The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.The four men are not likely to be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said."

New York Times: "In an apparent targeted killing, two police officers were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon by a man who later fatally shot himself in head, police officials said."

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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ABC News: "After more than 20 years together, music icon Elton John and his partner David Furnish are married!... A law passed earlier this year in England allow[s] same-sex marriage...."

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

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Monday
Nov052012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 6, 2012

Returns of the Day

Byron Wolf of ABC News: "The small hamlet of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire ... votes right at midnight.... This year ten voters ... split evenly -- five votes apiece -- for President Obama and ... Mitt Romney.... The other New Hampshire town with midnight voting -- the slightly more populous (32 voters) Hart's Location -- swung towards Obama tonight -- 23 Obama, 9 Romney."

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "If President Obama wins re-election on Tuesday, the historical memory of the race might turn on the role played by Hurricane Sandy. But while the storm and the response to it may account for some of Mr. Obama's gains, they do not reflect the whole story.... Mr. Obama had already been rebounding in the polls, slowly but steadily, from his lows in early October -- in contrast to a common narrative in the news media that contended, without much evidence, that Mr. Romney still had the momentum in the race. Moreover, there are any number of alternatives to explain Mr. Obama's gains before and after the storm hit." Thanks to a reader for the graphic, which was posted on Daily Kos & elsewhere.... we are at the point where the polling averages in each state are pretty much locked in -- and it is mostly a question of whether the actual results will approximate them, in which case Mr. Obama should claim enough electoral votes between Ohio and other states to win another term." Silver gives Obama a 92 percent chance of winning, which leaves Rmoney with 8 percent odds. Thanks to a reader for the graphic, which appeared on Daily Kos & elsewhere. ...

     ... Update: the latest from Silver: it's Barack-o-Mentum.

... NEW. Nate Cohn of The New Republic: "Obama leads by at least 3 points with 49 percent of the vote in the states won twice by Kerry and Gore, plus New Mexico, Nevada, and Ohio. These states are worth 272 electoral votes [270 needed to win], and with the exception of a stray poll in Michigan, Romney doesn't lead in a single non-partisan survey in any of those states."

... Jon Cohen, et al., of the Washington Post: "Heading into Election Day, likely voters divide 50 percent for President Obama and 47 percent for ... Mitt Romney, according to the latest, final weekend release of the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll." ...

... NEW. David Atkins of Hullabaloo immortalizes the GOP predictions of the day, all of which have Romney winning in an Electoral College landslide.

President Obama's last campaign rally, or as Michelle Obama put it, the "final event of my husband's final campaign":

E. J. Dionne: "... Obama is fighting a Republican Party determined to bring the Gilded Age back and undo the achievements of a century. And so, beneath the attacks, the counterattacks, and the billions invested by small numbers of the very rich to sway the undecided, we face a choice on Tuesday that is worthy of a great democracy. My hunch is that the country will not go backward, because that's not what Americans do."

CW: I don't agree with some of the prognosticating in Jayne Mayer's post in the New Yorker on the relative rarity of second-term presidents, but there is some content worth reading, especially this: "Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale's Vice-Presidential running mate in 1984, slugged Washington super lawyer Bob Barnett after her debate preparation."

For you football fans, BuzzFeed has videos of Obama & Romney talking sports (or in Romney's case, "sport") & football on last night's "Monday Night Football."

"Tell Mitt Romney Climate Change Isn't a Joke": This Web ad, produced by Forecast the Facts, has had 630,000+ hits. The group is not endorsing President Obama:

At least Montgomery Burns is totally behind Romney, even if Seamus imcaninators aren't:

Prof. Kevin Kruse in a New York Times op-ed: "... the Romney campaign's ... fundamental disdain for facts is something wholly new.... Win or lose, the Romney campaign has placed a big and historic bet on the proposition that facts can be ignored, more or less, with impunity." Kruse identifies four factors that have encouraged fact-abuse.

The Word According to Andy Borowitz

We're strongly opposed to FEMA and health care, but basically O.K. with rape. -- Official Republican Party Closing Argument ...

... Our argument couldn't be simpler: when God wants to create a hurricane or make a woman pregnant, big government should get out of the way. -- Reince Priebus, Republican party chair, elaborating

Zachary Roth of NBC News: aw, shucks. Chris Christie & Mitt Romney are having a little spat on election eve.

"A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow":

Now that the campaign is (mostly) over, I can reveal what Barack Obama really thinks:

Congressional Races

Eight Democratic Congressmen Who Are Class-A Jerks. A lovely slideshow by Katie McDounough of Salon. One of them, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, is running for Senate against Dick Moredick, the pregnancy-by-rape-&-divine-will guy. Their platforms, however, are pretty much the same.

