Friday, August 31, 2012

Final Call for Tonight

Nate Silver at Fivethiryeight.com has President Obama at 303.8 electoral votes and Romney at 234.2. Obama has a 72% chance of being re-elected. The popular vote count now is 50.8 for Obama to 48.0 for Romney. So after Labor Day, the fun begins in earnest.

Are You Better Off Today than Four Years Ago?

++That was the question Willard Romney asked and he said that the answer on this President was No , just as it was for Jimmy Carter.

++When Romney began his campaign during the primary, he cited the old Misery Index Reagan invoked about Jimmy Carter. As I wrote at that time, and it still holds true, if you combine unemployment with inflation, you have about an 8 or 9. If you had a full employment economy and about 3% inflation, you would have an 8. It doesn't make sense until you are in the teens, which we are not.

++The answer to Romney's question will be a personal one for millions of Americans. For me, I don't find the time as nerve-wracking as before. During the collapse of the economy, my credit cards increased their rate almost every month and payment times began to shrink so that one was basically paying banks every week. Remember I never missed a payment. That stopped with the Dodd-Frank bill. Now it's back to the monthly bill and the usual time frame I was used to since my 30s. When the economy collapsed, I lost over 60% of my net worth and my entire savings. That wasn't recovered but for people with 501-Ks including Mitt Romney their stock portfolios came back about 70%.

++There are other intangibles in answering that question. I got to refinance my house at bargain basement interest rates. The anxiety of going bankrupt for an illness is gone because of Obamacare. I got a free colonoscopy and my wife free preventive care because of changes in the health insurance system. I get to insure my son until he is almost 26. My son will graduate (knock on wood) debt free because Obama made applying for financial aid easier and more streamlined. 

++Then I enjoy a country where we recognize our pluralism and ethnic diversity. There are old issues I have always wanted resolved--the black farmers' lawsuit, the Indian Law Trust fund case, and the more  personal interest of having better music in the White House. I also liked having a President speak English and able to be eloquent, something Republicans seem to downplay and dismiss. 

++Also I enjoy not having a lot of fear-mongering. The previous Administration with its color coded terrorism ratings and the constant harping about this or that attack made everyone in the Beltway a nervous wreck and it served conveniently to strip away civil liberties--which unfortunately have not been restored.

++For the unemployed and the poor, as a country we haven't been kind or generous. I remember the woman in Pennsylvania when she was asked about Obama in 2008 and whether she hoped. She said that she was constantly losing ground and that she didn't dare hope because she had to manage with what she had left. But it is not President Obama that can be blamed for this, it is the Congress that was paralyzed by the most excessive use of the filibuster in our history and a House that treated the 39 times it repealed Obamacare as a jobs bill or the many times it outlawed abortion. 

++Whether President Obama wins re-election, history will look kindly on him. He restored a sense not only of hope but probably more importantly a sense of competence in governance.

The Good, the Bad and the Chair

++We close this month, wishing everyone a safe,enjoyable Labor Day weekend.

++the Romney campaign has given us more laughs than should be allowed. From the dancing horse through his historical defense of "Anglo-Saxon" values, his pledge to liberate Czechoslovakia, his global tour to Poland, Israel and the United Kingdom, his graciousness in telling the Brits they weren't ready to host the Olympics. The list goes on and now the memorable Andy Kaufman skit performed by Clint Eastwood, providing fodder for comedians through the next week. 

++Today in Louisiana ,Romney asked, "Did the water come from the sky, or the rivers, or the ocean?" A man who imitates the profundity of Chauncey Gardner of Being There.

++One wag quipped that at the RNC the only thing that didn't lie was the Chair.  Others thought Eastwood should star in "The Chair Whisperer". The gags continue on with Pee Wee Herman weighing in about his secret chair and others nominating Eastwood/Chair 2016 being the ideal ticket. 

++The news from the networks is not good about the ratings and viewers. They are down 31% from 2008 and Willard's speech drew about 12 million less than Sarah Palin's.

++We haven't seen any real polling from the last days of the RNC. The tracking polls conflict. Some speculate that the electorate is to as volatile as the past. Nate Silver wrote that the highest bounce from a convention was 25 points. He estimates about 4 points from this one but you have slight shifts in some polls to Obama. By the weekend, we should know whether the Romney bounce will make political science history as "the Medicine Ball" bounce. Sam Wang at Princeton's Consortium says that we all should give polls a rest for three weeks because the September data is baked and nothing meaningful will be registered until then.

++Democrats worried that Romney beat Obama to the punch by flying down to the Gulf Coast. But the President had already been on a conference call with all the affected Mayors and Governors of the Gulf. Harry Reid blasted Romney for his hypocrisy because his running-mate was against approving FEMA funds.

++President Obama celebrated the two year anniversary of the end of the Iraq War at Fort Bliss by saying "The United States is safer, the United States is stronger and the United States is more respected than before."

++Michael Steele asked David Axelrod ,"How many times are you Democrats going to mention George . Bush at your convention?" Answer, "As many times as you did at yours." Smackdown.

Afternoon Coffee

++Obama meets with Clint Eastwood on patio outside White House--shot of Obama next to an empty chair.

++Obama's birth certificate has been released--It's actually on display at the National Statuary Hall here in D.C. It has been since 2009.

++Runners' World could not verify Paul Ryan's claim having run a marathon under 3 hours.

++The Hologram of Reagan people joked about the RNC pulling out was not a hoax. It really existed.

++People were skeptical at the WSJ-NBC poll showing Romney getting 0% of the African-American vote. Black Entertainment Television conducted a poll that showed Romney at 5%. 

++Mel Martinez, a Cuban-American Republican, noting Latino disquiet with Romney's immigration positions said the campaign should be "pushing the panic button." 

++Much has been made that Romney needs to win over 61% of the white vote to win. As a bit of comparison, the tea baggers wins in 2010 provided Republicans with 62% of the white vote, the largest percentage for any single party since the 19th century. 

++While Mr. Staples backs Romney, Mr. Car Max has complimented Obama on his ability to assemble the talent to provide the auto bailout and being the first President to address the rising cost of medical care through the ACCA. He said he would hire Obama over Romney.

