Saturday, November 03, 2012

Chris Christie: The running mate who wasn't

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sorry, Chris, you're a bit too loud, and a bit too obnoxious, and a bit too much of a loose cannon, and not enough of an ideologue to placate hardcore conservatives...

Politico is reporting today that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was Romney's top choice to be his running mate. This according to "campaign insiders":

Romney switched from Christie to Ryan in a span of about two weeks, according to a detailed inside account provided to POLITICO.

Romney was so close to picking Christie that some top advisers at the campaign's Boston headquarters believed the governor had been offered the job. The campaign made tentative plans to announce a pick in late July, just before Romney headed off on his overseas trip, starting with a stop at the London Olympics.

"Mitt liked him because he saw him as a street fighter," a Romney official said. "It's the kind of political mentality that Romney doesn't have, but admires. He wanted someone who could play the Chicago game [like Obama headquarters] on its own terms."

In fact, Christie was never the final choice. Romney hit "pause" on the possibility shortly before his trip to the Olympics. Then he settled on Ryan the day after returning. Romney formally offered him the job within a week, leaving Christie hanging until shortly before the official announcement a week later.

This isn't surprising at all. Richard and I both thought a) it would be Christie, and b) that Christie was the best pick for Romney (from Romney's perspective -- we obviously would have preferred it if he'd gone with, say, Donald Trump). Consider the title of a post Richard wrote back in June:

"'Husky and Starch': The best GOP ticket and Obama's worst nightmare"

Here was the thinking:

In a sense, it would be both a game changer and a safe call.

We reasoned that Romney should make the announcement the usual time, about a week before the convention. By then the polls will have been so close for so long that conservatives everywhere will be salivating at the thought of beating Obama, so they won't make trouble about the fact that Christie is another Northeastern governor who isn't perfect from a radical right-wing perspective. The base will stay in line and swing voters, particularly white middle-aged guys, will love the choice.

In many ways, Christie is everything Romney is not. He comes across as genuine, a natural performer. He's combative as hell and would be able to do what Romney will never be able to do: act tough. Conservatives want that more than anything.

I'm no great fan of Christie myself, but I do think he would be a formidable running mate and would make things close.

And then the title of a post I wrote in August, just before the pick was announced:

"Romney Veepstakes 2012: Why he will, or at least should, pick Chris Christie as his running mate"

My reasoning:
Yes, he's been out of the national spotlight recently, but that just means his re-emergence would be all the more dramatic. (And you know this whole Veepstakes thing is calculated for effect.) And he and Romney genuinely seem to like each other. They're very different, but they seem to have some sort of yin and yang thing going, Romney the privileged rich douchebag, Christie the aggressive, fast-talking bully who does the douchebag's dirty work.

Christie isn't necessarily a right-wing ideologue of the kind desired by conservatives, but he's a fighter who would take the fight directly to President Obama. Conservatives would love that. It would fulfill, at least during the heat of the campaign, their wild fantasies about this anti-American foreign interloper being taken down by force, being given the drubbing/lynching he deserves.

There wouldn't any yawn.

Picture Romney walking out on stage with Christie. Think of Christie's forceful personality. Think of his aggressive speech. Think of Romney standing there like a doofus with an ear-to-ear grin. Think of Republicans everywhere wetting themselves.

Makes perfect sense, no?

It did. As our contributor tmcbpatriot also wrote at the time: "I'm going with Christie still. He was the golden boy early on. Everybody wanted him and now there is less than three months to vet him publicly. He is crass and has no respect for anyone, much less his own body. Republicans love that sort of thing and he balances out Romney's elite factor with his New Jersey trash talk and attitude. Plus, Christie appeals to the moron independents. Ryan is too extreme for them. Honestly, nobody can reach the independents except Christie."

So why wasn't it Christie? Early reports said it was because he refused to step down as governor (and because, in a related matter, this would have blocked large donations from the financial sector to the Romney campaign).

But now we're getting different reasons. From the Politico piece:

--"Some aides around Romney began to sour on Christie when he was late to a couple of events where they were appearing together... The tardiness rankled the by-the-book folks around Romney."

-- "Some Romney loyalists thought he was too much about himself."

-- "Advisers also fretted about the raw emotion that makes Christie so popular on TV and on the trail, fearing it might be a liability in the West Wing."

Apparently "Romney was willing to overlook those reservations," but then "the intense back-and-forth suddenly halted." And then Paul Ryan was picked.

It may well be that Christie said no to stepping down in Trenton, and that would make sense. He must have reasoned that Romney was facing an uphill battle and that victory was a longshot. And Christie is nothing if not devoted to New Jersey. Why give up the top job there to be Romney's sidekick in what could be a losing effort? Even with his sights set on running himself down the road, perhaps in 2016 should Romney lose, what good would it be to him to be out of office for any such run?

