Saturday, September 22, 2012

What A Week

Has there even been a week like this in presidential politics?  When more than a month from the final vote tally, one candidate seems to be going down in flames?  According to prominent members of his own party?

New poll numbers tell the continuing story.  The National Journal poll has President Obama up 50-43.  Reason/Rupe (whoever they are) has Obama at 52% to Romney at 45.  There's some cognitive dissonance in the blizzard of polls done by different methods, including Internet only, while some of the tracking polls (like Gallup) are diverging possibly because they don't call cell phones.  But the consensus on the polls in general is that the Obama bounce is remaining bouyant--it's no longer a bounce, it's a trend.  Moreover, undecideds are breaking for Obama.  And the full polling effect of the Romney video has yet to be felt.

Prudence suggests waiting to see what else happens, but when GOPers themselves are treating Romney as dead man walking, it's hard not to buy into the conclusion  Alex Koppleman looks at the math in the New Yorker and concludes:

 Yes, there’s still a decent amount of time left before Election Day—but only in theory. In all the time he’s had so far, Romney’s been almost entirely unable to get much momentum going in the swing states, and has basically failed to expand his map to traditionally Democratic states. And now, to make matters worse, we find out that he doesn’t seem to have the financial or airtime advantage over Obama that we all thought he would. Plus, early voting has already begun in many states; it will start in plenty more soon. Considered in that light, six and a half weeks starts looking like nothing more than just enough time to go through the motions of the end of a losing campaign.

In the midst of this there was this moment on the Romney campaign, on the tarmac near the candidate's plane, when a pool reporter asked Romney if he planned to campaign harder from now to the end.  Here's Romney's reply: "Ha ha. We’re in the stretch aren’t we? Look at those clouds. It’s beautiful,” he said, pointing to the sky. “Look at those things.”

Meanwhile, President Obama was integrating a little more from the infamous Romney video into his stump speech every day.  In Virginia he said, "I don't see a lot of victims in this crowd today," and gave a shout out to all those who do get tax breaks but for good reason and to good effect for their lives and future--students, single mothers, retraining workers, retirees.  Romney's "47%" comments have provided him with the opportunity not only to knock them down directly, but to pivot to his signature theme of we're all in this together--including the 47% who didn't vote for him last time.  The Obama campaign pledges to stay aggressive.

Meanwhile, his vp running mate got some surprising news.  With the media attributing the Dems post-convention success to Bill Clinton's speech, it turns out not to have been the most watched speech of the conventions.  Nor was President Obama's.

The highest TV rating for any speaker in either convention was Joe Biden (14.7)  President Obama was second, Mitt Romney third, and Bill Clinton was fourth.

A percentage point below Clinton was Clint Eastwood.  Michelle Obama came in 7th, and Ann Romney 10th (just behind Paul Ryan.)

The major remaining victory strategy for Romney and the GOPers remains state voter suppression.  It's the subject of a New York Review of Books essay by veteran reporter Elizabeth Drew.  She concludes:

"Having covered Watergate and the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and more recently written a biography of Nixon, I believe that the wrongdoing we are seeing in this election is more menacing even than what went on then. Watergate was a struggle over the Constitutional powers and accountability of a president, and, alarmingly, the president and his aides attempted to interfere with the nominating process of the opposition party. But the current voting rights issue is even more serious: it’s a coordinated attempt by a political party to fix the result of a presidential election by restricting the opportunities of members of the opposition party’s constituency—most notably blacks—to exercise a Constitutional right.

This is the worst thing that has happened to our democratic election system since the late nineteenth century, when legislatures in southern states systematically negated the voting rights blacks had won in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Following the Money Continued

Those campaign financial reports are in, as of early Friday morning.  Here's how the New York Times describes them:

 While the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee outraised President Obama and the Democratic National Committee for a three month streak starting in May, Democrats managed to turn things around in August. According to campaign finance reports released on Thursday, the Romney campaign kicked off September with $50 million cash on hand and a loan to repay, compared to President Obama's $87.7 million. The Washington Post reports that Romney raised $67 million in August, but spent about the same amount on advertising and building its campaign organization. While Romney isn't exactly strapped for cash, the numbers aren't encouraging.