++Reuters has an article that Clint had hijacked the Republican Convention on Romney's Big Night. To give you some idea of this distraction to the Romney people Romney adviser Tara Hall had to spend time commenting on NBC that the empty chair represented Obama's presidency. 

++Probably few noted John Boehner's introduction to Cardinal Dolan. He said the church's preference for the poor did not mean large government programs. Dolan was criticized by Catholics for accepting to do the benediction. He will do the same at the Democratic Convention.

++In Colorado the Personhood Amendment failed to make the ballot . In the past it had been used as a 'wedge issue" to mobilize the Christian Right as it was in 2008.

America Is A Corporation,My Friend

++Please remember Willard is 65-years old so he can be forgiven for his slips after the night of his life. He called the United States a corporation today at the Florida pep rally. I guess he picked up on Clint Eastwood's statement,"We own this country."

++Clint Eastwood is trending big time on twitter while Romney isn't.

++Ann Romney ket her speech go to her head. She said today that "Now the ground-ups are coming to save America. " She also told the peasants that "we are used to passing up multi-million dollar jobs."

++Leonard Nimoy narrated a great bio of Romney on he John Stewart show, "Mitt--A Human Being Who Built That". 

++The Obama campaign released a devastating video  using "V" for Vendetta as a backdrop for the RNC and cut to Barack Obama's appearing at the 2008 Convention with the Star Wars theme covering the scrolling copy about President Obama.

++One Wag said that "The Chair didn't recognize Clint Eastwood."

++Others noted that Abe Simpson appeared on a cartoon paper with the headline, "Old Man Yells at Chair."

++The GOP Platform declared that Medicare was unconstitutional.

++Tom Stemberg of Staples  voiced concerned about "lactation chambers" in the new healthcare bill,which of course it is not. He claimed all his retail stores would be forced to install these for nursing women.
I guess that's better than "death panels".

++Supporters of the Dream Act heckled Romney today because he did not mention immigration in his speech.

++The Christian Science Monitor had a long piece basically panning the Romney speech and asked,"Can you trust him?"

++Intratrade, the Dublin based betting line, had the odds of Obama winning 56.8%, a slight jump from 55.7% after Romney's speech.

++David Koch, the owner of Paul Ryan, went off the reservation last night when he endorsed same-sex marriage, thought his own taxes should be raised and suggested cutting the defense budget.

++Vice President Joe Biden didn't miss a trick. He learned that GM would be adding shifts at Lordstown in Ohio and promptly campaigned there and took Paul Ryan to task for his statements about the Janesville plant in Wisconsin. He pointed to the number of jobs saved by the auto bailout and zinged Romney with his position and mentioned that all the jobs were in places like Lordstown, Dayton and Toledo and not China.

++Princeton Consortium surprised me today with a projection that the Democrats would take back the House by a slim margin claiming that the popular vote in the presidential means six seats for every percentage point. They also project Democrats will retain the Senate by a 50-51 seat margin.

++Gallup has Obama ahead 47-46 in their tracking poll, while their approval rating is an anemic 45%. 

More from the Star Cluster Kolob

++While watching Clint Eastwood lose the debate with the invisible Obama--now a popular hashtag, I wondered why the GOP which started so many wars since 2001 did not have any mention of our armed forces. Instead we saw the former U.S.Hockey team from the "Miracle on Ice"and memories of athletes who carried a flag from the Twin Towers.

++2.5 million American troops have gone to war since 9/11 and Romney never thanked them or mentioned them. Today at Fort Bless, President Obama commemorated the second anniversary of the end of the Iraq War. President Pretend went down to Louisiana at the invitation of Vishnu Jindal to tour the damage of Hurricane Isaac. 

++Romney talked about how inspired he was touring the United States and seeing the memorials of all those who died in battle. Irony? As far as can be researched, no one in his family ever served in the armed forces going back as far as the family was here in the United States. But he did mention his father had been a war refugee, fleeing the Mexican Revolution and receiving government assistance.

++Paul Ryan at a pep rally today sounded like Robin to Romney as Batman reiterating the talking points of Romney's experience, saying that was leadership. 

++David Axelrod said the RNC was "Open-mike tryouts for the 2016 nominee."

++Mitt Romney has a tough row to hoe since he would be the first nominee of the Mormon cult and the first nominee with massive offseas accounts to win the presidency.

++Mitt Romney laughed about rising oceans. Did he not think the Cayman Islands are at risk?

++Democratic bloggers have expressed concerns about the problem of winning again because of voter suppression,electronic voting machines made by Republicans like Diebold and partisan voting officials. The Tea Party vows to field a million-man voter protection unit to check black peoples' voting credentials. I hope they get arrested. But enough of the problems, the Eastwood skit made my day.

Four More Chairs! Four More Chairs! Four More Chairs!

Clint Eastwood is still tweeting strong.

"The RNC asked him to speak about Obamacare and he thought they said ObamaChair."

"He summed up the RNC Perfectly,"An old crotchety rich white man fighting against an imaginary black threat."

Bob Newhart even got into the act saying "Eastwood was trying to channel him and my lawyers and I are drafting our lawsuit."

Ralph, Get Off the Couch

++homage to a bit Doug Payne and I used to do.

++Was Clint Eastwood's act supposed to be how Andy Kaufman would do his performance comedy at that age?

++This morning's buzz was still about the empty chair. Have you said "Good morning, to your chair today?"

++Mark Halperin tried to say this morning that Clint was unscripted but Lawrence O'Donnell knew the Romney aide in charge and pointed out that the chair had to have put there.

++President Obama sent out a tweet with him in a chair marked President,"Sorry, it's taken."

++The name George W. Bush was absent the whole convention. Even Jeb who tried to defend him only referred to him as his brother.

++Did anyone think while you saw the countless people testifying to the charity and kindness of Willard whether he committed a kind act after he ran for the Senate in Massachusetts? It didn't seem like it.

++Is the threshold qualification for President having run a business? That's why Romney said last night and has said throughout the campaign. What about Ike,JFK,LBJ,Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon or failed candidates John McCain and Bob Dole?  The only businessmen I know off the top of my head are Hebert Hoover and George W. Bush. Not a lot to recommend there.