As for these new reasons, they seem like complete bullshit to me, though it's certainly true that Christie isn't the sort of person you can easily picture as a #2.

No, I suspect the real reason is that Romney needed to win over conservatives who by that point in the campaign were publicly expressing some serious misgivings about his credentials and demanding that he put a hardcore conservative on the ticket. Names like Marco Rubio were being pushed, but it was Ryan who was the right's dream pick. Here's more from my post from August:

"Romney Faces Pressure From Right to Put Ryan on Ticket," says the Times.

"Why not Paul Ryan?" asks the Journal...
Ezra Klein asks why conservatives want Ryan. And looks at why Romney may want him as well -- to take a necessary risk, to run on "big ideas," to pander to the right (as usual), and "to diffuse the blame if he loses.
The fact is, with criticism and doubt coming from the Journal and National Review and The Weekly Standard and all throughout the conservative ranks of the Republican Party, Romney needed to give them what they wanted so that they'd be fully behind him the rest of the way. And Christie, with his pragmatism and iconoclasm, just didn't fit the bill. Conservatives like Bill Kristol wanted an ideologue, one of their own kind -- and that meant Paul Ryan above all others.
In other words, at perhaps the most critical moment of the campaign (with the possible exception of the first debate), Romney caved in to the right and embraced the extremist ideology that has come to define the conservative movement and pretty much the entirety of the congressional wing of the GOP. Of course he pivoted away from that extremism, at least rhetorically, at that first debate and has since tried to offer himself as the "Moderate Mitt" of old, but that may turn out to have been too little far too late.
Consider how the whole shape of the campaign might have been different had he gone with Christie in August and campaigned from then on as an independent-friendly pragmatist. Would he really have lost the right? Hardly. They would have protested a bit, but they would have embraced Christie eventually, not least because what so many conservatives like about the governor is his bullying pugnacity, which would have been on display right away, but also because an earlier shift to the center, with Christie on board, might have meant a rise in the polls long before the first debate -- and conservatives, no doubt, would have put aside their reservations to back such apparent success.
Instead it was Ryan, who has been an embarrassment on the campaign trail, rallying the right but also looking utterly unprepared for national office -- consider his deer-in-headlights performance in the VP debate against Biden, as well as his continual refusal to answer questions about his budget plan. I just can't see Christie doing any worse, and indeed I suspect that Christie would have been much better in the debate, showing an understanding of the issues and not just reading his talking points. In addition, where Ryan has been a drag on Romney, as well as a reminder that the Republican Party is indeed an extremist right-wing party, Christie would have allowed Romney more credibly to swing to the center to appeal to independents and undecideds in swing states. Romney and Christie could have campaigned together in earnest, offering a credible alternative to voters, particularly during these final days in Ohio, Florida, and other key states. Instead, Ryan has been a drag on Romney, pulling him back to the right whether he likes it or not.
But back to the Politico report: why now? Hard to say.
Obviously, Hurricane Sandy would have left its mark regardless. And it would have been interesting to see how Christie as Romney's running mate would have dealt with the situation back in New Jersey, assuming he hadn't resigned. Would he have left the campaign trail to tend to more pressing relief and recovery matters? Would he have embraced President Obama the way he has in the storm's aftermath?
Regardless, it does seem as if some in the Romney campaign, anticipating a loss on Tuesday, are already playing the blame game and looking ahead. There will be a lot of blame to go around should Romney lose, and conservatives will no doubt blame Romney for being insuffiently conservative, and for being the wrong nominee and a bad candidate, but perhaps some on the inside are hoping to pin some of the blame on Ryan personally, or on others on the inside for pushing Ryan ahead of Christie, suggesting that if it had been Christie, who is rather popular at the moment, all along, Romney would be on his way to victory. (Or perhaps BooMan's right that "the Romney folks wanted a Politico piece that explained why Gov. Christie wasn't chosen as Romney's running mate" but ended up with a piece that "makes Paul Ryan sound like a reluctant choice.")
It's all just speculation, but it does seem to me that Romney would be in much better shape today had he gone with Christie.
"Husky and Starch": The best GOP ticket and Obama's worst nightmare -- it was just not to be.

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President Obama: Betting on America

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans are betting on cynicism, on the discredited policies of the past, on division and strife, on the 1% at the expense of everyone else.

In stark contrast, President Obama is looking forward:

My bet is on hope. My bet is on the decency and goodness of the American people and my fight is for you.

It's a bet on Ohio, on Florida, on Virginia, on each and every state and each and every American. It's a winning bet.