The news from the main pro-Romney super-PAC was even worse. Restore Our Future spent $21.2 million in August, but it ended the month with only $6.3 million in cash. According to Reuters, the pro-Obama Priorities USA super-PAC ended the month with $4.8 million in the bank, but August was its best fund-raising month yet, with $10.1 million raised."

The AP:

At the end of August, President Obama had about $88.8 million to spend on the final months of the campaign, nearly twice as much as Republican rival Mitt Romney, according to campaign fundraising reports released Thursday.

In another story detailing campaign expenditures, the NYTimes has this paragraph certain to be repeated all day on the talk shows as a perfect example of Romney's Bain-taining his campaign:

Another set of expenditures is likely to draw grumbles from Mr. Romney’s allies given his campaign’s current struggles: The day after accepting the Republican nomination, Mr. Romney gave what appeared to be $192,440 in bonuses to senior campaign staff members. At least nine aides received payments on Aug. 31 well in excess of their typical biweekly salaries, including $25,000 each for Matthew Rhoades, the campaign manager; Lanhee Chen, a policy adviser; and Katie Biber, the general counsel. Rich Beeson, the political director, received $37,500."

Does Anyone Believe Romney Should Be President?

Let me begin with a paragraph that ended one of my Wednesday posts:

"What Romney has revealed from this summer to now makes me wonder--even if he were elected, how in the world will he govern? He's thoroughly alienated the UK, Russia and China. His Middle East views are incoherent (as the Florida fundraiser video shows.) Despite his braying about increasing the military budget, the Pentagon must be wary of his ignorance and bluster. He's definitely alienated the entire foreign service. Now he's insulted half the electorate. The internals of the polls show that he's not trusted, believed or liked. As a candidate he's a disaster. But as President he's catastrophe."

About a week ago there was a story quoting British PM David Cameron to the effect that all of England was against Romney's election.  Cameron is in the Brit sense a conservative.  Now today there's an even more forcefully expressed and on the record story in the Guardian quoting the Treasurer of another US ally and one of the few countries not to have felt a recession, Australia:  Wayne Swan, who was named by banking magazine Euromoney as its finance minister of the year in 2011.  Here's what he said:

"Let's be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over the Republican party," Swan said in a speech to a conference in Sydney.

To be fair, he seemed to be talking mostly about the GOPer Congress, but he did not exclude the GOPer candidate for president. For a leader of an ally nation--even a member of a left-center party-- to call out an entire US political party for being dominated by "cranks and crazies" is one thing.  But to say that this party posing "the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy" is very powerful stuff.

It more than suggests what's at the heart of the Romney conundrum at the moment: he's losing credibility as a possible president as well as a candidate.  The polls continue to go bad for him, other Republican candidates are running away from him, and the strongest language criticizing him is coming from his own party.  This has all happened in the space of two weeks, and so logic would suggest that in two more weeks it could turn around.  But can it?

What the last few days suggest is that Romney has lost what basic credibility he had.  Today he and his campaign have made attempts to fashion new messages, and to make new charges against President Obama.  After a long fallow period, Romney is starting to campaign again furiously.  He looks like a man who knows everything is at stake.  But so far, what's notable about the media reaction is that nobody is buying any of it.  He's lost credibility with reporters.  Polls show that he has little credibility with voters, certainly less than does President Obama.

Normally, when the story is "the fall," the next story is inevitably "the redemption" or "fighting back"--something in the other direction.  Particularly with political campaigns, if for no other reason than the need for campaign news media to hold onto their audience.  There's a little of that already, especially at Politico.  But the one thing that can prevent that story from turning (besides poll numbers that continue to show more than 4 point spreads) is the fatal loss of basic credibility. 

The question that will probably be answered in the next week or two is: will anything that Romney says or does matter?  Or have voters basically stopped caring what he says or does. 

Even now, the question is: does anybody actually believe Romney should be President of the United States?  There is still of course a Rabid Right that hates the idea of Obama being President.  But that's not the same thing.  And yet, that's the question when you're about to mark your ballot.