++Did anyone catch the short image in the bio pic of Romney the black maid in her uniform?

++I guess everything got too much for Steve Benen, who has documented Romney's lies for the past few years. Steve went straight last night in his analysis of the acceptance speech and said that Romney missed a golden opportunity to lead by dealing with the tough issues. Instead, Romney's bottom line was Obama hasn't done enough,I'll do more--Trust me.

++Paul Begala said "he couldn't generate enough wattage to power a refrigerator light." Begala touched on something I thought about. The speech by Rubio pushed Romney out of prime time mirroring the disaster of the McGovern late night acceptance speech in 1972.  It seems the GOP now run their conventions like they do their wars.

++Romney mentioned America 53times in his speech,Americans 35 times, Medicare once, never mentioned social security, welfare or entitlements,only 1 mention he was Governor and no mention of Iraq and Afghanistan. USA! USA!

++Nate Silver said he played in safe by trying to run as a generic Republican. Today, Nate has Obama's chances at 71.6%. If you take states where Obama's odds of winning are over 50%, he takes 26 states,including D.C. for 332 Electoral Votes. Yes, there has been a four point bounce in the Reuters/Ipsos poll but Obama at the stage of Romney's acceptance is in a far better place than when he ran against McCain.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This is Your Life--Clint Eastwod


David Axelrod said that all questions about Clint East wood's performance should go to Salvador Dali. Rachel Maddow was speechless. One tweet said ,"Clint called Obama said,"everything went as planned". Romney's aides grimaced during Clint's statement about how Obama failed to close Gitmo and hasn't ended the war in Afghanistan. He seemed to have gone to the wrong convention. Now conservatives are saying that you know Romney hit it out of the park when tomorrow's press will talk about Eastwood.

Chris Wallace was polite and said Romney's speech was workmanlike. Andrew Sullivan ,who earlier pointed out there had been more diversity on stage than among the delegates, wrote "The Speech: The Huge Lie". 

Maybe I'll get to the content of the speech tomorrow or maybe not it was so forgettable. For some reason, the Republican Convention needed to hear repeated references to 9/11, their greatest national security failure prior to Iraq, which went unmentioned. 

Curious for such a militaristic party that there were not people in uniform there.

I thought Willard's rhythm was off and he stepped on his applause line. He had this mincing walk on the way to the podium, which delayed his speech until he was actually heading to 11PM EST. I thought he rushed his delivery and then when he slowed it ,I thought he was building to something, which never came. He was condescending in tone, something he can't seem to break and still can't tell a joke written for him.

He promised 12 million jobs, which the CBO expects to be created anyway once we are out of the dumps. Remember I warned readers that this was the ticket for Republicans to seal the deal for the future. Both sides know the projections. 

He went on to talk about small businesses, which was a change from the 2008 convention which never talked about small business or the middle class. He promised he would not raise taxes on the middle class unlike Obama who actually has cut them. 

He used the Better off Now than Before question and rolled out Obama as Jimmy Carter. He blamed President Obama for shipping jobs to China, unlike say Bain Capital, repeated his lie about Medicare. You would think Romney was for the poor and seniors, while nothing is like that in reality.

He would restore America and talked about the great days he watched Neil Armstrong on the Moon and thought America was the greatest nation on earth. 

He also pledged to protect the sanctity of life by declaring a new Cold War on Putin and not apologizing like Obama sort of didn't do. Obama threw Israel under the bus, which runs against Israeli military experts' opinions. Romney said he would stand behind Poland on the Missile Defense System that was moved to the Czech republic but he won't tell you. And he said he would handle Iran. And we would once again have the greatest military on earth as if we need to spend more on defense.

The whole day was spent conducting a "This is Your Life" television show"  of a 65-year old man. Did we really need to hear about the Olympics? We don't even know what he did. 

The net effect was to try and mainstream Mormonism and to lay the groundwork for a theocratic authority. I would be like scientologists introducing their first candidate at a convention. 






Bain Annual Meeting Boring Convention

++The twitter traffic on the Tampa shindig is getting hilarious. One person twitted that if Romney took the floor at the minute spoke for five and let the balloons drop, he would think about voting for him. Another the dullest annual business meeting ever as Bain associates spoke about how wonderful Mitt was at Bain. Mr. Staples spoke but didn't talk about the government support they got in staying open or the destruction of the mom and pop stationary stores. This stuff is deadly and you wonder if the audience is tripping on how many awful business seminars they have been to.

++We have lived through Mitt's "church" service and the wonderful things he did for people. The effect was that of the evangelical television shows that roll out people to testify to someone's godliness. The White Horse prophecy lives.

++All of these testimonials, many from average people , are nice and heartfelt but no one is viewing this and it is unlikely I can even stay the course. While they are meant to humanize the man, it has created a claustrophobic atmosphere. Now we meld theocracy with plutocracy and the underlying theme is one of authoritarianism in a quiet guise.


Ryan Lyin'

++That was the quickest deconstruction of a political speech I have seen. By the time night fell,CNN remarked they were being flooded about the lies Paul Ryan told,almost every print and electronic media outlet debunked Ryan point by point. Even Ezra Klein, who doesn't like political combat from his wonk perspective, chose his words carefully saying basically great speech but all lies. FOX News had the predictable header saying "Dazzling" but then shocked everyone by saying it was deeply dishonest and another Fox contributor thought Paul Ryan was trying to set a record for lying. And finally the media has begun to actually say the GOP candidates are lying not just about Obama's record but also their own positions. 

++Ratings for last night's Convention fell dramatically. To gin up excitement about tonight's Romney speech,the special guest is 82-year old Clint Eastwood who was attacked by Karl Rove as being a tool of the "Chicago" gang who used their corporate supporters to cut his Superbowl ad for Chrysler . Clint is also for same sex marriage and choice. But the Convention does not make these distinctions when they need an audience for the nominee.

++So far commentators have criticized the GOP Convention for not having an affirmative message on the economy. One talking head referred to Mitt Romney as the "Tin Man candidate invaded by Archie Bunker." 

