Here's the latest on the polls from Nate Silver. Bad news/good news.
Matt Miller, writing in the Washington Post, has some pretty good advice for Vice President Biden on the approach Biden should take in the debate tonight.
... Paul Ryan, Authentic Goober. If Ryan looks smug & happy & Bambi looks sad to you, it's because the right-to-lifer is overjoyed he just shot Bambi dead with his little bow-and-arrow.
Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: somebody press Romney & Ryan on their Medicaid policy, please. "They ... want to reduce the money [Medicaid] gets from the federal government.... They would expose the elderly and disabled, as well their loved ones, to the kind of suffering this country spent decades trying to eradicate. Sometime tonight, or perhaps in the two remaining presidential debates, I hope the Republican nominees get a chance to explain why they think that's such a great idea." Read the whole post.
Robb Mandelbaum of the New York Times debunks Romney's debate claim that raising taxes on higher earners will cost the nation 700,000 jobs.
Meenal Vamburkar of Mediate: "In an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show on Wednesday, President Obama reflected on the first presidential debate, and pinpointed the reason for his almost-universally agreed upon lackluster performance. He was simply too polite." You can hear the full interview & read the transcript here. It's worth a listen. ...
... Betty Cracker of Balloon Juice has a follow-up to the interview in a post titled "President Obama Is Aware of All Internet Traditions." ...
Here's the Jim Fallows post which Akhilleus makes reference to in a post in today's Comments. However, it's harder to accept Fallows' analyses now that we know he's a bona fide Neanderthal (tho despite his boasting about it, apparently not all genetic scientists are convinced by "Neanderthal DNA."
CW: how can we take PolitiFact seriously when they give a Pants-on-Fire rating to President Obama for the Big Bird ad which claims Romney wants to fire Big Bird -- after Romney said he would defund PBS? PolitiFact's argument: Sesame Street has significant other sources of revenue. Oh, please.
Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Ignoring a request from the mother of one of the Navy SEALs killed last month in Libya, Mitt Romney today once again told a campaign audience of meeting with her son at a Christmas party two years ago. After Romney told his story of meeting Glen Doherty during a campaign rally yesterday, Barbara Doherty -- mother of Glen Doherty, one of the Navy SEALs killed in the Benghazi attack -- had asked Romney to stop using her son's memory to advance his political agenda." In an update, Lewison writes, "Romneyland is now trying to beat a hasty retreat.... Funny how the campaign didn't care about her wishes until the national media started asking questions." ...
... Update. Libby Denkmann of MyNorthwest.com: a close friend of Glen Doherty's says Doherty recounted his meeting(s) with Romney much differently from the story Romney has been telling on the campaign trail: according to the friend, "Mitt Romney approached [Doherty] ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale." The friend said "Doherty remembered Romney as robotic."
Calling the Race. Jonathan Easley of The Hill: "Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos, whose polls are aggregated into mainstream averages to show where the presidential race stands in the swing states, said he's finished polling in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia because President Obama has no shot of winning those states."
Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly argues -- effectively, I think -- that what moved the polls to Romney was the public perception he engendered in the debate that he was a reasonable man who wanted to fix things. What Obama & Biden must do is demonstrate -- through exposing Romney's & Ryan's records of statements & votes -- that these two guys are dangerous, far-out extremists. "... if Democrats can't mine the vast record of extremism compiled by the GOP and its ticket over the last two years, and show that it's a more shocking and uncompromising version of what the party stood for prior to 2008, then they really can't expect to win."
Michael Barbaro & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... the appearance at this late stage of a modulating Mitt Romney risks reopening a long-running debate about his authenticity, given that he has described himself as 'severely conservative,' dismissed 47 percent of voters as government dependent, and picked a bold conservative as his running mate."
Travis Waldron of Think Progress writes "The Definitive Timeline of Romney's Ever-Evolving Tax Plan." Pretty helpful. Bottom line: "At this point, it is no longer clear what tax plan Romney actually supports." ...
... Suzy Khimm: AND Romney just made his tax math fuzzier. CW: that's the idea, isn't it? ...
... Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post: "Hey, reporters! Next time you interview Mitt Romney and he repeats this formula about lower taxes for some and the same taxes for everyone else, ask him how that goes with his pledge that he won't increase the deficit with his tax plan. And while you're at it, push him on the real key question: if it turned out that his fantasy math falls short and the experts are correct, what would he give up: the big cut in rates? Tax levels for the middle class? Or revenue neutrality? It has to be one of them. Because not even Dumbledore could make Romney's basic 'principles' work."