Thursday's polls: the news ones by non-Republican pollsters (and even some by GOPers) confirm President Obama's leads in the swing states as mentioned yesterday, with the addition of Iowa (in the NBC/Marist poll), where he leads by 8, 50-42.  It was very close in Iowa last month.  The other swing state added in one poll is New Hampshire where President Obama leads 47-40.  The last New Hampshire poll I saw showed Romney ahead, but it probably was Rasmussen, which tends to lean heavily GOPer. 

Also on Thursday, Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown debated in MA.  From the few minutes I saw, Brown appeared petulant, aggressive and desperate.  Warren was composed, direct, smart.  The pundits will discuss this debate endlessly on Friday but I don't see how it did Brown any good, and it feels like it boosts Warren.  He lost the women's vote with this debate.

The Pennsylvania story:  The court hearing on the GOP voter suppression ID law is set for Tuesday.  This article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette outlines the issues (and suggests the local confusion), and it ends with that inflammatory quote I posted Wednesday.

Libya attack was terrorism: The LA Times reports that the White House (through press sec Jay Carney) is now referring to the murder of the US. ambassador to Libya in Benghazi as an act of terrorism.  "Carney said investigators have “indications of possible involvement” of Al Qaeda in the Magreb, but he said there is no evidence “at this point to suggest that this is a significantly pre-planned attack.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Following the Money

New campaign financial numbers should be coming out today.  So far the surprise has been that the Obama campaign continues to outspend Romney in key states.

Several commentators have noted Richie Romney's very light campaigning schedule since the GOPer convention.  Even some GOPers seem puzzled by his forgoing campaigning in swing states for events to raise money.  They, along with everyone else, figure he's got enough cash stashed.

But this piece in the New York Times casts some doubt.  It turns out that the R campaign is still being outspent in several swing states by the Obama campaign.  In some cases that even figures in the big bucks from his billionaire superpacs.  Why?

One major reason appears to be that Mr. Romney’s campaign finances have been significantly less robust than recent headlines would suggest. Much of the more than $300 million the campaign reported raising this summer is earmarked for the Republican National Committee, state Republican organizations and Congressional races, limiting the money Mr. Romney’s own campaign has to spend.

It may be that all the money we've been hearing about is more Romney smoke and mirrors.  They weren't raising money fast enough in the summer and had to borrow $20 million until he was formally nominated.  That freed up the funds he'd storehoused for the general election.  Still--

Yet at the same time Romney aides worked hard to project the image of a fund-raising machine far outpacing the president’s. Romney aides released informal dollar figures that lumped several pools of money — some available for his use, others not — into a single figure, providing a perception greater than reality: $106 million in June and $101 million in July, far more than Mr. Obama and the Democrats. Yet those figures obscured the fact that most of the money Mr. Romney was raising was reserved for those other political entities like the Republican National Committee.

Moreover there are all kinds of constraints on piles of this money.  Not so much for the Obama campaign's cash cache however.  It turns out his secret weapon  And other small donors:

A closer look at Mr. Romney’s own filings revealed that Mr. Obama, while trailing in overall party fund-raising, was pulling far more money than Mr. Romney into his campaign account, the most useful and flexible dollars a candidate has to spend, in part because of strong collection from small donors who could give again and again without hitting federal limits.

Most of the money that is being spent and will be spent in this election is coming from the billionaire pacs and primarily for Romney.  So it's not like that advantage has gone away.  The R-leaning Politico says some questions about finances will be answered by the end of Thursday when new numbers are released.  Nobody is yet saying that the Romneyryanrove marriage is over.  But if the GOPer panic is genuine--and downballot candidates continue to distance themselves from Romney--that could change.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Creative Destruction

The man who created the Pennsylvania voter suppression ID law may have just become the man who destroyed it.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA) sponsored the voter suppression ID law.  Tuesday the PA Supreme Court ordered a lower court to stop the law for this election if that judge found that it was likely to disenfranchise legitimate voters.