++Tonight is the night that Romney must soar. He just can't give an A speech, he has to show some spark that indicates he actually could be president. While the base loved Paul Ryan, his speech was shallow and didn't resonate even with the lies. Romney has to turn a phrase and he has to seem plausible both from a policy side and as a character.

++The draft of his speech spells out a five point plan for generating jobs. He also highlights small businesses which he claims Obama has stifled. He clams he will make America energy independent by 2020, which may actually be later than it will be. He will stress eliminating regulation. On not avoiding the tough issues, he promises to protect the poor, the weak and the seniors. There is no talk about what either his or Ryan's budget will do to those. He will try to bridge the gender gap by listing all the women who have influenced him and his support of all the Republican women and his choice of a female Lt.Governor when he was in Massachusetts. He will emphasize his risks--none--in creating Bain Capital and his pride in creating Staples, Sports Authority and another company involved in education. Nothing about leveraged buy-outs. 

++He will be speaking to "white Democrats" or those who he said have lost their enthusiasm for President Obama. Here he reverts to the language of Obama failed and didn't fulfill his promise to create jobs and the economy. Here is an old trick from the early days of the campaign when he would put on the graphic that showed the recession started under Obama even though the global collapse was at the end of the Bush administration. There is this amnesia that run through the whole Convention and maybe the whole nation. 
He also advocates ending Obamacare but as an unnecessary regulation on small business. He is trying to reach the swing voters who voted for Obama by laying out a framework how we all were hopeful--not mentioning that the GOP decided from Day One  to oppose anything Obama did. I don't know whether people will pick this up when he tries to make the case how basically Obama has let us down--except not me.

++This could either be delivered powerfully or just seem to be a word salad. The first could put him in real contention ,the second would just be another Ryan speech which will be mauled by the press. It will be interesting to hear. The text reminds me of the Compassionate Conservative promising a full employment economy. Every person who wants a job will get one. He claims. He will also keep using the whooper that Obama took the work requirement out of welfare. In fact Obama hasn't even granted the waivers yet.

++Nate the great Silver projects a four point bounce from the Tampa Convention for Romney, even though for the second straight day Gallup shows Obama picked up a point.

++The Obama campaign hit Ryan fast and hard after the speech pointing out the myriad lies. There is a sleeping time-bomb in the Ryan use of the closure of the Janesville GM plant in Wisconsin. The UAW president slammed Ryan over this since the union negotiated hard over stopping the closure of that plant. But in his statement was a side comment that if production picked up for the car company, there was a provision to put the plant back into operation. It would be wonderful if that happened during the campaign. The NPR report on the car industry, the reporters talked about the plants now reaching over capacity and that old ones will need to be opened.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ryan's Rising

++Of the 22 million television viewers to Tampa, 15 million are 55 or older,i.e. Romney's strong demographic.

++Lindsey Graham said, "We're not generating enough angry white guys stay in business for the long term." 

++Chris Matthews almost had a stroke when he realized that John McCain advocated two more wars and even talked about extending the war in Afghanistan. This provoked a long discussion whether in fact Romney was going to be prisoner of the neoconservatives in foreign policy. But I believe the marker was put down when Dan SeƱor was made spokesperson for Paul Ryan. Ryan would be like Dan Quayle absorbing the Bill Kristols and the like while these people would be sidelined while foreign policy would be taken over by the realists.

++Mike Huckabee usually a genial speaker was boorish and boring. A dude.

++Condi Rice was good when she dealt with overarching issues affecting our role in the world like getting our national house in order and the like but she lost me when she invoked 9-11 and said that was when she took her job seriously. She never mentioned President Obama by name but she used the term "lead from behind" as a criticism for his successes in foreign policy. 

++But the build up was for Paul Ryan. I have to confess Paul Ryan's speech sounded a lot like my Voice of Democracy speeches when I was a conservative teenager, using many of the same cliches. Ryan's speech was probably his highpoint in the campaign and he set up Romney for tomorrow perfectly. It was effectively delivered. 

++That said. Even CNN and Wolf Blitzer noted that there may have been eight different things that might have to be fact-checked. That is CNN-speak for lying. Paul Ryan is a very effective liar so he is dangerous. His budget is catastrophically dangerous. He lied about Obama and the Catfood Commission--Erskine-Bowles Commission, on which he sat and voted against every recommendation. He fudged like crazy on Obama's responsibility for the national debt, which he voted for two unfunded wars, Medicare Plan D, and the Bush Tax cuts (which are the primary drivers of our national debt). He cleverly got around whose responsibility the current economy's was. And he hid the fact he is a trust fund baby and his family's fortune was built on government grants for road-construction. He promised Romney and he would not avoid the tough questions but he has avoided the Medicare question--in fact running from it the moment he was selected. He said he wants that fight and is confident he would win it.

++There are two things from his speech that should become the centerpiece of the campaign debate: the promise by Romney-Ryan to create 12 million jobs over 4 years; and to reduce the federal spending to 20% of the GDP since we are at 23% today and many economists believe that is too low. Commentators should research when the US economy grew at such a fast pace of 12 million jobs in 4 years and its effect on inflation and the effects of a 20% cap on spending as it affects social programs and programs about education. His speech was very Randian and that may be why he did not say, "God, bless America"--his guru would never utter those words.

++The bottom line as we have seen by his performance in the House is a call for austerity. But of course that austerity does not call for cuts in military spending or taxes on the uber wealthy. In fact, the Washington Post has an editorial on Romney's tax plan, which not only increases the taxes on the middle class but also on the 100,000 to 200,000 range. Romney would end the home mortgage deduction and the one for charities. He would also end the estate tax completely. It is as if he took his whole Bain experience and applied it to the entire tax code so that he will die even richer.

++The theme of the GOP convention that wears very thin is that Wealth equals self-worth and authority. That has been the theme for the last two days, the sub-theme beneath we made it ourselves mantra.

How Has the Country Changed

++The Tampa fete claims that President Obama has changed the country and made it feel not as exceptional. There was only one mention of Iraq today and that was from Florida's Attorney General saying that "No one in Iraq died for affordable healthcare." But I'm certain some of their families are glad they did. Better than to die in vain.

