren will pretend Mormons are Christian and ignore the fact that Obama is the only Christian in the race.

++Following this was the second worse idea of Obama's campaign--allowing Warren a spot to pray at his swearing in.

++Mr. President, please don't go. The event is scheduled for August.

++Meanwhile,the Intratrade index has Obama at his highest ranking for re-election since May. The Not Mitt Nominee index, created by a blogger, has it 45% that Mitt will not be the nominee. The Index was 10% when he finally won enough delegates for the nominee. 

++While polls have been mixed today,the real discussions have been about Romney's taxes and whether he took advantage of the tax amnesty by closing his Swiss Bank account. This lead to several articles seriously raising the question whether he really could be the nominee. Coupled with accusations about committing a felony on his SEC forms--the accusation that got Romney personally fired up--these speculations are less fanciful than mere fun election projections. 

++If Romney decided to bow out for any reason, some say his VP pick would be the logical nominee. In this case, the odds are on Tim Pawlenty, Lawrence O" Donnell's pick. Others say that the party would pick Jeb Bush. Strange stuff but observers have said that Romney has never released his tax returns, even when running for Governor and that his Bain colleagues claim he would never have run for President if he thought he had to. Strange? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Barack Obama Versus the Bain Bleeder

By the end of the day, the conservatives are up in arms against Romney and demanding he release his taxes. A lot of that comes from the resentment about how he won the primaries using attack ads and bombing out anyone who challenged him. This is not a candidate well-loved by his rivals. In 2008, everyone couldn't stand him and in 2012 everyone can't stand him. 

Only Charles Krauthammer said that he shouldn't and it was no big deal. 

For the Obama campaign, they have boxed Romney in and when and if he releases his taxes they will make him the poster boy for what is wrong with our tax system and vulture capitalism. If he doesn't, then they can campaign on how Romney is secretive and will not reveal what he would or would not do on a whole range of policy issues.

To party officials and operatives it is mystifying why Romney allowed himself to get into this situation. They point out that he even had this issue occur when he ran for Governor and even during the 2008 primary campaign. Why didn't his campaign team anticipate this attack and be able to counter it? It has already taken a toll on his credibility and now whispers are about his viability.

Can you actually go to the Convention without releasing your taxes? Can you choose a Vice Presidential candidate and then have him respond to the press whether you should release your taxes? Michael Steele said he didn't believe it. But Romney by late afternoon fired at his Republican critics saying they did not know how Democrats considered taxes issues these days. He claimed it was different from the past.

Steele argued that whatever is in the tax returns Romney can say it was all perfectly legal and that he understood how someone of his wealth benefited from the system and that he vows to change it. But that isn't Romney's position. With his tax proposals, he would net $85 million more. So Michael Steele proposal is eminently reasonable but it is not the mindset of a CEO.

What most financially savvy observers speculate is that Romney's 2009 return will probably show he paid little or not taxes because of large capital losses. This would be seen by the average American as another rich guy not paying his fair share. But if that is the case, then he should have released his returns earlier because that fact alone will not damage him as much as his reluctance to release anything.

The Obama campaign actually has a lot of room to maneuver on this issue whether he releases his returns or not. It is already a negative for Romney. It is clear that he can't take the heat. Today, he and his campaign spent all day suggesting Obama hates business and is a foreigner. It presumes your audience has never heard the President speak or talk about the American dream. 

Juan Williams wrote today in the Hill that while Republicans bemoan Romney's failure to rise above his Bain issue and talk about Obama's "failure" on jobs Romney doesn't have much of a jobs program himself, only supporting the construction of the oil pipeline, which would generate about 2,500 jobs. 

In short, when the Bain stuff clears and it doesn't look like it will any time soon, Romney is then exposed to actually having to argue policy. Just this week, Republican Senators expressed confusion about his Afghanistan policy. This will run the gamut from foreign affairs to tax policy.

Then we have the Olympics, which Romney thought would be an excellent occasion to showcase his Salt Lake City triumph but it looks like a vacation with his wife to watch their horse. It looks like a man abandoning his campaign mid-stream, something Newt Gingrich was always being criticized for.