Voting Problems

Chicago Tribune: "The Chicago elections website was non-functioning most of the day today, adding to the confusion among voters who didn't realize their polling sites had changed. The Chicago Board of Elections website, which voters could use to check where to vote, went down early Tuesday morning. It was functioning by about 4:00 this afternoon."

New Jersey. NorthJersey.com: "In response to widespread reports that voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy haven't received their email and fax ballots on Election Day, the state has extended the deadline for voters to return those ballots to county clerks to 8 p.m. Friday."

Florida. No Electioneering or Engineering Here. Boca News Now: poll workers in Boca Raton blocked a woman wearing an M.I.T. tee-shirt from entering the polling place because they thought she was wearing a Romney campaign shirt. The college lady was eventually allowed to vote when some poll worker figured out how to spell "Mitt."

Illinois. CW: This is a photo of the ballot a poll worker gave a voter at a South Lake Shore Drive Chicago polling place this morning. The voter, Brittney Edwards, took the photos. I am liking the choices for Cultural Commissioner, even if they are dead. Read the Chicago Tribune story:

Pennsylvania. Charles Pierce has more on the Pennsylvania poll voter obstructionists. From a news report: "An Allegheny County judge issued an order to halt electioneering outside a polling location in Homestead. County officials received a complaint shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday that Republicans outside a polling location on Maple Street in Homestead were stopping people outside the polls and asking for identification." Pierce notes that these kinds of reports have sent Chuck Todd "to the fainting couch."

New York & New Jersey. David Halbfinger, et al., of the New York Times: "People whose lives were upended by Hurricane Sandy joined other voters on Tuesday to cast ballots after elected officials in New York and New Jersey scrambled to relocate scores of polling places that had become unusable because of power failures, flooding or evacuations."

Pennslyvania. Dan Froomkin reports that Pennsylvania poll workers are turning away voters without IDs even though a court has ruled that IDs are not required in Pennsylvania for this election.

Rhode Island. AP: "Rhode Islanders were facing long lines and, in at least two polling places, the wrong ballots as they began voting Tuesday in a hotly contested congressional race and on whether to allow the state's two slots parlors to turn into full-fledged casinos."

New Jersey. Ryan Reilly of TPM: "Superstorm Sandy is having a devastating effect on voting in New Jersey, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law executive director Barbara Arnwine told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday morning. Voters were being asked for I.D. even though the state has no law requiring it, voting locations opened late and some locations didn't have ballots, she said. 'In a word, there's just one word to describe the experience in New Jersey, and that is catastrophe,' Arnwine said."

     ... Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "New Jersey's last-minute offer of email voting to displaced residents was greeted by concern by security experts, who warn that email offers a fast track to voter fraud. But the system may have another problem as well: County election administrators are, according to anecdotal reports, simply not responding to all requests for ballots. In two major counties, the email address advertised on the website of the county clerk is not even accepting email."

Voter Suppression
"A National Embarrassment"

Jason Sattler of the National Memo: "Democratic strategist Bob Shrum calls the several hours some voters are spending in line waiting for their right to vote a 'poll tax,' harkening to a Jim Crow-era restriction used to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes were specifically banned by the 24th Amendment."

Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker on whether or not there is a Constitutional right to vote.

NEW. AP: an Ohio judge threw out a lawsuit claiming that "experimental" software recently placed on Ohio's vote-tabulating machines -- could alter vote counts. CW: Um, they will be using flash drives to transfer vote-count data. No room for data manipulation there. Holy shit! ...

... AND Mark Warren of Esquire: Ohio Gov. & former Fox "News" guy John Kasich (R) says Romney will win Ohio by 50,000 votes. CW: I wonder if Kasich is the guy holding the flash drive.

NEW. Joseph of Plunderbund: Tea Party-backed "election observers" of True the Vote, who planned to concentrate their "observations" on heavily-African American voting districts in Ohio, "will not be allowed in Franklin County, Ohio, polling locations because the local elections board discovered that True the Vote had forged some signatures on their qualifying forms. ...

     ... Update: The Columbus Dispatch has the story now.

Libertarian Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic: "Hours-long election lines stretching many city blocks are a national embarrassment. And those responsible should be condemned across ideological lines. In Florida and Ohio, state officials arranged things such that citizens had to stand in line for hours to cast their ballot. Asked to extend early voting so that casting a ballot might be a bit less burdensome, they refused. It's an outrage."