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David Brooks is disappointed

By Mustang Bobby

David Brooks bows to the inevitable and says that Barack Obama hasn't been all that bad as a president:

In office, he has generally behaved with integrity and in a way befitting a man with his admirable character. Sure, he has sometimes stooped to the cynical maneuver. Contemptuous of his opponents, he has given himself permission to do the nasty and negative thing. But politics is a rough business and nobody comes out unsullied.

In moral terms, he hasn't let us down. If he's re-elected, his administration would probably remain scandal-free. Given the history of second terms, that is no small thing.

Moreover, Obama has been a prudent leader. He's made no rash or disastrous decisions. He's never acted out of some impetuous passion. His policies toward, say, China, Europe and Iran have had a sense of sober balance. If re-elected, he would probably commit no major blunders, which also is no small thing.

But he's disappointed that Mr. Obama didn't live up to the inspiring words of his inauguration, and then he gets around to his concern trolling, which you knew was coming all along:

If Obama had governed in a way truer to his inauguration, he would have used this winter of recuperation to address the country's structural weaknesses. He would have said: Look, we're not going to have booming growth soon, but we will use this period to lay the groundwork for a generation of prosperity — with plans to reform the tax code, get our long-term entitlement burdens under control, get our political system working, shift government resources from the affluent elderly to struggling young families and future growth.

When people say they wish Obama had embraced the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, they don't mean the specific details of that proposal. They mean the largeness that Obama's inauguration promised and the Simpson-Bowles moment afforded. They mean confronting the hard choices, instead of promising more bounty for everyone with no sacrifice ever.

Given the fact that Mr. Obama had to govern against an entire political party that was united in defeating everything he did starting on the night after his inauguration, it's amazing that he got anything done at all. Mr. Brooks acknowledges that, but still says he could have done better:

Sure, House Republicans have been intransigent, but Obama could have isolated them, building a governing center-left majority with an unorthodox agenda. Instead he's comforted the Democratic base and disappointed sympathizers who are not in it.

That's like saying to the crew of Apollo 13, "Oh, you're not going to let a little glitch keep you from landing on the moon, are you? C'mon, where's your courage, your sense of adventure? You're letting America down!"

At least he acknowledges that the president has had it rough: "No one is fair to President Obama. People grade him against tougher standards than any other politician." Oh, really? Why is that, d'you s'pose?

No president lives up to the hope and rhetoric of their inaugural address, and anyone who believes they should probably believes that using the right kind of toothpaste will get you laid. For someone who has been around as long as he has — and gets paid by The New York Times — Mr. Brooks is showing a naivete that is both breathtaking and not surprising at all.

He ends it all with a tepid hope that somehow Mr. Obama in his second term will be "free of politics."  Because that always happens in a second term, according to no one.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Romney could take New York

By Frank Moraes

As everyone knows, this election will all come down to the independent voter. So I decided to do a poll of the most independent voters in New York. Well, the most independent vote: Donald Trump. We know he's independent because sometimes he's a Republican, sometimes a third-party candidate, and even a Democrat on occasion.

In this election, Trump is breaking hard for Mitt Romney. Extrapolating from this poll, I predict New York will go for Romney. As with the predictions of Unskewed Polls, this result will likely surprise a lot of people. But should it, really? You know the old saying: as goes Trump, so goes America. President Obama will rue the day he passed up Trump's $5 million offer; that might have turned the independent vote to Obama. Ah, lost opportunities!

People will counter this result by claiming that there aren't nearly enough undecided voters in New York to change the election. I have two responses to this. First, I'm talking about independent voters, not undecided voters. New Yorkers are very independent, especially the 61% of them who say they will vote for President Obama. My second response is, "La, la, la. I can't hear you!"

Others will claim that my sample size is too small. This is ridiculous. Donald Trump is a very big sample size. Also: "La, la, la. I can't hear you!"

So when Tuesday night comes and Fox News announces that Romney has won New York: I told you so. And you will owe me (and to a lesser extent, Dean Chambers) a big apology.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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By Mustang Bobby

Does it really matter to you if someone else endorses a candidate?

I suppose it's interesting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the plutocrat's version of a maverick (he was once a Democrat, once a Republican, now an independent) endorsed President Obama the other day, but after the last week, it would be churlish of him not to at least thank him for helping out after the deluge. But I don't think he did it just for that reason alone; he's seeing which way the wind is blowing, so to speak, and the wind today seems to be coming from Chicago, not Boston.

But in truth I don't think endorsements should matter all that much to the average voter any more than a celebrity endorsement sells more coffee or boner pills. Most voters go into the polling station with one thing on their mind: What's in it for me? Forget the big issues like climate change or trade with China; will voting for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney make my life better here in my little world?