In an interview on Pittsburgh's flagship radio station, KDKA, Rep. Metcalfe said this:  "I don’t believe any legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and takes on the according responsiblity that goes with that right to secure their photo ID will be disenfranchised. As Mitt Romney said, 47% of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that."

I don't see how a judge can look at such a sickening statement, particularly with the statistical evidence showing the impossibility of issuing IDs in time, and do anything other than call the whole thing off.

And Wednesday's Polls Are...

even worse, for Romney, and increasingly for other GOPer candidates.

The Pew poll of likely voters shows President Obama with an eight point national lead, 51%-43%.  Like other recent polls, President Obama has leads in most categories, and his voters are more enthusiastic and positive--they are voting for him, whereas more of Romney's voters are voting against Obama (this also in today's Economist poll.)

Rachel flagged this number from the Pew poll: on the question of who "connects with ordinary people," President Obama leads--by 43 points.
One of the Pew analysts pointed to a statistic that 70% of black voters said they were very interested in the election--the same percentage as in 2008, when African Americans voted at historic highs.

The latest swing state polls show President Obama with a slight lead in Colorado, and a larger lead in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

A just released Fox poll shows President Obama with a 7 point lead in Ohio, and 5 points in Florida.  A CNN poll says that Obama's lead in Michigan is 8 points.

Now the greater interest and enthusiasm of Democrats and perhaps a further tarnished GOPer brand as well as Romney's reverse coattails may be contributing to other races.  In particular, two crucial Senate races that have been virtually tied for months are showing movement towards the Democrat.  Two polls earlier in the week show Elizabeth Warren opening about a five point lead on incumbent GOPer Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts.  Today two polls show Democrat Tim Kaine opening a 7 to 8 point lead over GOPer George Allen in Virginia. 

Even in Wisconsin, where Dem Tammy Baldwin has been running behind in her Senate race, one poll shows her with a substantial lead.  Though this poll may be an outlyer, it has a good reputation so it bears watching.   This same poll has President Obama leading by 14 points in Wisconsin.

In a just released poll by Reuters, almost 60% said Romney's comments recorded on the now infamous video unfairly dismissed almost half the population as feeling they are victims. 43% said it makes them feel less favorably towards Romney. President Obama has a five point lead in the Reuters tracking poll.  A Gallup poll has similar results, showing especially that most independents didn't like Romney's comments.

Romney to Americans in Trouble: Drop Dead

[This is a one minute Obama campaign ad, asking people to respond to Romney's comments.]

The entire video of Romney at a fundraiser among his fellow richies was released Tuesday, as reaction to the first excerpts on Monday continued to come in, fast and furious.  Some of the most damning language came from GOPer talkers and writers like David Brooks, William Kristol (who called it "arrogant and stupid") and Peggy Noonan.

With some time to digest it, there are a couple of specific points to make about that first statement I quoted in a previous post.  Here it is again:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...These are people who pay no income tax....My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Mitt Romney is roughly my age, so I know where some of this language comes from, because we've been hearing it for some time.  People who "believe government has a responsibility to care for them" but take no "personal responsibility" are black people on welfare.  That's what that has always meant.  It was upped by Reagan's mythical "welfare queens." 

The language of "who believe that they are victims" refers to people who believe they were victimized by racism and discrimination--the people who get Affirmative Action.  Black people.  It stokes racial resentment, one of the few things that actually unites the Romney richies, the white country club set, with working class and poor whites: the idea that black people get extra stuff from the government that they don't get.  And that is especially "logical" when there's a black President.

The white people who hold these views (writes conservative David Frum) are also likely to overestimate the percentage of African Americans (plus Latinos, these days) so that 47% sounds right to them.  And so this is not an unusual formulation in the Rabid Right--which is why there's some support there for what Romney said.

The political problem for Romney, Andrew Sullivan writes, is that a lot of people are going to see themselves in that 47% regardless of their race. And it is the words "who see themselves as victims" that is going to come back to haunt him.  "Or to put it bluntly: the real crime of 47 percent of Americans is their laziness - and then they have the gall to whine about the One Percent. He is using the key argument of racists against African-Americans through the ages against 47 percent of the country. That's the equivalent of calling a lot of old white people the n-word."