Any campaign wants to have the breakout moment. Instead, Obama's team have brilliantly boxed Romney in so that even with future poor jobs reports Romney may not get any traction for at least two months. By then it could be too late. 

By the time people start paying after Labor Day, Romney's character will be a major issue and he will have failed to make this election a referendum on Obama. Instead, as James Carville has suggested, this election is about the middle class and Obama has the chops to make that message stick.

Pressure Builds on Romney to Release His Taxes

++Michael Steele says that Romney needs a Moses moment, "Let my taxes go". 

++Erin Burnett of CNN warned Romney that he has to release more taxes.

++Rick Perry called on Romney to release his taxes and be as transparent as he can be and then he called on President Obama to release his college transcripts.

++Slate's Money and business blog printed an analysis that people should emphasize the 2009 release because that was the year the IRS had an amnesty for the offshore accounts and Romney would have to avail himself of this. It also appears to be the year that Romney's trustee closed his Swiss account because it might look bad politically.

++The New Republic has a piece by Tim Noah called "Mitt Romney: Crybaby Capitalist". 

++The National Review called on Romney to release his tax returns.

++Democrats speculate Romney didn't pay any taxes on the missing years while still others think it will show he cheated the Mormon Church out of his tithes. 

++A woman called the Stephanie Miller show to say that she was at the governor's mansion in Massachusetts when Romney took the custom-made drapes down after his term of office was up.

++If you think the Bain-tax release controversy is something, what until we return to Romney erasing all the hard drives for his whole term as governor. That would mean almost a whole lifetime of records, with his financials, wiped out. Truly a Nowhere Man.

++Romney tried to piggyback on the Sununu remarks about Obama being alien to the American economy by commenting to a Pennsylvania audience that Obama had foreign ideas about the economy and he happily distorted what Obama said about small business in Virginia as some criticism of small business. This stuff might help in your reception with a small audience but it bombs with the larger audience once you are called out on it. The Detroit News wrote a blistering editorial on Romney's misquoting Obama and backed Obama's view that even the most successful don't get ahead by their lonesome.

++You know you have problems when surrogates have to go out and clean up for other surrogates. Tim Pawlenty had to appear on television to correct the impression left by John Sununu.

++A Granite state poll has Obama ahead by 49-45 in New Hampshire , a slight erosion of support from the past poll.

Seamus is in the car--retroactively

++John Sununu backtracked his statement about Obama being a pot-smoking socialist but he doubled down on Romney not releasing his tax returns.

++Romney said today he "was not enthusiastic about releasing more tax returns."

++Ron Paul said Romney would help himself out by releasing more tax returns.

++To Politico, McCain said it wasn't the tax returns that had anything to do with him not tapping Romney. He said,"Sarah Palin was a better candidate." Zing!

++Reporters are now asking the Romney campaign whether his vice presidential pick will release his or her tax returns.

++As Romney headed to Pennsylvania, Obama's "Makes You Wonder" ad has hit the airwaves there. Romney has been struggling with trying to approach the middle class so today he said, "Liberal policies don't create jobs." 

++The Washington Post says that this flap is of Romney's making. What was a "minor hiccup" has now become a train wreck and could be a defining moment in the campaign.

++About to bask in his Olympic glory, Romney was hit by a story that he lobbied and received $342 million in federal bailouts for the Olympics and he still brought it in with a huge deficit.

++PPP has done their first poll of Iowa since May and finds that Obama has an 48-43 lead, when before he led 51 to 41. His margin is still primarily the gender gap.

++Reporters are now asking whether it is time for Ann Romney to release her taxes.

Romney Tries To Fight Back--Sort of

++Just for balance ,since the Romney campaign may announce their vice president to change the topic, here are the top three on the short list--Senator Robert Portman from Ohio, Former Governor Tim Pawlenty and Governor Bobby Jindal.

++John Sununu of New Hampshire , a Romney surrogate, charged that Obama was a pot-smoking socialist from Hawaii who never learned how Americans did business and he should learn how to be an American.