But there's one reason a lot of the campaigns make a big deal out of celebrity endorsements. They appeal to part of our brain that makes us read People magazine or Liz Smith's gossip column: it's the brush with fame that turns us on. Hey, I'm just like Brad Pitt because I like Barack Obama too!

It also cues up the lizard brain: make it about the primal fears of the voter and you can talk them into anything. A candidate will scare the crap out of you with threats of gays getting married and slutty college girls getting abortions even if you live in a town where the gay population is more likely to show up at Rotary on Tuesday than at the courthouse demanding a marriage license, and it's the housewife in need of a mammogram who loses when Planned Parenthood is run out of town.

So if you'll fall for that, perhaps you'll be impressed if Meat Loaf endorses Mitt Romney and Bruce Springsteen endorses Barack Obama. But neither of them are going to matter a whole lot when your local school district can't afford to fix up the classroom or the free clinic shuts down when some Jesus-shouting snake-handler warns of Hell on the sidewalk because they handed out condoms.

I endorse Barack Obama for president. So what?

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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A.M. Headlines

U.S. Politics

(CBS News): "Obama goes after Romney's Jeep ad"

(New York Times): "For Romney to win, state polls must be statistically biased"

(New York Times): "Disruption from storm may be felt at the polls"

(Washington Post): "Romney, Obama refine themes for campaign's last days"

(Wall Street Journal): "Obama holds lead in Florida and Ohio polls)

Other News

(Washington Post): "New Jersey faces daunting cleanup and recovery after Sandy"

(ABC News): "NYC Marathon is canceled following storm damage"

(Fox News): "Superstars perform benefit concern for Sandy victims"

(Voice of America)
: "Syrian Rebels launch assault for airbase"

(USA Today): "Losing Winter Classic is like losing Super Bowl"


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Friday, November 02, 2012

It's safe to come out now, Mitt

By Mustang Bobby

Captain Obvious chimes in:

After arguing during the Republican primary that the states should oversee disaster relief efforts, the Romney campaign this week has been slowly carving out a position that does not ignore the federal government's role. The most clarifying comment on disaster relief came late Wednesday in a statement to CBS News.

"I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters," Romney said in a statement from his campaign. "As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters."

Really goes out on the limb there, doesn't he?

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Some good news from New York City

By Michael J.W. Stickings

When he wasn't endorsing President Obama for re-election yesterday, Michael Bloomberg was focusing on post-Sandy relief and recovery and otherwise being extremely quotable. For example:

Let me also point out, I don't think we've had a murder in two or three days. That's some good news. 

Indeed it is, Mr. Mayor, indeed it is.

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Matt Taibbi on how the media are suddenly for big government

By Frank Moraes

Matt Taibbi is angry -- at a lot of different people, but mostly the media. He's been watching how they have reacted to the storm. Before, the main thing was that Big Government was baaad. Small government was the way to go. I've written about this: journalists are almost all in the upper or upper-middle classes. As a result, when it comes to economic issues, they are conservative. But more to the point: they are selfish. If it affects them, it matters; if it doesn't, not so much.

That has been brilliantly on display this week. I'm not suggesting that Sandy isn't a big deal (although few in the media were that interested in all the Haitians who died before it hit the east coast). But they are clearly a lot more interested because it has affected New York and Washington. Taibbi notes that Hurricane Sandy was all that was necessary to turn the mainstream media into Big Government lovers. And thus Obama lovers.

Except, of course, that of the two candidates, Obama has a far better claim to being the Small Government guy. He's the guy who has slashed the deficit, year after year. And Romney is Joe Isuzu giving away $5 trillion in new tax cuts and $2 trillion in new military spending. But just look at the record: Democrats are the fiscal conservatives.

Taibbi sees it a little differently. He thinks the federal budget will go way up regardless of who is elected President. Under normal circumstances, I would agree with him. (But don't misunderstand me: in general, federal spending going up is a good thing.) But with the Republican House, I think we will see more of the obstructionism that has defined the last four years.

But Taibbi knows who the true villains are in all of this: the rich Randians who depend upon government largess that the poor could only dream of:

But everyone lives off the government teat to some degree -- even (one might even say especially) the very rich who have been the core supporters of both the Bush presidency and Romney's campaign. Many are industrial leaders who would revolt tomorrow if their giant free R&D program known as the federal military budget were to be scaled back even a few percentage points. Mitt's buddies on Wall Street would cry without their bailouts and dozens of lucrative little-known subsidies (like the preposterous ability of certain banks to act as middlemen in transactions when the government lends money to itself).

And if it's not outright bailouts or guarantees keeping the rich rich, it's selective regulation and carefully-carved-out protections from competition -- like the bans on drug re-importation or pharmaceutical price negotiation for Medicare that are keeping the drug companies far richer than they would be, in the pure free-market paradise their CEOs probably espouse at dinner parties.