++We don't have the phony terror alert codes that came about during the 2004 conventions. The gas seems to have gone out of the war like drumbeats of the past ghosts. Even though McCain revved up his calls for a no-fly zone in Syria and criticized Obama for his policy toward Iran, Richard Williamson, the Romney man, quickly informed the press these were not Romney's positions. Even Rand Paul got in his digs at McCain, who vowed to fight the defense cuts, by saying not all defense spending is worthwhile. There was a sense they wanted the United States to lead but knew that no one had the stomach anymore for war.

++The Bush video was an homage to old man Bush with his son chiming in. Both dutifully said Romney was a fine man. 

++This is a train wreck of a convention. It is clear from everyone's body language they aren't into their nominee and that don't have any ideas. Today, Chris Christie said he was interested in running in 2016, Rick Perry said he was interested and people like Senator Thune invoked his Norwegian parents as a narrative for the race. In fact, you could tell who was running by their invocation of their immigrant roots. Mitt Romney is already an afterthought. Yes, they have a burning hatred for President Obama but when Jan Brewer slips and says she hopes Obama is re-elected you know things are funky. 

++Tonight we are to segue from the small theme of We built this all our own to restoring America. God knows what tomorrow's theme will be. 

++It's pretty obvious the GOP doesn't have a lot to argue against President Obama. It is all emotive. The whole campaign is now just lies targeting most groups. But when you come down to it the major beef is that the Black Man didn't clean up the white boys' mess fast enough. Maybe lightning will strike. But ,boy, this has been a dull and dreadful affair. 

++I finally got to see Ann Romney's speech. What a godawful voice and almost Stepford Wife presence. I know it is very hard to give such a speech but the enthusiasm from the audience was just to cheer her on. I did not get any keen sense of Mitt Romney from it. In fact, I was turned off by the tone. Yet, Ann Romney's speech so far was the only one truly in favor of the man. He has been kicked to the curb so far.

++Tomorrow I will see if Paul Ryan turned a dying affair around.

The Clown Car of Darkness

++There really was discussion today about Ronald Reagan appearing as a hologram at the RNC Convention.

++Lindsey Graham and John McCain appear ready to introduce a bill in the Senate supporting Israeli's attack on Iran if it should happen.

++President Obama has caved to the Freedom of Information Act and vows to release his beer recipe.

++The President held an Ask Me Anything Reddit town hall meeting and people literally asked them a lot, particularly on medical marijuana and the Space program as well as who takes care of Bo on a daily basis. It is very hard to believe Willard Romney could replicate the same event with such fluency.

++Paul Ryan's brother told the media his brother is a career politician. Tonight Ryan will talk about his immigrant roots. This must be the new thing for trust fund kids. Ann Romney told Hispanics today she understands being an immigrant since her family came from Wales. 

++The major media has finally caught up with Steve Benen's two year campaign of documenting Romney's amazing ability to lie. Ron Fournier of AP came out today and wrote about the chronic lying in the campaign. This should make it OK for others to focus on this phenomenon. 

++It has been overwhelming the first two days of the convention. Even Republican governors are stepping up to refute the lie about welfare. But this goes to playing the Race Card by the Romney campaign and journalists finally getting people to go on the record that the target is blue-collar whites who resent their current condition and the resentment must be turned against Democrats and especially Obama. 

++Mark Halperin who is a GOP supporter commented on the calm among the Obama campaign top brass. It is not simply the No Drama Obama approach but something deeper. He says that the Obama campaign exudes confidence and is convinced the President will win barring some unforeseen disaster. Other commentators on Halperin's observation claim the Obama campaign is well aware that the polling numbers that the public see do not reflect cellphone respondents and they favor Obama by wide margins. I don 't know. Nate Silver reflects today on the gap in polls which show Romney's advantages when we go from registered to likely voter and that spread seems unusual.

++Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone guts Romney's Bain days showing how federal bailouts kept him afloat and that Romney does have a special genius--creating massive debt as witnessed the number of companies he forced into bankruptcy because of the Bain strategy of making corporations assume massive debt they could never pay off.

++Meanwhile, home ownership is now at a 50 year low after the Bush "ownership" society or "we will own you society".

++Internet commentators laugh at the total viewers of the convention so far as being 20 million with FOX accounting for 6-7 million of those. The final episode of American Idol draws 20-25 million and the Super Bowl attracts 100 million. Personally,I don't think the Conventions are that much of a draw anyway.

++We will see Paul Ryan tonight. The USA Today/ Gallup poll has 38% think of him favorably and 36% of them unfavorably. 58% were found in another poll to have no opinion of him. Reuters/Ipsos have a 50/50 split.

++Willard's sister says that her brother will not outlaw abortion and that he is more "moderate" than that. How about equal pay for equal work.

++Obama's presence at the University of Virginia recalled the huge rallies in 2008. There is something about seeing how the President responds to crowds and how their support for him. Think back to the last administration where a President could not go near a college campus. These rallies also generate enormous local media, which is helping Obama undercut the Republican Convention. Now I know what Karl Rove meant when he recommended the President take a few days off.

++Condi Rice is to speak tonight and earlier today she was asked about any failures of Obama's foreign policy but she could not come up with any. But tonight she and John McCain are supposed to take Obama on.

++The video of the Ron Paul delegates walking out of the convention was effective. The leader of the Maine delegation explained how he had been elected by citizens in Maine and that the Romney people removed him and three veterans of the Afghanistan war. A woman Paulite said this type of thing would affect the election. Somehow I believe her, about Maine.

++The best rumor of the Special Speaker was that it wasn't Clint Eastwood but Rush Limbaugh, which would make perfect sense for this convention.

++The Romney people must be disappointed by the first full day because Chris Christie didn't get around to mentioning Romney until late in his speech. He said that Republicans wanted respect, not love, contradicting Ann Romney's address about love. Fecal Matter Santorum barely praised Romney. So it wash;t clear what theme was struck other than everyone made it themselves. It was pretty weak fare.

++Conservatives are salivating at a Ryan-Biden debate. For them that is worth the price of admission. Tonight we will see whether Ryan can project large since he is only used to speaking in the House and in a small constituency. 

An Event Horizon of Utter B.S.