NEW. Tim Padgett of Time: Gov. Rick "Scott and the Florida GOP can hand us all the disingenuous reasons they want for reducing early-voting days, including their favorite canard: cracking down on voter fraud. But their real impetus was to reduce Democratic turnout, because Democrats tend to do more early voting than Republicans -- and because they gave Obama a 9-point lead among early in-person voters in 2008.... [Although Scott, et al., have succeeded in bringing early voting down from the 2008 level by almost 10 percent,] Democratic voters, who outnumbered Republicans 46% to 36% in early in-person voting this year, seem to have widened their 2008 lead."

NEW. SEIU: "After receiving information indicating that the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the Pittsburgh Tea Party may be systematically sending poll watchers to predominantly African American precincts in Pittsburgh, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Common Cause, The Advancement Project, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the ACLU, together with a number of local community groups, sent a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, who is responsible for enforcing the Voting Rights Act, asking that the Justice Department 'make every effort to ensure that voters at these targeted locations are able to cast their ballots freely and fairly' and also to ask the Pennsylvania Republican Party about the source of its lists and the basis of its targeting."

Dan Froomkin has an overview of ongoing voter suppression efforts.

What a Difference a State Makes. David Halbfinger, et al., of the New York Times: "Elected officials in New York and New Jersey scrambled Monday to enable displaced citizens to vote in the election on Tuesday, relocating scores of coastal polling places that had become unusable because of power failures, flooding or evacuations. New Jersey and New York both said they would allow voters uprooted by Hurricane Sandy to cast provisional ballots anywhere in their states."

Laboratories of Democracy, Etc.

Abby Rapoport of American Prospect highlights a few if the low lights running for re-election in state legislatures.

Frank Bruni: same-sex marriage opponents trot out the same tired, discredited arguments -- the gays are recruiting your kids, and other fear-mongering oldies. ...

... Josh Voorhees of Slate has some polling on how the gay marriage ballot initiatives may fare.

Reeferendum:

The Home Front

Matt Glassman has some wise & foolish advice for how to spend today -- and tonight. Via Greg Sargent. Do feel free to contribute you own advice, voting experience, whatever.

News Lede

AP: "Gunmen shot and killed the brother of Syria's parliament speaker as he drove to work in the capital Damascus on Tuesday, the state-run news agency reported on Tuesday. Mohammed Osama Laham, brother of Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham, was killed in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan...." CW: excuse me, their names are Osama & Jihad??? I am thinking these are not the Pro-America Laham Brothers.

Monday
Nov052012

The Real America Is Not Pro-America

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000. A broad mandate this is not. -- Jim Vandehei & Mike Allen of Politico

Think about that. Josh Marshall of TPM did. He helpfully translates the Politico writers' meaning into plain English: "Obama’s winning but not with the best votes. I mean really, if you can’t win with a broad cross-section of white people, can you really be said to represent the country? Really."

So get this, people. If you're Hispanic, African-American, a single woman anywhere or a highly-educated urban white, you are not a full-fledged citizen. Maybe, you know, your vote shouldn't  count as much as a white person's vote. Perhaps 3/5ths of a vote is all you deserve. Surely, the belief that Vandehei and Allen toss out helps explain why Republican leaders feel comfortable and justified in suppressing the votes of blacks, Hispanics, students and urban voters.

The Politico writers are simply expressing, in a slightly different way, what Sarah Palin meant in 2008 when she told (white) North Carolinians they lived in "the real America" and the "pro-America areas of this great nation."

There is a particular irony to this line of thinking which anyone who has lived in the American South or in parts of the West knows. White Southerners are Southerners first and Americans second. Many of them are still fighting the Civil War. They resent the North, and they express this resentment in their loathing of the federal government. A hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, the federal government is still a powerful agent of suppression. It wasn't just the war, it wasn't just Reconstruction; it was Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Acts, the Voting Rights Acts, Title IX. It's "liberal judges," it's the EEOC, it's the Clean Air Act, it's OSHA, it's Lilly Ledbetter, it's ObamaCare. The South still believes in states' rights; Southerners and Westerners are Tenthers because they are not pro-America. They want their independence. That standard Republican line, "We don't want Washington telling us ... (fill in the blank)" resonates with these people.

Racism, xenophobia, Tentherism, gun obsession, anti-abortion activism -- and sexism in general, rumblings about secession -- are all symptoms, not causes, of "Real" America's hatred of the United States of America. These pathologies express a sense of powerlessness and a core belief that the federal government, in particular, is sapping white American men of their God-given right to do whatever they want. The Tea Party reveres Early America because in those times, certain men of certain European stock had a monopoly on power. (It never occurs to the Tea Partiers, of course, that the majority of them do not come from that same stock. They assume, wrongly, that they have the right stuff. Why women belong to the Tea Party baffles me; it might be ignorance of history [see Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann], it might be Stockholm Syndrome.)