++This echoed Rush Limbaugh who yesterday said that Obama hates America.

++Yesterday, Mitt Romney told Fox News that President Obama could use his tax returns against him and that's why he didn't release them. Romney now says that John Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz didn't release her tax returns in 2004, prompting one wag to quip that "Is Romney running for First Lady?" In fact after much persuasion, Mrs. Kerry did release two years of her tax returns and John Kerry had already disclosed twenty years.

++Chris Matthews on Hardball yesterday asked whether Romney was a tax cheat. 

++Abby Huntsman , Jon's daughter, penned an op-ed for Huffington Post that said Romney would rather bow out of the race than release his taxes. A little rivalry here with Jon, who always seemed to be about to unleash a bomb on Romney for his overseas investments.

++Romney had to pull his ad with Barack Obama singing the Al Green tune because of copyright infringement. The ad was his counter to the Obama ad "Firms", which won acclaim. The difference was that Romney did not introduce the ad "I approve this ad" and it went after Obama for "crony capitalism", only opening Romney to charges that he had not revealed the identity of his bundlers for the campaign.

++President Obama's ad hit over 1,000,000 on the internet and he led off today with "Makes You Wonder", attacking Romney on what he is hiding by not releasing his taxes.

++A poll this morning showed that 56% of Americans want Romney to release his taxes for the past 12 years.

++Even David Gergen, who it turns out had been paid by Bain, urged Romney to release his taxes.

++Mark Halperin writing in Time said that "Republicans would be even more nervous if they knew what Chicago (Obama's headquarters) was still, patiently , sitting on."

++Bloomberg followed up their article on 35 questions Romney must answer to put the Bain story to rest with a piece by William Cohen who raises the issue of the mysterious IRA Romney has that amassed between $21 million and $102 million during 15 years at Bain.

++The Dallas Morning News today blasted Romney of "foolishly swimming upstream against public opinion and common sense. Extensive disclosure of tax information is a rite of passage all candidates accept the moment they declare for the presidency."

++Both US News and Business Week said that Romney's responses to the questions about Bain were not good enough and US News said that Romney's asking for an apology just doesn't' work in our politics.

++People raised the issue of how can Romney hold up if confronted by a real crisis and the business press raised the "Wimp Factor."

++The flap has generated days of cartoons about Romney and even John Stewart and Steve Colbert devoted major segments on skewering the Republican.

++While they was a fuss over Ralph Lauren outsourcing the Olympic uniforms, Romney surrogates said Romney wouldn't comment because he was a patriot. But only hours later, the story broke that he outsourced the Olympic uniforms in 2002 to Burma, where the they were made by slave labor and women claimed they were raped.

++Hitting the campaign trail in Ohio yesterday, President Obama hit Romney on his tax plan and got off a good line that Romney's plan would create 800,000 .. but overseas. The campaign put out a graphic showing what countries would get the most jobs from Romney's plan to give tax benefits to companies who outsourced jobs. 

++Steven Schmidt, who was John McCain's campaign manager, tried to stop the rumor that Romney's tax returns led to Sarah Palin being chosen Vice President. Schmidt admitted he had not seen the returns but the McCain campaign at that point was sensitive to Cindy McCain having 15 homes and such wealth that Romney was ruled out. However, people are demanding that Culverhouse who vetted the vice presidents talk about the tax returns he saw.

++On the web there has been a big document dump as people are again releasing all the opposition research the McCain people did on Romney.

++GOP operatives are trying to put a unique spin on recent events saying that President Obama is spending so much money now he will be in a hole come the fall. That this attack on Romney now will basically exhaust his ammunition. However, the Obama campaign says not. In fact, there are a serious of hits they are planning. The main effect is to portray Romney as the personification of everything that was wrong with our economy when it collapsed in 2008.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole

++The Obama Superpac had said the past week that their Bain ads were setting up the next phase of their attack on Mitt Romney. Is it going to be tax returns?

++The Romney campaign released an ad today with pundits like Doug Brooks, Mark Halperin and others bemoaning Obama's negative campaign. The kicker is that the ad is framed by Bob Schieffer asking "What happened to hope and change?" Unfortunately Bon Schieffer saw the ad and was shocked by it and instantly distanced himself from it.