The evolution of this whole antigovernment movement has been fascinating to watch. People who grew up in public schools, run straight to the embassy the instant they get a runny nose overseas, stuff burgers down their throats without worrying about E. Coli and sleep happily in planes they know have been inspected by the FAA (I regularly risked my life in Aeroflot liners for a decade and know the difference), can with straight faces make the argument that having to pay any taxes at all is tyranny. It's almost as if people feel the need to announce that they don't need any help with anything, ever -- not even keeping bridges safe or drinking water clean.

That's right. But a big part of the problem is that the government goes out of its way to make welfare for the rich invisible just as it goes out of its way to make welfare for the poor as humiliating as possible. I once thought about getting food stamps. There were over 50 pages of documents to get as much as $200 per month in food assistance. The TARP loans of billions of dollars? Two pages.

We've got to get the government off the backs of the banks! Matt Taibbi isn't wrong to be angry.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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Behind the Ad: The man has no shame

By Richard K. Barry

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

Who: Obama-Biden campaign.

Where: Michigan and Ohio

What's going on: So much has been said about Mitt Romney's willingness to lie his ass off about nearly anything if he thinks it will help him win the election.  His campaign has said that they would not allow themselves to be influenced by fact checkers. He might as well have said he would not allow his campaign to be influenced by the truth.

Romney knows he needs Ohio to win the election, He knows Michigan would be a major victory, so he simply starting telling people that because of Barack Obama's efforts to save the auto industry, Chrysler would be shipping jobs to China for the production of its Jeep line. Not a word of it is true and Chrysler has said so.

Steve Benen talked about this today, citing a couple of newspaper pieces:

The New York Times editorialized today, "It's bad enough to be wrong on the policy. It takes an especially dishonest candidate to simply turn up the volume on a lie and keep repeating it." What's more, the Toledo Blade chastised Romney today for "conducting an exercise in deception about auto-industry issues that is remarkable even by the standards of his campaign."

The Obama campaign has an ad calling Romney out on his latest lie: "Cynical." I'd say this is what desperation looks like, but Romney has run his whole campaign like this.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Quote of the Day: The Times on Romney's lies

By Mustang Bobby

From the New York Times editorial on Mitt Romney's ad campaign about the auto industry bailout:

It's bad enough to be wrong on the policy. It takes an especially dishonest candidate to simply turn up the volume on a lie and keep repeating it.

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Montgomery Burns endorses... Mitt Romney

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Makes perfect sense, no?

No word yet from Robert Underdunk Terwilliger Jr., but I think we all know his views on the matter.

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I never thought I'd have a favorite auto executive

By Richard K. Barry

Ralph Gilles, Chrysler executive

Idiot extraordinaire Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that President Obama was a terrible negotiator, writing that "He bails out Chrysler and now Chrysler wants to send all Jeep manufacturing to China--and will."

The Detroit Free Press notes that the comment "drew a heated tweet from Chrysler Group Vice President for Product Design Ralph Gilles: "You are full of shit." Actually, they wrote that he said Trump was full of "@%#!," but that is not what Gilles tweeted.

Romney has not only been going around lying about Chrysler's intention to ship jobs overseas, he has produced political ads making the same claim that has been rejected as inaccurate by the car maker.

In fact, according to the Free Press:

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionee told employees by email on Tuesday that all U.S. Jeep production would stay in place and would "constitute the backbone of the brand."

We've almost gotten used to Romney's lies, but when it actually frightens workers that their jobs might be disappearing, is that not finally too much? And if it isn't, what would be too much?

It's also incredible that the party that claims to know so much about big business can make auto executives so angry.

If Mitt Romney really thinks Donald Trump is a valuable ally, his judgment is well beyond suspect.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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By Mustang Bobby

Shorter George F. Will:

Barack Obama is going to win, and I don't like that at all.

His version of a primal scream is fun to read because he embodies the uptight bow-tied daddy mentality, especially when he incorporates words like "bilious."

I don't think Mr. Will is an out-and-out bigot, but it's clear from his tone that he thinks Barack Obama was presumptuous in running for president and that once in office, he put on airs as if he was worthy of being the Commander in Chief when anybody could see that someone like him had no business being in the Oval Office. How dare he? Who does he think he is?

Of course, all the things he accuses Mr. Obama of doing — and not doing — in his first term would be excused by Mr. Will if he were a WASP Republican working against an intransigent and stubborn opposition party (which is a fantasy in itself), but because Mr. Obama is neither, he's the one who is guilty of arrogance and condescension. He doesn't use the word "uppity," but he might just as well; a sneer from him is as good as the N-bomb from anybody else.