A lot of ink was spilled on Tuesday to parse who exactly doesn't pay federal income tax (besides, apparently, Mitt Romney, who Rachel Maddow astutely reminded us, said during a primary debate that he only paid capital gains tax for the past two years) but the story is pretty much told in this one chart (and I'm not normally a chart kind of guy.)

What the chart shows is that 80% of Americans pay federal taxes in their prime earning years, after being students and before being retired.  Moreover, most of those (apart from millionaires who, as Romney has said in the past, are doing their patriotic duty by paying the least amount of taxes their lawyers can determine that the tax code requires) who don't pay federal income tax are getting deductions because of low incomes.  Others are receiving benefits because they are sick, disabled, unemployed or too poor to feed their children, or because they earned benefits for retirement, or they are receiving incentives to get the schooling that prepares them to be productive citizens. 

Romney's plan is to cut taxes for the wealthy as a way (he says) to boost the economy.  Despite the fact that yet another study shows that cutting taxes for the wealthy doesn't boost the economy--it only adds to income inequality, which is a way of saying that the rich get richer while the middle class and the poor get poorer.

Other studies have shown that in order to pay for Romney's tax cuts, the middle class will have to pay more in federal taxes as a byproduct.  What Romney implied in this video is that it's not a byproduct--it's part of the deal.  Other GOPers--and arguably Romney himself--have stated that the poor need to pay more in taxes (and the GOPer government in Kansas has enacted just such a Robin Hood tax law.) 

This is the biggest reason that Romney's video statement is scary.  Sure, he couches it as political analysis.  But his scorn for people who may need temporary help from the government at some point in their lives tends to support the idea that destroying the safety net is his intention.  People in trouble turn to their fellow citizens through the resources they provide together--the government--to get through their bad times, to help them address their difficulties and mend them. 

That's part of what it means to be President of the whole country.  Romney was signaling that there is half of the country he doesn't care about.  And anybody, except perhaps his billionaire friends, might find themselves in that half.  Moreover, in this video we don't see the public Romney--his halting delivery, his goofy mannerisms, his ridiculous attempts to seem folksy and warm.  He is talking fast, clearly, confidently--and it sounds that he means every word he is saying.  It looks and sounds like the real Romney. 

What Romney has revealed this summer makes me wonder--even if he were elected, how in the world will he govern?  He's thoroughly alienated the UK, Russia and China.  His Middle East views are incoherent (as this video shows.) Despite his braying about increasing the military budget, the Pentagon must be wary of his ignorance and bluster.  He's definitely alienated the entire foreign service.  Now he's insulted half the electorate.  The internals of the polls show that he's not trusted, believed or liked.  As a candidate he's a disaster.  But as President he's catastrophe.

Tuesday's Polls Are Full of Woe

--if you're Mitt, that is.

Though the Gallup tracking poll tightened, the NBC/WSJ likely voter poll shows President Obama at the magic 50%, with Romney at 45.
(Among registered voters Romney slips to 44%.)  President Obama's approval rating is also at 50%, the highest it has been since March.  Other recent credible national polls also put the margin at 4 or 5%.

A couple of new polls join one from Monday that show President Obama significantly ahead in Virginia.

And a NYT/CBS poll released Wednesday morning of likely voters in Wisconsin where Romneyryan had been leading slightly, has reverted to a 51-45 lead for President Obama.  That includes a 17 point lead in "cares about my needs and problems."  The NBC national poll also shows a significant Obama lead in who will be better for the middle class.

Two national polls and one Virginia poll show that voters were watching the events in Libya and Egypt last week, and nearly half approved President Obama's response while nearly half didn't like Romney's responses. 

Still, for all the words about the wheels coming off the Romney campaign, and the horrible three weeks he's inflicted, the core split is still there, with that stubborn mid-40s percentage support remaining for Romney.  Still, G.W. eventually cratered below what was supposed to be his unassailable base of support, though he did that when he was no longer running for anything.