The only part of the federal government these "Real" Americans support is the military. Why that is should be obvious: the purpose of the military, in their eyes, is to gain dominion over all of the second-class citizens of the world; that is, Anybody But Us.

Some will see another irony in "Real" Americans' hatred of the federal government: that is that red states, generally, get more back from the federal government than they put into it, something New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie alluded to last week. This really is not so ironic when you look at it from the point of view of a Real American: (1) I deserve it, and (2) I resent it. There's a general belief that people are grateful for favors. A lot of us are. But that gratitude often turns into resentment. We "owe" our benefactor. That gives him a certain power over us. Add to that the likelihood that the benefactor was more powerful in the first place: he was able to do a favor because he had some power we didn't have. In fact, often he continues to exert that power. Yeah, I was glad the boss hired me, but now he's making me jump through hoops. Yeah, I was glad the bank gave me a loan that I barely qualified for; now I'm paying usurious interest. Yeah, the government gave me food stamps when I was out of a job; now that I'm back at work they're taxing the hell out of me.

The Republican party is awfully good at tapping into that resentment, and they're good at it because the party leaders share it. Those whom they don't resent, they despise. They are all about power, power they believe they deserve. When the Romneys say its "their turn," they believe it. They resent the 47 percent, and they don't think "those people" -- those irresponsible moochers -- should have equal rights. "Those people" haven't done their fair share. (Never mind that this isn't necessarily true.) When Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen imply some are more equal than others, they believe that so deeply that it doesn't occur to them not to express it as fact. The Democratic coalition -- they say -- simply does not represent Real America. So it is illegitimate.

This is birtherism writ large. During his first term, the right tried to prove President Obama was not an American. (Oddly, they never tried to prove his mother was not an American. Whether or not Obama was born in Kenya, he would still qualify for the presidency as long as he had an American parent.) This was a necessary sideshow because a lot of Real Americans voted for Obama. In this election, as the Politico writers suggest, many of those former Obama-backing Real Americans will vote for Mitt Romney. This allows Republicans to delegitimize a second Obama term in different ways. One of course will be a claim that the election was rigged. If the election is as close as polls suggest, expect voter fraud suits to pop up almost as fast as conspiracy theories. But the other way to delegitimize the election is already here, perfectly captured by Vandehei & Allen: Obama voters are illegitimate.

So, to those of us who vote for Obama, here's the word: We are all Kenyans now.

 

Sunday
Nov042012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 5, 2012

Presidential Race

Felicia Sonmez, et al., of the Washington Post: "On Monday, in the final hours of their 17-month, nearly $3 billion marathon, the two candidates and their running mates are scheduled to hold 14 events across eight states. For Republican challenger Mitt Romney, this last full day of campaigning is aimed at achieving what he has seemingly been unable to do over the first 522 days: overcome President Obama's razor-thin but steady leads in the states where the election will be decided. On Sunday, it appeared that Romney's task was getting a little harder."

Michael Shear of the New York Times on what the candidates did on the longest day. ...

... Here's a clip of President Obama speaking in Concord, New Hampshire:

... AND here's the Hon. Paul Ryan to remind us all that we have a Kenyan Muslim president. Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Paul Ryan squeezed in time on a four-stop, five-state day for a conference call with evangelical voters Sunday evening, issuing a warning about a second Obama term saying the president is putting the country on a 'dangerous path' that compromises 'Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values.' Evangelical leader Ralph Reed's influential group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, hosted the call and Reed said 'tens of thousands' of Evangelical Christians were listening in." ...

... Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama's campaign is mobilizing a massive get-out-the-vote effort aimed at carrying the Democrat to victory, as Republican Mitt Romney makes a late play for votes in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania. Obama was closing out the campaign with an apparent edge in some key battleground states, including Ohio. But both campaigns were predicting wins in Tuesday's election." ...

... David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "Aboard Air Force One from Concord, Mass., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Obama called Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts." ...

... "Obama Should Resign!" Josh Voorhees of Slate: Meanwhile, with Chris Christie sidelined by his bromance with Barack, Mitt Romney has found a new attack dog in Rudy Nineleven Giuliani.

Felicia Sonmez & David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "A new poll from the Pew Research Center found Obama with a three-point lead over Romney nationwide. Less than a week earlier, the same poll had the two candidates tied at 47 percent. But, by Sunday, Obama was ahead, 48 percent to 45 percent." (The multi-page feature at the WashPo still isn't working.) ...

... Reuters has the candidates in a dead heat: Obama 48, Romney 47. The poll also shows Obama with slim leads or ties in battleground states. ...

... Nancy Cordes of CBS News: "... as early voting figures pour in from half a dozen crucial battleground states, Obama campaign officials are exuding increasing confidence, even for them."

... Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun: "It would be very difficult for Obama to lose Nevada, especially because I think more than two-thirds of the vote is in, so whatever turnout advantage the GOP has on Tuesday won't be enough. Obama, 50 percent; Romney, 46 percent; others and 'none of the above,' 4 percent."

... Think Nate Silver is an Obama supporter? Think again:

... Nate Silver: "It appears that President Obama is likely to go into Election Day with a very modest lead in the average of national polls." There Silver goes again, padding the numbers of the candidate who would be, at best, his third choice for president. What is a conspiracy theorist to do? ...

... Maggie Haberman & Emily Schultheis of Politico: "If [Romney pollster Neil] Newhouse is right, the majority of public pollsters will have egg on their faces."

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "... the Florida Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit early Sunday to force the state government to extend early voting hours in South Florida." Read the whole post. What a mess! ...

... CW: here's what I'm talkin' about. Judd Legum of Think Progress: "Last night, voters in Miami-Dade County, [Florida,] were forced to wait in line up to six hours to vote. In some precincts voters who arrived at 7PM were not able to cast their ballots until 1AM. In response, Republican-affiliated election officials in Miami-Dade have effectively extended early voting from 1PM to 5PM today by allowing 'in-person' absentee voting. But this accommodation will only be available in a single location in the most Republican area of the county." (Italics mine.)

... Andre Tartar of New York: "'Let the people vote' former Florida governor -- and former Republican -- Charlie Crist tweeted, presumably to current governor Rick Scott, who ignored pleas from Democrats and even members of his own party to extend the early voting window." ...

... Adam Estes Clark of the Atlantic has a good post on the Florida early voting fiasco, too. One thing: the three counties where the mess is worst comprise 32 percent of all the state's Democratic voters. ...

... More from Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post. ...

... Here's the Miami Herald story on "The Debacle in Doral."

Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times: "In labor's last-minute campaign efforts, canvassers in Eau Claire, Kenosha, La Crosse, Racine, Green Bay and other [Wisconsin] communities carried the same message: Do not forget to vote, and when you do, cast ballots for President Obama and Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate for senator."

Monica Davey & Michael Wines of the New York Times on the get-out-the-vote efforts in Ohio.

A Fox Detroit poll, reported Sunday, shows Romney & Obama in a dead heat in Michigan. CW: Nate Silver has Obama with a 98.8% chance of winning Michigan. (Click on Michigan on the map on the right side of the page.)

Bill Clinton writes an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, countering the paper's endorsement of Rmoney. Paul Ryan endorses himself in the same paper.

Mark Leibovich of the New York Times on Bill Clinton's latest resurrection: "Whoever wins Tuesday, the 2012 campaign has solidified (or restored) Mr. Clinton's status as the hardest-working man in a game he loves and plays like no one else."

Paul Krugman expands on an earlier blogpost about Republican incompetence & Democratic competence to handle disaster relief: "For the response to Sandy, like the success of the auto bailout, is a demonstration that Mr. Obama's philosophy of government -- which holds that the government can and should provide crucial aid in times of crisis -- works. And conversely, the contrast between Sandy and Katrina demonstrates that leaders who hold government in contempt cannot provide that aid when it is needed." ...

... CW: I just watched "Seal Team 6." I hope a lot of undecided voters did, too. It certainly reinforces Krugman's point. Maybe Romney has it on the TiVo for playback Wednesday when we can all hope he has nothing else to do.

** David Corn of Mother Jones: "... the 2012 campaign has been profoundly shaped by Romney's willingness to obfuscate and dissemble far beyond the admittedly low norm of modern American politics.... The Republican presidential candidate built much of his campaign on basic untruths about the president. Romney blasted Obama for breaking a 'promise' to keep unemployment below 8 percent. He claimed the president was 'apologizing for America abroad.' He accused Obama of adding 'nearly as much debt as all the previous presidents combined' and of cutting $500 million from Medicare. None of this was true. (See here, here, here, and here.) ... As significant as Tuesday's outcome will be for this much-divided nation in determining future policies regarding the economy, present and future wars, abortion rights, climate change, the social safety net, and much more, it will also provide an answer to a critical bottom-line question: In politics, does reality matter?"

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "The gap between what Obama and Romney believe -- and between what each man proposes to do -- is larger than it has been for any election I can remember." CW: If you're not happy about voting for Obama, read Cohn on "The Most Important Election of Our Lives."

Peter Wallsten & Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney has largely avoided discussing the details of his Mormon faith throughout this year's presidential race.... But the revival this week of a testy 2007 interview caught on video offers a reminder of the struggles Romney has confronted as a politician wary of being defined, or confined, by his faith. The video, which has become an Internet sensation in the closing days of his campaign..., shows Romney sparring off-air with an Iowa radio talk show host over the tenets and beliefs of Mormonism -- including a discussion of abortion and the second coming of Jesus Christ -- and scolding the interviewer for bringing it up." ...