++The title refers to Charles Pierce's essay on the Tampa Convention on the Esquire blog site. Pierce went ape of what he perceived as a night of lies, evasions and other mendacity. He blasted the speakers for rejecting "the idea of a genera political commonwealth as expressed through the national government."

++Meanwhile Mitt Romney's donors were being honored today on board a 150-ft yacht named Cracker Bay which was flying the flag of the Cayman Islands. Pretty brazen.

++Ann Romney told Hispanics that had to overcome their prejudice against her husband. I guess they remember when he underpaid them for mowing his lawn.

++Speaking of lawns, 82-year old Clint Eastwood is supposed to be the "special surprise guest speaker".

++Willard has lost support during the Convention so far as Gallup has propelled into a 47-46 lead.

++PPP has Obama with his smallest lead yet in Nevada 50-47.

++PPP has Obama up 53 to 40 in Connecticut.

++Rutgers has Obama up 51 to 37 in New Jersey.

++Last night Chris Christie bragged about how his father made it by himself. He came back from the war and worked at the Breyer's Ice Cream factory--good ice cream--, received the non-governmental G.I bill and then graduated from Rutgers, the non-state school, to become the first in his family to graduate college. He seemed to have received some help there.

++A federal judge has slapped down Governor Scott of Florida's draconian restrictions on third party groups registering voters. That is potentially good news for Democrats and free-thinking Americans.

++Meanwhile the Energizer President was out at Fort Collins in Colorado yesterday speaking before a crowd of 13,000 and then showed up today in Charlottesville, Virginia to another huge crowd. I guess people don't find him as menacing as the Tampa crowd.

++The Puerto Rican press have something to write about in Tampa. Last night as the Ron Paul crowd was acting out, the committeewoman from the Puerto Rican delegation was trying to speak and then the audience started chanting U.S.A!, U.S.A! I remember when the GOP courted Puerto Rico and promised it statehood. Guess not now.

Morning Coffee--Burundi

++I know The GOP Convention speaks about the oppressive taxes restraining economic growth. But let's check the fact that an eleven year average--Bush and Obama administrations--show federal revenues are 16.9% GDP, the lowest since 1959. Most recently, its is more like 15.8% of GDP, the lowest level since 1950. On the other hand, federal spending is 23-24% of GDP, or about the same as during Ronald Reagan.

++Missing from the television coverage last night was the roll-call of the delegates, which was deliberately put off prime time. The reason was fear that one might see dissent. I miss roll-calls because I enjoy each state extolling their virtues and what if there are other votes. By the time you wrap up the roll-call, there is a voice vote for the nominee by acclamation. What you do not see is any democratic process. This also applies to the Platform. In this case the GOP platform is the most right-wing in my lifetime and I lived through the 1964 Goldwater campaign. A point about the Platform was that it was approved and written with the guidance of the Romney campaign.

++Ann Romney had to speak and try and "humanize" Willard because the Washington Post/ABC poll showed Willard only had a 31% favorable rating. That is a disaster. So how did she do? After her speech, CNN had an informal poll that showed 42% were less likely to vote for him; 29% the same; and 29% more likely to vote for him.  

++While Ann Romney was a plus for Willard, she told some tall ones like he risked going into business--no he was guaranteed a substantial income when he was asked to take over Bain and if he had failed, he was guaranteed his old job back and significant compensation. The problem for Romney is the issue of authenticity and you just can't buy that.

++The Romney people are downplaying Willard's unfavorability as a factor in this election because they say the American people just want someone to manage the economy. But think about it. We have to listen to this guy for four years. We have to see his children. And we have to be able to trust his judgment. That's why the like ability factor is not as trite as the Romney people claim. Even 33% of Republicans found Obama more likable.

++What we missed was the raucous rebellion of the supporters of Ron Paul. This may seem irrelevant to the election but the followers of Ron Paul are absolutely livid by the heavy-handed rules change that allowed the nominee to replace unfriendly delegates. While some internet media outlets captured their anger,their own libertarian websites are in open revolt against the Republicans. They are urging people either not to vote or to vote libertarian. Oh well, but outside observers miss the Paulites organizational ability and their appeal to younger voters. The GOP just deprived themselves of a grass-roots organizing tool.

++Democrats are steeling themselves for the GOP bounce after the convention. The real fear of voter suppression and being outspent by aging billionaires have everyone on edge. So let's put things in perspective. After John McCain gave his acceptance speech,polls had him leading Obama 274-243. The Sky was falling. President Obama today is in a better position than he was in 2008.

++Nate Silver at www.fivethiryeight.com says the polls have stabilized and that Obama is 1.6% in the lead. In polls conducted before last night, Obama led in 8 and Romney in 2. Romney only led those by 1 pt. 

++So as of last night, what did the electoral college look like:
Election Projection: Obama 303, Romney 235
Nate Silver:  Obama 298.1 to Romney 239.9
FHO:            Obama 332    to Romney 206
Princeton:     Obama 303   to Romney 235
RealClear Politics: Obama 221 to Romney 181 and 136 toss-up states.

++Watch for Voter suppression efforts in Ohio and Florida. These are must states for Romney and the Republican governors are committed to delivering the state for him. Yesterday, the Republican head of the election commission fired the Democrat in an urban county because he was going to continue early voting, which is used predominantly by African Americans in his district. In Florida,Gov. Scott continues his feud with the local electoral boards. 

++I didn't think Chris Christie did much for his political future last night. He looked like a beached whale and someone about to have a coronary. His divide and conquer rhetoric and his bombastic tone does not carry well.

++Most people missed Nikki Haley of South Carolina but if you heard her she attacked labor unions. While we are used to Republican attacks on labor unions, it is usually muted at a convention because Republicans used to depend on cops, firefighters,teamsters and even some teachers. I guess the accent on voting white is supposed to make up for this.

++When I was out in Ohio, the Romney campaign attacked President Obama in coal country. Point of fact--the coal industry has added 15,000 jobs under Obama's watch. But the visual was of Romney speaking before coalminers and their families, accenting Obama's problem in Appalachia. Yesterday, the coalminers went public and complained that they were compelled to attend the rally and even forced to contribute to the Romney campaign by the mine owners. I think this heavy-handedness will tip Ohio even more to Obama.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

While you are watching the Convention..