Some also note that the Obama surge correlates with a period in which the Obama campaign's ad spending in the swing states was temporarily higher than Romney's.  That's not going to happen again, unless the donor wheels also fall off in the next few weeks.

So the Romney campaign's chief hope is in the millions of dollars yet to be spent by his outside megapacs, and in voter suppression, which despite high profile court defeats, is still going strong in the key states of Florida and Ohio, and will continue through election day and possibly beyond. 

The internals of the polls now truly suggest that Romney is unlikely to gain much ground.  Of the states that Obama won in 2008, only Indiana seems already lost.  North Carolina and Colorado are iffy.  But the Romney campaign must know that it cannot win without Ohio and Florida (especially if Virginia is getting away from them) and so their voter suppression efforts will be concentrated there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PA Supreme Court: Show Me the Vote

The PA Supreme Court rendered a decision on the GOPer voter suppression law.  They were hearing an appeal from a lower court which refused to grant an injunction to stop the law from going into effect this November.  TPM reports: "In a 4-2 ruling, the justices ordered the lower court to block the law unless Pennsylvania can prove it is currently providing “liberal access” to photo identification cards and that there “will be no voter disenfranchisement” on Election Day. The two dissenters opposed the voter ID law and wanted the Supreme Court to issue an injunction itself."

In other words, the Court of  3 Democrats and 3 Republicans was unanimous that the law is in effect a voter suppression law.

If the Commonwealth cannot prove that voters will not be disenfranchised by this law for the coming election, the lower court is ordered to issue an injunction voiding the law's application for 2012.  This court has two weeks to decide.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney to Half of America: Drop Dead

Hey, you can't take your eye off the ball.

I caught this item on Political Wire just before I left the house for several hours this afternoon.  My immediate thought was: Romney is worse than even I thought he is.  It's frightening to have this guy still so close to the presidency.  But I also thought: this could be pretty bad for him, eventually.

By the time I got back it had blown up so big that Romney called a sudden 10 p.m. press conference, tried to control the damage by answering three questions, not really backing off the statements, and stalking off while the questions were still coming.  That's all within a matter of hours.

Here's that item:

A hidden camera video of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser shows him talking disparagingly of people who will vote for President Obama.

Said Romney: "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...These are people who pay no income tax."

He adds: "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The original story and video appear here at Mother Jones.

The Obama campaign was quick to respond.  Campaign director Jim Messina got to the heart of it: "It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."

Disdain as it turned out was one of the milder words used to describe the Romney statement.  Perhaps the most eloquent was Jonathan Chait whose New York story online ran under the headline The Real Romney Captured On Tape Turns Out To Be A Sneering Plutocrat.  He writes: 

"Instead the video exposes an authentic Romney as a far more sinister character than I had imagined...The revelations in this video come to me as a genuine shock. I have never hated Romney. I presumed his ideological makeover since he set out to run for president was largely phony, even if he was now committed to carry through with it, and to whatever extent he’d come to believe his own lines, he was oblivious or na├»ve about the damage he would inflict upon the poor, sick and vulnerable. It seems unavoidable now to conclude that Romney’s embrace of Paul Ryanism is born of actual contempt for the looters and moochers, a class war on behalf of his own class."

The condescension doesn't surprise me--I noted that in his acceptance speech.  But this is naked contempt--colder than the hot contempt of some on the Rabid Right, but cold contempt in some ways is worse.  It's just as self-righteous and deluded.

The 47% Romney is talking about isn't 47%: it is (on the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street) the 99%.  He has declared class war on seniors on Social Security and Medicare, the millions on unemployment insurance and who need food stamps to feed their families in tough times...  Whatever the political effect, what it tells us about policy is devastating.  It really is going to be tax cuts for the rich, and everybody else be damned.

All this comes after a week in which Romney was trying to get out from under his Embassy statements, and after a morning of brutal stories about the wheels coming off his campaign, and disorganized and contradictory comments from his campaign about how they aren't disorganized and contradictory, including contradictory statements about how the campaign is going to change.  Here's a summary of that.