++The Boston Globe continued its investigation into Bain Capitol with an analysis of Romney's Massachusetts corporate submissions. This past week the Romney campaign demanded an apology from the Globe and didn't receive it. The Romney folks had been successful getting people like the Washington Post to apologize but it seems that has worn thin and no longer a successful gambit.

++Paul Ryan was on the campaign trail defending Romney by crying that "his holdings are in a blind trust",thereby opening another possible front in this issue.

++Forbes Magazine, the "Capitalist Tool", printed an article that said Romney had to answer at least 35 questions before the Bain issue would go away. 

++The real next issue is the release of tax returns. This puzzles conservatives. FOX news today pointedly blamed Romney for all the confusion over this issue,raising the question why hadn't he cleaned all this up before he ran again for President. Matthew Dowd claimed there must be something that Romney is hiding and George Will said,"Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them". Will may be right. During the primary, Romney said he wasn't releasing his tax returns because he didn't want to do "opposition research for the Obama campaign." Since Democrats have argued that Romney doesn't pay the same rate as middle-class Americans,there must be more to the picture.

++In some ways, Bob Woodward was right today that releasing financial forms doesn't really tell you that much. But the pathological secrecy of the Romney campaign on this issue has been severely damaging to him.

++The Donald says that Willard should not release his tax returns until Obama proves his identity. Romney could use the birthed issue as a wedge to prove his bonafides as a card-carrying conservative.

++One thing the Obama campaign has done is set up the next stage of the Romney campaign by sowing the seeds for challenges to his Olympic story. The story has been covered in the past about the corruption at that time in Salt Lake City. Romney managed to smooth over the issues with the contractors and even kept the biggest on board, despite criminal investigations.

++A Democratic blogger raised the interesting question of how would the press have treated Romney's financial dealings if he had speculated in cattle futures like Hillary Clinton. 

++There does not seem to be an easy escape for Romney on the financial side. Observers speculate that Romney has not been on the campaign trail this weekend and has ceded the debate to his surrogates who all have mixed and contradictory messages. The most hyperbolic statements have Romney actually bowing out of the campaign, while others think he will have another Shiny Object moment of picking a vice-president to avoid the subject. But even here, opposition research by Democrats have been in high gear on all the major choices for Romney. So even this will not go down lightly.

++What if after all this and the constant barrage of the last three years against Obama, we actually have a result in November that is similar to 2008? RealClearPolitics has the race Obama 332 electoral votes and Romney 206. Obama has Florida, Virginia, Michigan and Ohio, while Romney picks up North Carolina and Indiana from Obama. 

Electoral College-Mid-Month

++TPM has their election tracker up and running. It is Obama at 281 to Romney at 191. They have 66 toss-ups--North Carolina (15), Michigan (16), Iowa (6) and Florida (29).

++Electoral Vote has Obama at 297 to Romney at 212 with 29 tied (Florida). More ominously they have the Senate at 49-48 with 3 ties. 

++Nate Silver says Obama picked up this week because of the Dow. He has Obama at 297.4 to Romney 240.6 and Obama at a 67% chance of winning.

++Daily Kos' Steve Singiser has an excellent read today at the Daily Kos "Mitt Romney's complicated path to 270 electoral votes". It is an excellent analysis of how to read the state of play in the electoral college by examining a series of state polls and finally realizing that both candidates' bases are pretty set but that even though Romney's base support is composed of more states, they are less in terms of electoral votes. He warns Democrats that such a race can change rapidly and that the margin of error for electoral predictions is truly huge. He also warns against fantasizing about candidates taking certain states by surprise--like Obama re-capturing Indiana or taking Arizona. This stuff rarely happens. 

++The McClatchy-Marist poll today has Obama with a slight lead.

++The  Mason-Dixon Florida poll has Obama barely ahead of Romney 46-45  and with Gary Johnson at 2.

A Pause Before The Next Waves of Polls

Karl Rove reminds us that the Obama attacks on Bain are "gutter politics at its worse--Chicago style." He says these will turn off independent voters. Thanks, Karl.

