Glenn Kessler has a fascinating timeline on the Obama administration's shifting remarks about the source of the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11. Kessler calls it "a case study of how an administration can carefully keep the focus as long as possible on one storyline -- and then turn on a dime when it is no longer tenable."
Glenn Greenwald highlights some of the worst findings of a new academic report on the Obama administration's drone program. It should make you sick. ...
... Charles Pierce: the report contains "the testimony of the people on whom we are currently waging a war, a war of choice, as much as the war in Iraq was, and a war as unilateral as any we have ever fought, and a war that is more the result of one man's decisions than any other in our history." ...
... The report is here.
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack-Up," 1936
... Holding two opposing views of Barack Obama, or any president, is the only way to function. -- Constant Weader, Cracked Up, 2012
Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "President Obama will head to Henderson, Nev., on Sunday for three days of debate prep behind closed doors, ABC News has learned. While he is there he will also hold one grassroots rally and likely make some unscheduled local stops in the evening, a campaign official said."
Alexander Burns of Politico: "In a new commercial that has the feeling of a closing argument, President Barack Obama outlines a four-point agenda to restore 'economic patriotism,' moving to crystallize a positive economic message for the last weeks of the campaign":
... AND the Obama campaign is running this "attack" ad. Greg Sargent calls the ad "brutal," but the "brutality" is all Willard in His Own Words:
Byron Wolf of ABC News: "Mitt Romney took part in three network TV interviews Wednesday night that veered in wildly different directions. With ABC, Romney addressed polls that show him trailing President Obama, with NBC he promoted the Massachusetts health law that was a model for the national law he has pledged to repeal, and with CBS he accused the Obama administration of 'character assassination.' Addressing polls, Romney told ABC's David Muir that 'Frankly at this early stage, polls go up, polls go down.' And he pointed to the first presidential debate - one week from tonight - as a potential turning point in the race."
Frank Rich's thoughts on the campaign are always amusing.
Suddenly, Mitt Gets Real
Don't be expecting a huge cut in taxes, because I'm also going to lower deductions and exemptions. -- Mitt Romney, campaigning in Ohio Wednesday
Romney has been pledging that he will cut taxes for all Americans by 20 percent. -- Igor Volsky, Think Progress
Update: Romney now has three tax policies, each of which is totally different from the others. -- Matt Yglesias, Slate
Update Update: "Even as studies expose potential flaws with his tax plan, Mitt Romney is shutting down rumblings that his campaign is hedging on the notion that he can slash tax rates by 20 percent without lowering revenues. -- Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo
So, um, I guess this means Romney is going back to Plan 1, which is mathematically impossible. But magic! -- Constant Weader
Suddenly, Mitt's Got Empathy
I think throughout this campaign as well, we talked about my record in Massachusetts, don't forget -- I got everybody in my state insured. One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don't think there's anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record. -- Mitt Romney, talking to Ron Allen of NBC News Wednesday
Too bad he promises to spending Day 1 of his presidency "repealing ObamaCare," the national version of the Massachusetts plan. I guess empathy ends at the Oval Office door. -- Constant Weader
Here's Mitt's Reboot 5.7. This is the kindlier, gentler Mitt. Greg Sargent says the 60-second spot "will begin airing at full throttle in all of Romney's media markets in nine swing states, and it will be the only Romney ad running in them" except some Spanish-language ads in Florida.
... Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "The 60-second ad, 'Too Many Americans,' was Mr. Romney's most aggressive effort to clean up the fallout from his secretly videotaped remarks at a May fund-raiser, where he called voters who do not pay income tax 'victims' who are dependent on the government and feel 'entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.' But the ad came nine days after the video surfaced, a period in which Democrats have bashed Mr. Romney over the remarks, leaving him on the defensive in swing states like Ohio." ...
... ** Garance Franke-Ruta of the Atlantic: in the ad, Romney looks directly into the camera to give the impression he is speaking to voters, heart-to-heart. Then he says, "President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them." Yeah? Them? "Mitt Romney keeps talking about the people whose votes he needs as 'them.' In the 47 percent video, it was 'those people.' ... But presidential elections are always about the grand national us.... And when it come to a candidate, they are about me and you.... The problem with Romney's campaign is ... an approach to talking to and about people in a way that is othering, rather than empathetic.... If Romney wasn't talking to [middle/working-class voters] -- and by his language he made clear that he was not -- who was he talking to?" ...
... Steve Benen: saying "you" instead of "them" "would require Mr. Car Elevator to see himself as a man of the people. He doesn't, and even in scripted ads, he doesn't know how to pretend, either.... As much as anything any factor, this helps explain why Romney's losing." ...