All this led Andy Borowitz to file his report:
"In what his campaign described today as a bold strategy to insure victory in the Presidential contest, Republican nominee Mitt Romney will undergo a procedure to have his mouth wired shut until Tuesday, November 6th. The decision reportedly was made in response to the release earlier in the day of rare video footage showing Mr. Romney saying what he really thinks."

But what this portends is far from comic.  For all day apparently the Rabid Right has been cheering Romney's statements, which he did not really disavow.  It now looks as if he's stuck with a campaign of Gingrichian hate, against the socialist food stamp President and his undeserving supporters, that 99% of black Americans and 65% of Latinos, half of white America, most elderly and students, etc. who can't be convinced to take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

So it's likely to get uglier, especially with the huge negative ad buys his billionaires are funding.  But those who still have the right to vote can take personal responsibility and care enough to make their votes count, and make sure Romney does not move into the White House.

There are a lot of these time lapses videos now. I like this one not only for the Northwest landscape but because it holds onto each scene longer than most. Frankly, I am distracted by doubting that these skies are real, matched with the landscapes. Otherwise, there are several really powerful scenes, like dreamscapes. I still also question whether time lapse gives you much more to meditate on than time, rather than landscape. We apparently can't handle stillness. Anyway, the imagery is beautiful.  Happy Monday.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend Update: Power

There was alot of noodling, posturing and general bullshit on the TV machine and in the newspapers on Sunday about President Obama's foreign policy.  But largely ignored were two instances of how power really works.

Last week President Obama said in an interview that Egypt isn't necessarily an ally, but not an enemy either--a new government, democratically elected, finding its way.  Gaffe! Right?  And the stories circulated that President Obama had refused to meet with Israeli PM  Netanyahu.  Big mistake!  Right? So naive...

Well, the media may not have gotten the message in both instances, but the intended receiver did.  Egypt's new president learned that in order to keep American foreign aid coming he was going to have to do it the old fashioned way--earn it.  The very least an "ally" or even a neutral nation must do for another is protect their Embassy from violence.  Egypt got the messsage.

As for Netanyahu, he was all but campaigning for Romney. He welcomes him to Israel.  Suddenly there's no time in the President's schedule for a meeting in New York.  And suddenly, Netanyahu is in danger of alienating the guy who is President now and is ahead in the polls to stay President.  He's going to have to do some earning as well.  So N went on two Sunday blatherfests to declare that he wants to get out of this interfering in American elections but people keep trying to pull him back in,  and he's confident that President Obama supports Israel's security interests just as much as Mitt.  Message received. 

The projection of power requiring no bluster, posturing or starting a war.     

On Saturday, there were fewer and less violent demonstrations in the Middle East.  But Libyan officials also consider an al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group as responsible for the Benghazi murders.  Whether the video protest was a pretext or a coincidence--with the 9-11 anniversary more of a factor--remains to be determined.

Another attack that was initially reported as related to the protests also probably was not--the terrorist attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan that killed two U.S. Marines, and seemed intended to target England's Prince Harry, beginning his rotation at that base.

Also, the man who probably made that video was questioned by police, because he's on parole.

In political news, a Philadelphia Inquirer poll showed President Obama has an 11 point lead in Pennsylvania, at 50-39.  This was the second straight month that he was at 50% or over.  His favorability went up slightly while Romney's tumbled.  Obama wins all demographic groups, including whites and men.

But there is a catch--the President's big lead comes "overwhelmingly" from the Philadelphia area, which is precisely where the voter suppression ID law is likely to have the most effect.  The poll found a lot of awareness of the law (80%) and some 5% who thought it might make voting more difficult for them.  But observers say that people aren't aware of how stringent the ID requirement is, and so may not know they are ineligible until they are denied the right to vote on election day.

Several articles noted that in most polls President Obama has at least pulled even with Romney in best able to handle the economy.  The New York Times noted that after GOPer misinformation seemed to muddy the waters after their convention, Obama and the Dems are back winning on Medicare.

The San Francisco Chronicle is among the consensus that President Obama has a substantial electoral college lead, and that Romney needs a clear win (and a clear debacle for President Obama) in the first debate to have any chance.  After that (others say) even his flow of money might stop.