Lost in the uproar of the past week has been the story that has the right to lifers upset. Apparently, Mitt Romney owned a piece of Stericycle, a company that disposed of fetuses. 

Bloggers are still posting rumors how long will it take before Romney quits. One ingenious blogger posted a clip of the Sugar Ray Leonard versus Roberto Duran fight with Duran uttering those immortal words,"No Mas."

Florida's Rick Scott won the right to get the federal registrar of non-citizens so he can continue purging the voter lists. At least there is one state which is trying to ensure Romney's victory.

Rick "Ole Frothy Mix" Santorum is back on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania hawking Romney. One problem is that Romney didn't appear.

President Obama spent two days campaigning in Virginia and for good luck he got hit with a downpour like in 2008. The Virginia campaign saw large and enthusiastic crowds. There they even boo'd the President when he said he was cutting his speech short because he wanted them out of the rain. 

Dick Cheney said on Romney," He is the type of President I want when 9/11 happens again." I guess he meant "elderly". 

If you missed it, the House repealed Obamacare for the 33rd time. But this week paid off benefits for some Americans as health insurance companies paid out rebates because they exceeded the cap on administrative costs and profits. Also, information coming out of HHS shows that women are rapidly reaching parity in health insurance rates because of the bill.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

++The Romney campaign has just significantly out raise the Obama camp, held a megamillion fund-raiser in the Hamptons with David Koch, and flew to Wyoming to have another fund-raiser with Dick Cheney. So they had the big "Mo".

++The Olympics were coming up. A chance to showcase Romney's Salt Lake City experience. The Romneys are flying to London for the Olympics. A mini-kerfluffle hits about Olympic uniforms being outsourced to China. Good opportunity for Willard to hit Obama. But then again it turns out that Romney outsourced the Olympic uniforms at the Salt Lake affair. So no political point. Then the trainer of Ann Romney's horse releases a statement that he has never before seen a horse doped up as much as the one going to the Olympics.

++Democrats in the Beltway had been critical of the Obama campaign running the Bain ads saying it was old news. But polling showed it wasn't and that they resonated with voters in swing states.

++And then this week we had the perfect storm. The SEC documents and the filings in Massachusetts showed that Romney hadn't retired from Bain to manage the Olympics but stayed on until 2001 and know today it comes out until 2002. He Retired Before he didn't.

++This sounds like small potatoes but it goes to the central defense of Romney's Bain existence his whole political life. From his run for governor through his last presidential campaign, he argued that he ended his career at Bain in 1999. This is for a simple reason. The company's most egregious outsourcing deals came after then and they faced government investigations for dubious financing. He has tried to escape this for the past decade.

++Ed Klein writing in Time remembers how the George H.W. Bush used the Willie Horton ad against Michael Dukakis and likens the Obama attack on Romney as having the same effect. In short, Obama is turning Romney into the Republican's Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, another flawed candidate from Massachusetts. The irony is that Romney has the maker of the Willie Horton ads as part of his campaign.

++Romney attacked Obama saying these ads on Bain are beneath a President and demanded an apology. The Obama campaign immediately used Romney's visual of asking for an apology and released an ad of all the personal attacks of Romney on President Obama. Asked today about whether he would apologize, President Obama said that since Romney's whole campaign is that he is "Mr. Fix-it for the economy", voters have the right to know his experience as a businessman. 

++The Wall Street Journal printed an article this week that Bain's job creation numbers were 1,300 and not the 100,000s Romney claimed during the primaries. Coupled with his poor record as a job creator as Governor, this spells hurt for a debate but not fatal.

++Following up the Vanity Fair piece on Romney's offshore accounts, various other publications picked up the fact that Romney was the sole owner of a Bermuda corporation. The response by Republicans was that Valerie Jarrett also banked in Bermuda. But the drip-drip-drip continued.