... Thanks to Jeanne B. for sending along this rundown of Romney's positions on a woman's right to choose:
... Charles Pierce: "All Romney's doing is making the same argument theoretically that DeJarlais [see linked story by Michael McAuliff below] tried to run by his girlfriend. It's all about expediency. There are very few people who actually are pro-life.... Push most of these people to the wall, especially the Penis-Americans in the congregation, and they're dialing the clinic faster than almost anyone else. In our politics, anyway, the fight against reproductive freedom always has been a fight over women's control of their own bodies and their right to make their own health-care decisions without the meddling of Bible-banging secular hypocrites and the Clan of the Red Beanie.... Congressman DeJarlais was all right with his girlfriend's getting an abortion as long as he got to make the decision and as long as the procedure made his life a little more convenient. Romney, I assure you, would be perfectly fine if one of his boys came to him with a similar problem. He's running for office, for Pete's sake." ...
... Let's not forget Forcible-Rape Ryan:
... Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico has a moderately informative story on Whiplash Willard, the Kama Sutra Man who can change, contort & invent new positions in a day two hours. What's important to remember is that a President Willard would sign any piece of crap a conservative Congress put in front of him. And it will, sadly, be a conservative Congress. The only brief sightings of Moderate Mitt were when he was lying running for office in Massachusetts & when he was governor in that state, where a veto-proof majority of Democrats controlled the legislature. Underpinning it all is this: Willard hates your middle-class guts.
** Adele Stan of AlterNet, writing in Salon, has a terrific post titled "Nine Ways Mitt Is Morally Bankrupt." CW: I didn't know about the first one.
Gail Collins: "Maybe Democrats should try to be more like the Republicans, and reduce stress by blaming all bad news on incorrect information, cooked up by cabals of political partisans."
AND Awk-ward! John Cook of Gawker: "After we published nearly 1,000 pages of Bain Capital's confidential financial records -- including audits revealing for the first time that Bain employed a potentially illegal tax dodge currently under investigation by the New York attorney general -- we thought we might hear from the good folks at Mitt Romney's former private equity firm, perhaps asking us to take down the documents. Well, Bain finally got in touch yesterday. And they want to explore investing in Gawker Media." Um, that is, until Cook told the Bain guy about the docu-dump.
Hamilton Nolan of Gawker: David Siegel, CEO of a Florida company that builds & manages timeshares, & who is building himself a 90,000-sq.ft. house patterned after the Palace of Versailles, sent an e-mail to his employees threatening layoffs if Obama is re-elected & he has to keep paying taxes & all. Hilariously, Siegel cribbed his warning letter from a 2008 fake chain letter. Nolan writes, "Huge mansion. Huge fortune. Profitable company. What could David Siegal have to complain about? Well, the demonization of the 1% by Barack Obama, for one thing." CW: do yourself a favor & read the e-mail. Just another opportunity to remind yourself, "Hey, I'm better than a billionaire." Yes, you are. ...
... For one thing, you have way better taste, not that the chair & the dead thing on the piano aren't totally elegant:
Lynn Parramore of AlterNet, writing in Salon, has a brief overview of six billionaires obsessed with their marginal tax rates & unseating President Obama. Siegel is at the top of the list.
CW: This Story Makes Me Crazy! Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post: "A pro-life, family-values congressman who worked as a doctor before winning election as a Tea Party-backed Republican had an affair with a patient and later pressured her to get an abortion, according to a phone call transcript obtained by The Huffington Post. The congressman, Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, was trying to save his marriage at the time, according to his remarks on the call, made in September of 2000. And, according to three independent sources familiar with the call and the recording, he made the tape himself.... DesJarlais is currently leading Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart in the polls."
Emily Schultheis of Politico: "Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is out with a handful of new ads today featuring direct-to-camera appeals from female sexual assault victims in the state." Here's one:
Contributor Diane reports in today's Comments on the Warren-Brown Senate debate in Massachusetts. You can watch it here on C-SPAN. You have to click on the "Video Playlist." Martin Finucane reports for the Boston Globe on the debate. Here's a high point:
Keystone Kops Go to Congress. Dana Milbank: "When House Republicans called a hearing in the middle of their long recess, you knew it would be something big, and indeed it was: They accidentally blew the CIA's cover.... The lawmakers reminded us why 'congressional intelligence' is an oxymoron." The blabbers? Jason Chaffetz & Darrell Issa, of course. CW: By chance I saw Kelly O'Donnell's coverage of the hearing -- twice -- on NBC News, & there was nary a hint of this or of Republicans' cutting embassy security funds. People watching only TV news -- that is, most people -- don't know WTF is going on.
Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "With the future of affirmative action in higher education hanging in the balance, the grappled with two basic questions, repeated by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in various forms at least a dozen times. He wanted to know how much diversity was enough. And he wanted to know hen colleges would be able to achieve an acceptable level of diversity without using racial preferences." ...on Wednesday
... Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker: "Regardless of how the case turns out, though, it is clear that there is a political problem with contemporary affirmative action."
Juliet Macur of the New York Times reports on a just-released report that reveals Lance Armstrong was the ringleader of the U.S.P.S. cycling team's sophisticated doping ring. "At the same time the drug use was nonchalant, it also was carefully orchestrated by Armstrong, team management and team staff, the antidoping agency said. 'Mr. Armstrong did not act alone,' the [U.S. Anti-Doping] agency said in its report. 'He acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport and on his team.'" The full report is here.
Nicholas Kristof: in Pakistan & Indonesia -- and around the world -- educating girls is still controversial. ...
... Former First Lady Laura Bush, in a Washington Post op-ed, on the same subject.
Right Wing World
Katie Glueck of Politico: "Prominent conservative commentators on Wednesday largely dismissed a story that suggested ABC News' Martha Raddatz will be a biased moderator of Thursday's vice presidential debate because President Barack Obama attended her wedding two decades ago. Conservative outlet The Daily Caller accused the network of trying to 'downplay' that Obama attended Raddatz's 1991 wedding to Julius Genachowski, whom the president later named to head the Federal Communications Commission (and to whom Raddatz is no longer married). The story, which led Drudge Report on Wednesday afternoon, noted that Obama and Genachowski worked together on the Harvard Law Review." ...
... CW: Questions Raddatz plans to ask: (1) "Mr. Vice President, what is the best thing about working for my old friend President Obama --(a) that he's brilliant, (2) that he's kind-hearted or (3) that he never stops thinking of ways to improve the lives of the American people? You can choose more than one answer." (2) "Yo, Paulie, when you tell one of your habitual lies, would you prefer that I (a) turn off your mike, (2) press my "Liar! Liar" buzzer, or (3) go the dunk-tank route? You can choose more than one answer." Seems impartial to me.
Reuters: "The cost of sending a letter in the United States will go up by a penny next year.... 'Forever' stamps will cost 46 cents starting on January 27.... Consumers can use those stamps to mail 1-ounce letters anywhere in the country. As the name implies, they are always valid, even after stamp prices rise."
Bloomberg News: "Applications for jobless benefits dropped 30,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Oct. 6, the fewest since February 2008, Labor Department figures showed today." CW: notice how Bloomberg hedges on the validity of the data, which I'm thinking is the Jack Welch Effect: suddenly numbers which have been reported with anodyne commentary are somehow suspicious or can be explained away by data collection methods & seasonal changes.
New York Times: "The Swedish Academy announced on Thursday that it had awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to Chinese author Mo Yan, the cultural high point of a week of accolades to scientists, writers and peacemakers."
New York Times: "Adding to strains with Turkey over the conflict in Syria, Russia demanded an explanation on Thursday after Turkish warplanes forced a Syrian passenger plane flying from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara on suspicion of carrying military cargo." CW: I have been thinking for a week that the Turkey-Syria border skirmishes were reminiscent of the seemingly localized beginnings of World War I. Well, welcome to the conflict, Russia.
AP: "Yemeni security officials say a gunman has assassinated the Yemeni chief of security at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa. The officials say Qassem Aqlani, who was in his fifties, was shot dead while on his way to work early on Thursday. They say a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at him and fled the scene. Aqlani had been working for the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital for nearly 20 years."
Washington Post: "The proposed merger of Europe's biggest defense and aerospace contractors collapsed Wednesday after European political leaders failed to agree on terms. The combination of London-based BAE Systems and Paris-based European Aeronautic Defence and Space would have created a colossus to rival U.S. giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, as well as concerns at the Pentagon about such a huge foreign-owned contractor."