I won't be waiting around to see if Mr. Will casts his watery gaze at the flailing campaign of Mitt Romney and his blatant misstatements and outright lies. In fact, I expect that Mr. Will will defend the Romney camp; what else can they do when they're under attack from the gang that doesn't respect the manifest destiny of their superiors?

What must be especially galling for Mr. Will is that in the last twenty years, the best examples of leadership and inspiration in this country have come from men he despised not for their policy but for their lack of breeding. It must really rattle the sensibilities of the old boys at Burning Tree that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, neither of whom could pass muster at the country club admissions committee, rallied the nation while their best example, a scion of the aristocracy, turned out to be a fool and a laughing stock.

I love the smell of freshly-made karma. 

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Polls, projections, and probabilities

By Michael J.W. Stickings

If you're really into the polls, a couple of things to read today:

-- Nate Silver: Obama's "firewall" is holding.

-- Mark Blumenthal: But what if the polls are wrong?

Well, anything can happen, of course, but it's nice to see the president up over 300 Electoral College votes and with a chance of winning over 80 in Silver's forecast (303.4 and 80.9, respectively).

With the trend in Obama's favor abundantly clear.

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A.M. Headlines

U.S. Politics

(USA Today): "NYC Mayor Bloomberg endorses Obama"

(NBC Chicago): "Romney, Obama await final jobs report of race|"

(USA Today)
: "Obama, Romney have 4 days to seal the deal"

(Washington Post): "Obama returns to trail as Romney sets his sights on Pennsylvania"

(Wall Street Journal)
: "Candidates resume battle for swing states"

Other News

(The Atlantic Wire): "Staten Island becomes focus of anger and tragedy"

(Businessweek): "It's global warming, stupid"

(CNN): "Sandy damages estimated at as much as $50 billion"

(Reuters): "Storm-hit New Yorkers uneasy about decisions to hold marathon"

(Reuters): "Ex-Penn State president charged with perjury in Sandusky case"


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Thursday, November 01, 2012

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorses Obama

By Richard K. Barry

Well done, Mr. Mayor.

In a surprise move, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Thursday Hurricane Sandy helped him make up his mind that Barack Obama was a better choice for the country.

In an editorial at Bloomberg, he wrote:

The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast — in lost lives, lost homes and lost business — brought the stakes of next Tuesday's presidential election into sharp relief.

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.

Ultimately, Mr. Bloomberg seems to have reasoned that with the stakes so high it might be a good idea to endorse the guy who believes in science.

In the endorsement, Bloomberg cited several things Obama has done to combat climate change, but he also cited other reasons like the president's support for abortion rights and same-sex couples -- important issues for the mayor.

Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama had been seeking the mayor's endorsement, but the mayor noted that however sensible Romney had been in the past on issues like immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care, he "reversed course on all of them."

Climate change may well have been what swayed Bloomberg ultimately, but not knowing or trusting what Mitt Romney stands for at any given moment seems also to have been a major factor. 

I hope others take heed.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Still lyin' after all these years

By Capt. Fogg

So lyin' Bill is still at it. I don't go looking for his wisdom any more than I go around opening manhole covers looking for a pleasant smell, but sometimes you just stumble into it - like you might step into some dog shit on the sidewalk. Anyway, here we have him again running his foul mouth for his foul audience hoping to promote evil and ugliness and hate wherever he can -- and get rich from doing it.

So Barack Obama hates half the country, says O'Reilly -- the white half, of course, because even though the only family he ever knew was white, he must hate white people because he's black -- even though he's every bit as white as he is black, unless of course the old Confederate, secessionist USA-hating bigots like Lyin' Bill are right that one drop of "black" blood means you're black and inferior. Old Confederate, secessionist bigots like Lyin' Bill must think that "black blood" is mighty powerful stuff though, if one drop of it can pollute an ocean of whiteness and all the superiority it conveys. Lyin' Bill must believe in "black power"! Whattaya know!

But Dennis Miller, that other Fox bastard who, back when he was funny and before he sold his soul for a buck-thirty-seven used to try to impress us all with his brilliance and erudition and vocabulary is reduced to making a living with pusillanimous persiflage for the amusement of the stupidest fraction of mediocre American minds by bantering with Bill would none the less opine that he seeth not the anger of blackness but the haughtiness of the educated. Fox and grapes, Dennis? Nobody thinks you're smart or funny anymore.

So they're back to this -- still at this, since every factual seeming accusation has been erased like grafitti under the blast from a power washer. The face numbers, the fake stories, the false identification with George Bush's blunders misdeeds, blunders and frauds -- it all has a shelf life and perhaps the lies have gone past it and are beginning to spoil and so it's back to racists and Bolshevik class warfare: he's a racist, he's a snob, he's consumed with hate (just like us).