++Another bomb hit this week as legal analysts claimed that technically Romney's holdings are not in "blind trusts". This was his defense on the campaign trail that he didn't know where his money was and didn't know about the offshore accounts. His accounts are managed by his personal attorney, who was the one who liquidated the Swiss bank account because it was politically unsightly. Reporters were trying to find out how a "blind trust" could invest in Romney's son's business without him knowing.

++Republicans started complaining that Romney should get out ahead of these stories and the campaign complained they were "bedwetters". Pete Sessions said that Romney's finances were fair game in the election and called for him to be more open about it. His surrogates for the week were all over the map, some calling for him to release his tax returns, others saying he shouldn't. Both Haley Barbour and Michael Steele said that the Romneys should release the tax returns to minimize further damage. Romney himself told the public in his Friday interviews that two years of returns would be all they get.

++John Weaver, who was with the Jon Huntsman campaign, told the Romney people to stop "whining." Rahm Emmanuel this morning also said the same. Senator Dick Durbin said that "Romney was running from Bain like a scalded cat." Joe Trippi said that Romney was caught flat-footed and looked foolish in his resposes to the attacks.

++Political operatives from both sides said that Romney looks ridiculous,which is fatal in politics. They say he looks trapped and silly and that asking for an apology is losing. 

++Before Romney decided to plead for time on three major networks to answer all the charges, he had avoided talking to the major networks. What prompted the request was the rapid fire Obama ads that were devastating. 

++Film directors and political ad masters are calling Obama's "America the Beautiful " ad a classic masterpiece in political ads. Sound men are thrilled that so many bloggers picked up the audio techniques which make Romney sound like he is singing in closed factories and plants. It is an ad that lays out outsourcing, offshore accounts, and the tax questions in one short coherent message. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo called it brutal "Bitch Slap" politics from the Chicago school. Democratic bloggers were thrilled saying that Obama was now acting like a Republican using the attack techniques of Karl Rove. Other pundits likened the ad to LBJ's "Daisy Ad" used against Barry Goldwater.

++The damage done was palpable. You could see it when the Romney people floated the idea of Condi Rice as Vice President,through Matt Drudge. They wanted people to track the shiny object. When that didn't work,the Romney camp shot it down on their own. But rumors persisted that Romney could only save his presidential bid by choosing a different kind of Vice President, even though this makes little practical sense. Before his interviews on Friday, even Republicans were openly voicing concerns that Romney would have to frankly address these issues and shut the discussions down. What fueled part of the anxiety was the release of SEC documents that showed Romney as Chairman, CEO, and managing director of Bain in 2001 and the idea that Romney may have committed a felony. By the time of the interviews, people were expecting a Checkers Speech and Romney proclaiming "I am not a Crook". They would be disappointed.Democratic operative Paul Begala was so enthusiastic about Romney's predicament that he said,"Bain will never go away. We will run Bain ads even after the election."

++Romney's interviews proved to be a disappointment . He basically doubled-down on his statement he left in 1999 and that he would not release any more tax materials and the public would have to deal with it. What came across was an air of noblesse oblige that someone that rich doesn't have to explain himself. Both CNN and ABC gave him a softball interviews as if they have to keep the horse-race narrative going.

++But this Sunday, the talk shows were not so kind to Romney. Ed Gillespie, now an adviser to Romney,said that "Romney had resigned retroactively from Bain" and he decided to liken Romney's refusal to only release two years of tax returns to John Kerry. Gillespie only dug the pit deeper--John Kerry released twenty years of tax returns before the 2004 election. Bill Kristol called on Romney to release his taxes tomorrow. George Will bemoaned Romney's obtuseness to the current economic climate that does not hold bankers and finance people in high regard and that Romney's failure to deal with this in a transparent manner just fuels this resentment. Even Mark Halperin, a reliable GOP standby, earlier had tweeted that Romney had a lot of explaining to do. Karl Rove gave the Obama campaign unsolicited advice not to suggest Romney is a "felon".

++I think the week found Romney seriously wounded. He has abandoned any defense of his term as governor and rested his whole case on his experience as a businessman. We have not even gotten to a discussion on foreign policy and he can't get out of the weeds. It was Obama's week by far and he commands the language of the debate as we move forward.