++Sorry, you can listen to the lies and the dog whistles all you want. I would be like the Maine delegation and leave and boycott the event. Before the Tan Man did his Dean Martin imitation and imitated the Rat Pack by saying if President Obama walked in a bar they would throw him out, the delegates for Ron Paul tried to protest the rule changes which were outrageous. John Sununu said President Obama never ran a lemonade stand. A delegate threw peanuts at a  African-American camerawoman for CNN and said,"That's how we feed animals". 

++We were treated to videos of white people saying they made it by themselves even though it soon came out on the internet that they all had government contracts. 

++The Romney campaign again backpedalled today saying Willard would moderate his immigration policy while the Platform still urges self-deportation. Jan Brewer charged that President Obama was playing the "Race Card" in this election--wink, wink. 

++John Kasich said he was the one who started the recovery in Ohio. Today on NPR there was a show on the Lordstown Chevy Plant that is now working at full capacity because of the auto bailout. The recovery in Ohio and the Midwest is almost exclusively attributed to President Obama.

++The best thing to happen to the RNC Convention so far is Isaac, which allowed the best journalists to have something to cover. 

++This time you have been warned. The Platform calls for a Supermajority to pass any tax increases; a balanced budget amendment, one of the most ridiculous economic ideas in history; a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions without exception;the maintenance of the Bush tax cuts; the gutting of the ERA; cuts in corporate taxes and those who invest;self deportation of undocumented immigrants; radical changes in Medicare and Medicaid;and of course the enhancement of gun ownership.  This is a platform for the Last Looting of America and the abolition of the middle class. But this time you can not pretend.

++Regional television covered President Obama's tour to Ames, Iowa and later to Fort Collins, where he tried to drum up student support to vote. This gained more coverage than the zoo in Tampa. 

++More on the Race Card, the Romney team expects white turnout to be 74% of the electorate and plans on winning 61% of it. A pretty tough challenge.

++CNN reports that 30% of Republicans wanted someone else as their nominee.

++British betting odds : Obama 2/5, Romney 15/8.

++PPP had a poll on Iowa out that shows Obama ahead 47 to 45 and more interesting leading among Iowans who are interested in wind power by 47-37. The closeness of the poll is attributed to the rise since 2008 of Iowans who have registered as Republicans.

++Karl Rove said today that Romney is betting on winning over Democrats.

++So how is that looking. PPP/Daily Kos poll has  Obama at 50 and Romney at 44. Hispanics favor Obama by 59 to 32. African-Americans 80 to 19, and Romney wins the whites by 50 to 44. Romney wins the over 65 by 50 to 44. Obama's favorability is 51% and his approval is at 48%.  Romney has an unfavorable of 52%. 

++In 2008, there were 9.7 more million women who voted than men and observers expect the number to rise this year. 

++Ipsos-Reuters of likely voters Obama beats Romney 46 to 42.  People think Obama is a good person --47% and only 29% of Romney; a fun person 48% to Romney's 21%. 

And at the end of today's events, President Obama is still black and maybe that was why he didn't run a lemonade stand. 

Electoral Vote August 30

++Nate Silver dissed the two Michigan polls for methodological reasons. He still has Obama 299 and Romney 239.

++Electoral Vote has Obama at 326 and Romney 212. The GOP pick-ups are Indiana, Iowa and North Carolina. They have Obama winning Florida. Romney's people claimed this morning they could win the election without Florida. I don't see how. Romney needs both Florida and Ohio. Obama doesn't.

The concern with Electoral vote is that their Senate predictions are now 50 Republicans-47 Democrats and 3 tied. This is a change from a couple of weeks ago. Mitch McConnell claims the GOP can take the Senate without winning Missouri.

++Sam Wang at Princeton Consortium has the race 303 Obama and Romney 235.

In Search of the Great White Whale

++The Romney campaign has said that this will be the last Republican contest that can play the race card successfully--in other words of course. But the GOP is between a rock and a hard place since their primaries basically attacked Hispanics, African-Americans, women, gays and this last week native Americans. (The last was an RNC member criticizing New Mexico's Gov. Martinez, a Republican, for meeting with a delegation of Indian leaders in a state with a large native american population. Her meeting was an insult to the memory of "General Custer", whom I don't remember exactly being fondly remembered by either whites or native Americans.)

++The number crunchers at the Romney campaign has determined that for Romney to win he needs 61% of the white vote. That's why the little dance number the last two days to close the gender gap and the tripling down on the welfare ads. The Romney campaign knows his core constituency is the over 60 white male and he has been forced to do damage control on the issue of Medicare with such events as Paul Ryan showing up at a Florida retirement village with his mother who is on Medicare.

++If you wonder why Republicans have embraced Bill Clinton in this campaign--something that has puzzled me--it is because they are chasing the Bubba vote. They remember if you don't that George Wallace did very well in states like Michigan by stoking the racial resentment of the white working class. Whether this works in the 21st century remains a puzzle.

++To get 61% of the white vote, Romney will have to match the numbers of Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon's 1972 numbers in a country with a more white-friendly demographic. 

++On the other hand, it should be remembered that Democrats have not won the majority of whites in a long time. John Kerry in his 2004 run only snagged about 44%. I believe it was LBJ that was the last Democrat to win a majority of white voters.

++In her coverage of the convention, Rachel Maddow got this Romney strategy down perfectly. The GOP is facing the demographic winter unless it can appeal to the Hispanic vote, which this party can not with its immigration planks.

++The GOP also has a very serious problem with women voters since the last two years have shown in upsurge in attacks on everything from Planned Parenthood, contraceptives, reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work. With a candidate who was a bishop of a very patriarchical religion, this gap is not going to close soon, despite his statements in the last two days. 

++For those interested in the breakdown of welfare, it goes like this--Temporary Assistance, which welfare goes by, is 31.8% white, 31.9% African-American, and 30% Hispanic. The breakdown for Medicaid is much more deceptive because this program also pays for retirement homes for the elderly and children.

++What we will see in the next few days will be a veneer of diversity with women governors,a few Hispanics and an African-American Mormon appearing. But the hall is lilly white.