... Here's the video. It has almost a million-&-a-half hits. When I looked at it the other day -- after a reader called it to my attention -- it had about half that number of hits. Romney does seem somewhat unglued:

Dave Weigel of Slate: Obama's super PAC ads are better than Romney's super PAC ads. CW: wonder if that's because billionaires & multimillionaires like Karl Rove aren't all that good at relating to real people. They figure it's just as good to plug in an actress pretending to be a Real Housewife of White America & saying she's worried about scary Republican talking points. ...

... Byron Tau of Politico: "The Obama campaign has purchased banner ad space at almost twenty national and local websites on the eve of Tuesday's election.... The campaign has also targeted swing state newspaper websites and Latino-specific sites."

Remember Seamus. Kerry Lauerman, writing in Salon, asks animal experts how the Romneys' dog felt about his infamous trip to Canada in a crate atop the family station wagon. The story also includes details about the Life of Seamus which I didn't know: like, for some odd reason, he ran away from home a lot.

Will Farrell will do anything to get you to vote -- for Obama:

Congressional Races

Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: the campaign of Connecticut's U.S. Senate GOP candidate Linda Wrestling Lady McMahon has been distributing "doorhangers that Democrats say they've discovered in minority neighborhoods this weekend ... [which read] 'Vote Barack Obama For President and Vote Linda McMahon For U.S. Senate.' ... It's a surprising suggestion from a Republican who, along with her husband, has given $150,000 to help make Romney the next president of the United States." A spokesperson for McMahon "alleged that [Democratic candidate Chris] Murphy's campaign 'is telling people that it's illegal to split their ticket,' and that was the reason for the McMahon doorhangers. The Murphy campaign called the claim 'ridiculous' and 'desperate.'" Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. Obama cut this ad for Murphy:

Some brief testimonials for Elizabeth Warren:

Other Stuff

What Did He Know & When Did He Know It? Matthew Purdy of the New York Times examines the role of former BBC chief Mark Thompson in squelching the BBC's Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal. Thompson will become New York Times CEO next Monday.

News Ledes

New York Times: "The gas shortage that has strained the New York region seemed to ease on Monday as lines at many pumps shrank, more gas stations reopened and mandatory rationing was enforced in some areas."

New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated his willingness to attack the Iranian nuclear program without support from Washington or the world, returning to an aggressive posture that he had largely abandoned since his United Nations speech in September."

Reuters: "The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline took its biggest drop since 2008 in the past two weeks, due to lower crude oil prices, a big price drop in pump prices in California and Hurricane Sandy, according to a widely followed survey released on Sunday." CW: looks like an Obama plot to me.

Reuters: "Five bombs exploded in the heart of the Bahraini capital Manama on Monday, killing two people, officials said, in rare attacks targeting civilians during the 21-month-old uprising against the kingdom's U.S.-backed rulers."

Saturday
Nov032012

The Commentariat -- Nov. 4, 2012

This is the end of daylight savings time tonight. It’s Mitt Romney’s favorite time of year because he gets to turn the clock back. -- Joe Biden, at a campaign stop in Colorado yesterday

Presidential Race

CW: For poll-o-phobes, here are two of my least favorite political "analysts," Dan Balz & Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, reading popular polls: "... President Obama holds a narrow advantage over Mitt Romney in the crucial contest for the electoral votes needed to win the White House, even as national polls continue to show the candidates in a virtual tie for the popular vote. In Congress, despite record levels of disapproval with the institution, voters seem likely to opt for the status quo -- Democrats in charge of the Senate and Republicans in the House." This bit is interesting: "Almost half of all Americans said Obama's hurricane response would be a factor in their vote.... An earlier survey found that 79 percent rated his handling of the situation excellent or good." This, too: "For the first time in the Post-ABC poll, independent voters are evenly split between the two candidates, at 46 percent each. Until now, Romney has held an advantage ranging from three to 20 points." ...

... Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: "President Barack Obama heads toward Election Day with an apparent lead over Republican Mitt Romney among early voters in key states that could decide the election.... More than 27 million people already have voted in 34 states and the District of Columbia. No votes will be counted until Election Day but several battleground states are releasing the party affiliation of people who have voted early. So far, Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio.... Republicans have the edge in Colorado, which Obama won in 2008.... Romney's campaign aides say they are doing so much better than [John] McCain did four years ago that Romney is in great shape to overtake Obama in many of the most competitive states.... About 35 percent of voters are expected to cast ballots before Tuesday, either by mail or in person."