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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It's only natural

By Mustang Bobby

Talk about your perfect storm: When you have an epic natural disaster occur a week before a very close election, of course it's going to be politicized

Disasters are inherently political, because government is political, and preventing and responding to disasters is a primary role of the state. But there is an innate tension in overtly politicizing a disaster. At the moment of greatest urgency, emotions run so hot that it's hard to fairly assess the costs and benefits of disaster response. On the other hand, moments of normality are too cool, and it is far too easy to minimize the costs of preparing for an eventuality that is far from the horizon.

What you are going to see over the next week is an overt effort by Democrats to politicize the issue of disaster response. They're right to do it. Conservatives are already complaining about this, but the attempt to wall disaster response off from politics in the aftermath of a disaster is an attempt to insulate Republicans from the consequences of their policies.


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

And as long as it doesn't interfere with the relief efforts, I say go for it.

I sure hope that no one is so naive as to think that President Obama's very visible 24/7 stewardship of the response by FEMA and various government agencies was not due in large part to the lessons learned from Katrina and the BP spill in 2010. Sure, you can hope that he would have done it anyway, and I have no doubt that he would have, but perhaps he wouldn't have been so subconsciously aware of the photo-ops, too. Even Mitt Romney's clunky attempt to turn his political rally into a GOP version of Live-Aid, complete with singers and a can drive (which is exactly what the Red Cross said they don’t need) showed that the Republicans, when pushed to the wall, can awkwardly look like they give a damn about people who lost their homes and had no second home to go to. (Mr. Romney compared this to cleaning up a football field. Seriously.)

So if the recovery is made easier and people get the help they need quicker, there's nothing at all wrong with making the point along the way that when it comes to that sort of thing, there is a political message that goes along with it.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Bored with polls

By Frank Moraes

This is just getting boring. Like all good liberals, I check Nate Silver's blog several times a day. (It's a Good Liberal Club rule!) But now it is just getting predictable. Let's think about this for a moment.

It must suck being Mitt Romney. Here you are working your campaign strategy of never answering questions. And: bam! This hurricane comes along and makes President Obama look heroic and now your surrogate Chris Christie seems to have a man crush on the President. Damn! And you know Romney was on non-message:

The nine Ohio polls of the last four days all show Obama winning the state -- except for the Rasmussen poll, which is kind of like your mother picking you for her basketball team.

But frankly, I don't give a shit about Romney. He has already had far, far more happiness than he deserves in life. So any pain he gets is good for the universe. The problem is that I'm a little deficient in the happiness race. I'd like to get a little back from the universe. But I'm sure not getting there via the Good Liberal Club and Nate Silver. It's become de rigueur.

The fabulous Nate Silver [yawn!] has increased President Obama's chances of winning re-election to 78.4% with a predicted electoral college total of 299.7. But that's not all. The most likely electoral college total is 332 votes -- there is more than a 17% chance of this being the number of electoral votes he gets. You know what they call that? A landslide. [yawn!]

There's never a good first presidential debate when you need it!

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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Behind the Ad: General Colin Powell, on board

By Richard K. Barry

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

Who: The Obama-Biden campaign.

Where: Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio. Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado.

What's going on: You probably know that General Colin Powell endorsed President Obama's re-election bid. You probably also know it's been driving the Republicans crazy. It may be the one thing that finally pushes John McCain over the edge. He clearly doesn't have far to go.

(Ed. note: And of course the loathsome John Sununu, a key Romney surrogate, said Powell's endorsement was motivated by race, as if it couldn't possibly have been anything else. This is the way far too many Republicans think. Which may be one reason why Powell, a self-proclaimed "moderate Republican," doesn't seem to feel at home in today's Republican Party. -- MJWS)

In this radio ad, taken from an interview Powell did with CBS news, the retired four star general says a bunch of really nice things about the president.

Powell enthusiastically cited the president's leadership in bringing us back from the brink of economic collapse, ending the war in Iraq, and putting in place a plan to end the war in Afghanistan, along with his strong record of fighting terrorism, as reasons for his endorsement.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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It was the end of times, it was the beginning of times

By Capt. Fogg

I called God this morning after breakfast -- you don't want to talk to him before he's had his coffee -- and I just had to ask him about the Texas Problem. I mean, I have friends there and I'm concerned that if he applies the Sodom and Gomorrah standard of needing ten good people to be granted immunity from destruction, they're going to get blasted. Hell, I think the place is long overdue, but maybe my friends could be given a warning or something. There's precedent.

But no, he says. I try to be fair and Texas has a vastly larger population than those mud-brick slums did and I have to grade on the curve. No problem if I only needed ten, but I figure I'd need about a million to keep me out of smite mode what with the population explosion and all, but one of the problems is corporate personhood. I mean, do I consider Texaco to be a person? Is ZZ Top one person or three? (That would count on the plus side, like Janis.) And of course I have to think about certain Texans as perhaps counting for more than one minus point on account of extreme douchebaggery and assholeness. I'm thinking of certain current and former governors.