If You are Thinking of Dying Soon

++Andrew Sullivan highlighted the new book by the late Christopher Hitchens that chronicled his last days with cancer. Although the pub date was a few days off, I went out and got it at Barnes and Noble. "Mortality" appeared in large swatches in Vanity Fair drink the period of Hitchens illness. At the time, the public issue was whether Hitchens would make a deathbed confession and assert a newfound faith in God--something he never did and warned friends not to believe it if someone said it happened.

++Hitchens was on a book tour for his memoir Hitch-22 when he was stricken with what he thought was a heart attack on June 8,2010 only to be told it was cancer. He wrote he suddenly found himself being deported " from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over 18 months before his death on December 15,2011, he wrote constantly about all matters of politics and culture. 

++Hitchens didn't flinch in describing the ordeal of esophageal cancer, its torments and its impact of how he not only related to others but his own body. He talks about how the late Sidney Hook, another atheist struggled with his own illness and wanted the end to come because of the draining effect of new medical innovations that prolonged his life. Hitchens didn't quite feel the same way as he sought various experimental therapies and was attracted to the innovations of gene therapy. None of them would be developed in time for use in Hitchens' case. But his struggle also demonstrated his ceaseless curiosity and his keen interest in forms of human progress.

++This small (104 page) book published by 12 ($22.99--cheaper on Amazon) is a fitting last testimony by a prolific author.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Polls and the Convention

++538 (Nate Silver), Princeton Consortium (Sam Wang) and Electoral Vote.com remain fairly stable with Obama leading from 299 with Nate Silver to 300s with the others. Enthusiasm for both parties is about the same without the lags we saw in 2010. Obama had good news with ABC,CNN and Rasmussen all putting his approval rating at 50%. This election has one of the fewest number of undecideds of any election. 

++The Wall Street Journal tried to explain the strategy behind Romney's playing the race card with the welfare reform ads saying that the Romney campaign had failed until recently to get any traction among swing voters. Played strategically this helps him with lower middle-class voters and serves to excite his base. The ad reminds people that President Obama is an elitist who believes that government should work for the people and he is a member of a minority, which is associated with welfare. The Romney campaign claims this is working. 

++Gallup has found that Obama is now 9 up on Romney concerning taxes and healthcare. This means he erased the gap of the previous month on the issues.

++Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Dish found out that Rev. Warren misled in his reasons for canceling the Saddleback venue. The Obama campaign was not that interested in it and Romney's campaign never agreed to it.

++Polls show a craziness right now as several local polls with little track record are surfacing showing different results--Romney in the lead in Michigan and a tie in Ohio, the latter turns out to be a mail in poll, which has an off and on record. In the CNN survey of Florida ,one statistic should bother the Romney campaign, the very slight lead he has in the over 50 crowd, which shows the Medicare issue is not going his way. One wonders what the result will be on the Medicare plank of the platform being released.

++The Romney campaign expects a bounce from the convention to take the lead. But how much of a bounce can it be when the Democrats open their convention only a few days after his acceptance speech.

++SURVEY USA has North Carolina tied up and CNN has made it a toss-up state. 

++Florida continues to try and suppress voting in the counties where Obama won in 2008. These counties are called "civil rights" counties and full under the Voting Act. A lonely Republican is trying to defy Governor Scott on his attempt to curtail early voting hours.

++The delegates for Ron Paul have not calmed down. They are even more enraged that a Presidential candidate (Romney) can veto and replace delegates who oppose him. A Paul delegate spoke at a meeting just north of Tampa and received a standing ovation from the Texas delegation. Apparently, they will try and fight this on the floor--but not at a time anyone can see.

++Andrew Sullivan wrote today that Obama got the election he wanted--a choice and he also said Obama had the advantages on all issues but the deficit and debt, which even Sullivan couldn't believe people could believe Romney. He suggested Obama do something bold like embrace Simpson-Bowles, the Catfood Commission. I don't know about that but he has good advice that President Obama must make himself the positive choice.

++Willard fine-tuned his stance on abortion again tonight saying that abortion was OK if the mother's health was endangered. How long can they dance around this issue?

++A Mormon Bishop will start the prayers for the Convention, an evangelical will also participate and a Roman Catholic archbishop will close the show. 

Late Afternoon Coffee at the Last Manatee

++Howard Fineman actually caught the focus of these strange Welfare ads by Romney--working class women. Apparently these ads have been tested and they influence women of this class to feel racial resentment. If you have a gender chasm, maybe this is the route you take.

++Willard Romney has been asked for his birth certificate by a Boston reporter because she thought like I do that his middle name is Milton. 

++The leaked GOP platform criticizes the Obama foreign policy for supporting "legalized abortion" and the "radical homosexual agenda". The platform plank was undoubtedly inserted by the Christian Right who have been campaigning in Africa for more anti-gay laws.

++Willard Romney said that he wanted to appoint to his cabinet women like Meg Whitman, failed Senate candidate and HP CEO. Meg shares Willard's love of overseas bank accounts. But she said today she is not available.

++An AP/Gf poll shows that 53% of Americans support a tax increase to shore up Social Security's solvency. 

++The National Review today published an op-ed that urges investors to drive the stock market down so that Romney could get elected.

++Willard said today that the abortion issue has been settled by the courts for sometime but he didn't comment on the GOP platform.

++The Obama Campaign said today that the election is down to Florida, Virginia and Ohio.

++Pew has a new poll on American attitudes' toward the rich. 71% believe Romney's policies favor the rich. 63% say that the GOP favors the rich. 60% say that President Obama's policies favor the poor. 35% say the Democrats favor the middle class,32% say the poor and 20% say the rich. 55% think the rich are greedy,34% say less honest, 43% say intelligent, 42% say hardworking.

++Tampa has the highest homeless rate of any city in the United States.

++Rush Limbaugh claims President Obama manipulated weather forecasts so the GOP would have to cancel their convention. Rep. Issa said that he would mind if New Orleans was hit by Isaac if that means the GOP win in November.

++100s of cops and helicopters overhead made Tampa look like a city under siege because workers came to protest Bain's policies of bankrupting their companies.