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's final polls of the 2012 election cycle in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin find Barack Obama favored to win both states, although by margins a good deal closer than he won them by in 2008. In Pennsylvania Obama leads 52-46, while in Wisconsin his advantage is 51-48." ...

... Then there's this from Dustin Hawkins of the despicable Breitbart News: "The final Susquehanna Polling & Research Poll [of Pennsylvania voters] shows a 47-47% tie heading into the Tuesday election. Romney is seen slightly more favorable (+4) than Obama (+1). Adding to Romney's advantage is that an overwhelming 71% place economic and fiscal issues as their top concern, and 56% believe the nation is headed on the wrong track. Romney campaigns in Pennsylvania Sunday afternoon." CW: posts like this, which mislead readers, are why -- if Obama wins -- the wingnut populace will be working overtime to cook up & distribute election-stealing stories. ...

... Jensen of PPP: "PPP's final Minnesota poll of the 2012 election cycle finds Barack Obama leading comfortably, 53-45. We've conducted four surveys of the state since Labor Day and found Obama leading by a margin in the 7-10 point range on each of them." ...

... Then there's this from Alexander Burns of Politico: "Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are separated by just 1 point in Minnesota, effectively making the race there a toss-up, according to polling taken for the conservative American Future Fund." Romney - 46%; Obama -- 45%.

Chris Rock urges white people to vote for the white president. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link to this very funny bit:

     ... CW: when I was canvassing for Obama in 2008 & came upon a typical redneck voter who wasn't sure it was a good idea to vote for the black guy, I used Chris Rock's tack -- only I wasn't as funny. I think it may have worked in some cases. ...

... Kyle Leighton of TPM: "Since Oct. 28, a national tracking poll by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling has shown Obama's job approval making a net gain of 6 percentage points.... During the same period, Romney's favorability has dropped by a net 7 points."

Today's Horror Story. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Representative Paul D. Ryan may have largely disappeared from the national spotlight down the campaign homestretch, ceding attention to Mitt Romney. But if the Republican ticket prevails, Mr. Ryan plans to come back roaring, establishing an activist vice presidency that he said would look like Dick Cheney's under President George W. Bush."

Miss Andrist, a/k/a Maureen Dowd, lets all the boys have it again this week.

Vice President Biden explains the Romney-Ryan plan for seniors. Show this to your Republican friends & relatives in the 50-plus age group:

Nicholas Kristof is worth reading because he lists some of Mitt Romney's anti-woman policies, but this is by no means a catalog. Romney is worse than Kristof lets on.

Seth Meyers interviews Mitt Romney:

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The shrinking electoral battleground has altered the nature of American self-governance. There is evidence that the current system is depressing turnout, distorting policy, weakening accountability and effectively disenfranchising the vast majority of Americans."

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "... as perhaps the best-known Mormon after the Republican presidential candidate and a major influence on evangelical Christians, [Glenn] Beck has emerged as an unlikely theological bridge between the first Mormon presidential nominee and a critical electorate."

Voter Suppression

Outlaw Rules. Andrew Cohen of the Atlantic: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) is ignoring a court order that the state count provisional ballots which pollworkers fail to ensure are properly completed. Cohen writes, "Folks, the legal fight for Ohio's votes is already here and here to stay." (Italics original.) Andrew Welsh-Huggins of the AP has more.

... Even more detail from Joy-Ann Reid of the Grio. CW: this isn't just voter suppression. It's racist voter suppression.

... CW: as I've said before, Obama needs a big advantage in Ohio to beat the criminals who are determined to discard legal votes. According to the polls, Obama's lead is narrow, perhaps too narrow to overcome the illegal shenanigans of state officials. ...

... As Darrel Rowland of the Columbus Dispatch reports, "The final Dispatch Poll shows Obama leading 50 percent to 48 percent in the Buckeye State. However, that 2-point edge is within the survey’s margin of sampling error, plus or minus 2.2 percentage points." (The good news: "Sen. Sherrod Brown is besting GOP state Treasurer Josh Mandel by 6 points, 51percent to 45 percent.") ...

... Rosalind Helderman & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Democrats fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won to keep Ohio polls open to all voters this weekend, and they were making the most of it in this Democratic stronghold Saturday.... The Ohio secretary of state's office said Saturday that, statewide, 1.6 million people had voted by mail or in person as of Friday, a figure that puts the state on track to top 2008 early-vote tallies.... A study released last month by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law ... found that black voters -- who overwhelmingly favor Obama -- used early in-person voting at approximately 26 times the rate of white voters." ...