I'll tell ya, those people who insist that they're my exclusive authorized agents really get to me and they sure as hell don't stick to anything like 15%. I don't see a dime out of any of them, not that I need it, mind you, but it's the principle of the thing and if anyone is going to give out the kind of conflicting and ambiguous commandments I enjoy, it's not going to be some pencil neck twit with a comb-over like Robert Jeffress. The man is an insult to my authority and I can't believe I created somebody who can tell you that Obama is just like Hitler with a straight face. Not that his face is all that straight, come to think of it, and I have to wonder what's happened to quality control. I don't recall having outsourced it to Dumbfuckistan like I was a Republican or something. 

Anyway, sure, the dipshit is right. Mormonism is a cult, just like any other followers of any of the other uppity pricks who insist I gave them some kind of exclusive commission or something. Jesus? Hey, I never touched that girl and that Saul or Paul or Raul or whoever he calls himself is full of shit. Has been since he fell off his jackass, as if that were a coincidence. So if you believe that mierda, you're no smarter than if you believe Joe Smith wasn't just trying to get laid by pretending he had my private number. I don't have a private number, as you well know. Ahem. You try taking seven billion calls a day and see what it does to your mood!

Actually, I was just thinking about Texas myself this morning, 'cause I read in the paper they banned wearing those fucking "Vote the Bible" T-shirts in polling places. They get some credit for that, but how much do I subtract for them not stoning the cocksuckers* who insist I wrote that pile of political shit myself. Why the hell would I ban cheeseburgers but allow slavery? Think I'm fucking stupid?

I'm thinking damnation is what I'm thinking and maybe some shitload of boiling brimstone as an amuse bouche and fuck y'all with this rapture-crapture. It's crowded as hell here and I closed the border a long time ago, what with Cousin Krishna pestering the female help and cousin Wotan stinking up the john every morning. That Ganesh is eating me out of house and home you know -- he has an elephant stomach to go with that elephant head. Look -- I don't need any more damn company, OK? Y'all can stay where you are and it was a damn decent place when I gave it to you and the warranty was up a long time ago. No deposit, no return. Live with it.

Anyway, yeah, Texas is a pain in the ass, but not the only one in your part of the mudball planet. The way you treat each other and blame it on me has put me off my feed and the old lady is bitching about my temper and about how I'm not doing enough about that human infestation I started on her otherwise perfectly nice planet and I'm thinking smite night Fogg. I mean it. It's ass-kicking time. You either get rid of the trash yourself, or I'll jiggle the ballot box and give you Romney and Ryan and maybe Reverend Phelps as Secretary of State. Noah is long gone and no stupid boat is going to save your asses this time. And by the way, stop calling me.  I'll call you, and that's all the warning you're gonna get.

* And by the way, about that particular practice -- I don't give a shit what you do as long as you don't do it in the road and scare the horses. If I don't participate, it's because I don't have that appendage -- or any other. Why the fuck would I want to look like you? What? In my image? Monkey's image, dude. Monkey's image. I told you I didn't write that book.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Not from The Onion: Michael Brown on the response to Sandy

By Michael J.W. Stickings and Mustang Bobby


I've always thought that Brown was Bush's convenient scapegoat after Katrina, even if it was clear that he wasn't at all qualified for the job and didn't do anywhere near a good job, let alone a heckuva one. He and I even had some e-mail exchanges several years ago after I published a post at The Moderate Voice (somewhat) defending him. He's a nice guy, or at least he was to me, and he seemed like a thoughtful man.

But this... this is just stupid, not to mention unnecessarily partisan (and self-defensive) at a time when what is needed, as Chris Christie knows, isn't division but unity. And if he's really having a hard time figuring out the difference between Benghazi and Sandy, perhaps he should think a little harder. One involves trying to gether meaningful intelligence after a sudden uprising/attack in a dangerous foreign location, while the other involves responding, with measures already in place, to the devastation caused by a storm that everyone knew was coming, along the rather less foreign eastern seabord of the United States.

If you have trouble getting your head around that, you shouldn't be commenting publicly about anything, especially if you didn't have much credibility to begin with.



Michael ("Heckuvajob Brownie") Brown, failed ex-head of FEMA under George W. Bush who completely screwed up Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, on President Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy:

"One thing he's gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in... Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?" Brown says. "Why was this so quick?... At some point, somebody's going to ask that question... This is like the inverse of Benghazi."

Yeah: he's saying President Obama responded too quickly.

There's never a large polo mallet around when you need one.

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