... BY CONTRAST -- AP: "New Jersey will allow residents displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote by email or fax. Officials announced Saturday that registered voters can vote electronically. A resident must submit a mail-in ballot application by fax or email to the local county clerk." CW: New Jersey is a Democratic-leaning state with a Republican secretary of state/lieutenant governor. Keep making New Jersey jokes, people. It's a lot more civilized than the tyrannical State of Ohio. Middle American virtues? My ass.

New York Times Editors: "This year, voting is more than just the core responsibility of citizenship; it is an act of defiance against malicious political forces determined to reduce access to democracy.... Even now, many Republicans are assembling teams to intimidate voters at polling places, to demand photo ID where none is required, and to cast doubt on voting machines or counting systems whose results do not go their way." ...

... Virginia Election Protection Coalition: "... today [we] released new training materials obtained from Texas-based True the Vote that reveal the organization has been misleading Virginia volunteers on state election law and voting procedures." Via the NYT editors.

... Dara Kam & John Lantigua of the Palm Beach Post: "The Republican attorney who engineered the 2000 Florida felons list, which African American leaders said purged thousands of eligible blacks from voter rolls in the state and helped swing that election to the GOP, also wrote the first draft of Florida's controversial House Bill 1355 that has restricted early voting and voter registration campaigns in 2012. [He is] Emmett 'Bucky' Mitchell IV, former senior attorney for the Florida Division of Elections, now in private practice in Tallahassee and serving as general counsel for the Florida GOP.... Mitchell left the Division of Elections -- where he worked under Secretary of State Katherine Harris -- shortly after the 2000 election." CW: The whole story is disgusting. Via the NYT editors.

Other Stuff

Mayor Bloomberg & Gov. Christie update residents on storm cleanup:

Corporate Welfare on a Grand Scale. Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: "Dodd-Frank actually widened the federal safety net for big institutions. Under that law, eight more giants were granted the right to tap the Federal Reserve for funding when the next crisis hits. At the same time, those eight may avoid Dodd-Frank measures that govern how we're supposed to wind down institutions that get into trouble."

Hope Mitt Romney gets a cameo in this, where he says he didn't think it was worth devoting a lot of effort to nabbing bin Laden. The film premieres on the National Geographic Channel tonight at 8 pm ET:

Nick Anderson of the Washington Post: "'Massive open online courses,' or MOOCs, have caught fire in academia. They offer, at no charge to anyone with Internet access, what was until now exclusive to those who earn college admission and pay tuition. Thirty-three prominent schools, including the universities of Virginia and Maryland, have enlisted to provide classes via Coursera.... And higher education's elite is in the vanguard.... MOOC students, for the most part, aren't earning credit toward degrees.... Exactly how MOOC platforms will make money without charging tuition remains to be seen."

News Ledes

New York Times: "An Israeli news channel reported Sunday night that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak asked the Israeli military in 2010 to prepare for an imminent attack on the Iranian nuclear program, but that their efforts were blocked by concerns over whether the military could do so and whether the men had the authority to give such an order."

New York Times: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg "said at least 20,000 people live in homes that were so severely damaged by the storm surge that they were uninhabitable. Relocating those residents, he said, will be a daunting task."

New York Times: "Several hundred of the Chinese Communist Party's top leaders decided Sunday on a raft of measures that pave the way for a once-in-a-decade leadership transition scheduled to start this week. Among its decisions, the party's Central Committee endorsed the expulsion of the disgraced politician Bo Xilai from the party and promoted two military leaders." CW: this is how "elections" work in China.

Washington Post: "Gun battles shut down a neighborhood of central Tripoli on Sunday, as militias loyal to the government battled another militia that they said had gone rogue. The clashes, which included the exchange of machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, underscored the shakiness of Libya's security even within the confines of the capital, where the country's security forces are headquartered." CW: hey, so far no gun battles between the candidates' supporters, either. Who says the U.S. isn't exceptional?

Washington Post: "New Jersey imposed a form of gas rationing Saturday and New Yorkers overwhelmed temporary gas stations set up by the military as exasperated residents of the storm-damaged metropolitan region formed long lines to get gas for their cars and generators. Officials in New York offered 10 gallons of free gas per person, but so many people showed up they had to plead with the public to hold off until first responders could refill their tanks."

Reuters: "Victims of superstorm Sandy on the East Coast struggled against the cold on Sunday amid fuel shortages and power outages.... Fuel supplies were rumbling toward disaster zones and a million customers regained electricity as near-freezing temperatures descended on the U.S. Northeast overnight. But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned the city that it would be days before power was fully restored and fuel shortages ended."

Reuters: "Hundreds of runners in New York City are refusing to let a canceled marathon spoil their Sunday plans and are channeling months of preparation into informal runs intended to benefit victims of superstorm Sandy."