... The Democratic National Committee responds. Unfortunately, this is just a Web video. It should run back-to-back with Romney's ad:
... Maybe this breaking report from Andy Borowitz explains the "them" thing: "With just forty-three days to go until the election, Mitt Romney is in a race against time to offend the few voters he has not already alienated, his campaign manager said today."
Missed this one. Jon Stewart compares Willard with Charlie, the protagonist in Flowers for Algernon:
... I hesitate to link this opinion piece by Fareed Zakaria because it's one big apology for Mitt Romney. But Zakaria does have a point -- if you can get past the love-letter part -- that Romney can't say anything substantive because it will cost him the votes from the denizens of Right Wing World. ...
... Reid Wilson of the National Journal: "The reinvention of the Republican Party that has been underway since the end of Bush's term is far from complete. Romney's loss would make the violence of the internal struggle all the more dramatic; it would steal influence from those arguing for a middle path, and hand influence to the conservative factions already on the ascent. We ain't seen nothing yet."
Winner, Dan Quayle Prize. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Don't feed fish. -- Paul Ryan, at a campaign stop in Ohio
Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "As the presidential campaigns step up the pace of their multimillion-dollar spending sprees, President Obama has a little-noticed strategic advantage that gives him more control over the money he has raised. While Mitt Romney relies heavily on massive amounts of cash held by the Republican Party and interest groups, Obama has more funds in his own campaign coffers. That allows him to make decisions about where and how to spend the money and to take better advantage of discounted ad rates, which candidates receive under federal law. In one Ohio ad buy slated to run just before the election, for example, Obama is paying $125 for a spot that is costing a conservative super PAC $900." CW: so -- at least in this particular example -- for every dollar you give to the Obama campaign, the Koch boys have to spend more than $7 to match it. Surely Republicans will fix that glitch before the next election cycle.
New York Times: "Sixteen days after the death of four Americans in an attack on a United States diplomatic mission here, fears about the near-total lack of security have kept F.B.I. agents from visiting the scene of the killings and forced them to try to piece together the complicated crime from Tripoli, more than 400 miles away."
New York Times: "The man thought to have been behind the crude anti-Islam video that set off deadly protests across the Muslim world in recent weeks was arrested Thursday for violating terms of his probation in a 2010 bank fraud case.... Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was ordered held without bond during an appearance in United States District Court [in Los Angeles] Thursday evening."
Bibi Reads the U.S. Presidential Polls. New York Times: "In his speech at the annual U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu dramatically illustrated his intention to shut down Iran's nuclear program by drawing a red line through a cartoonish diagram of a bomb. But the substance of his speech suggested a softening of what had been a difficult dispute with the Obama administration on how to confront Iran over its nuclear program."
Los Angeles Times: "The University of California will pay damages of $30,000 to each of the 21 UC Davis students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed by campus police during an otherwise peaceful protest 10 months ago, the university system announced Wednesday."
AP: "Mexico appeared to strike a major blow against one faction of the hyper-violent Zetas cartel, with the navy announcing it has captured one of the country's most-wanted drug traffickers, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as 'El Taliban.'"
Reuters: "A Pennsylvania judge may rule as early as Thursday on whether to block a voter identification law that could influence turnout in a key swing state in the U.S. presidential election."
New York Times: "The National Football League reached agreement on an eight-year labor deal with its game officials late Wednesday night, effectively ending a lockout that forced unprepared replacement officials onto the field, creating three weeks of botched calls, acute criticism, furious coaches and players, and a blemish -- however temporary -- on the integrity of the country's most popular sport."
Reuters: "More than 300 people were killed in Syria on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, in one of the bloodiest days in the 18-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad." ...
... New York Times: "Syria's antigovernment fighters have succeeded in laying siege to the heavily fortified Abu ad Duhur Air Base. They have downed at least two of the base's MIG attack jets. And this month they have realized results few would have thought possible. Having seized ground near the base's western edge, from where they can fire onto two runways, they have forced the Syrian Air Force to cease flights to and from this place."
New York Times: "Andy Williams, the affable, boyishly handsome crooner who defined both easy listening and wholesome, easygoing charm for many American pop music fans in the 1960s, most notably with his signature song, "Moon River," died on Tuesday night at his home in Branson, Mo. He was 84." CW: not too affable; he called President Obama a Marxist who wanted the country to fail.
ABC News: "An Army brigadier general has been charged with forcible sodomy, inappropriate relationships, and possessing alcohol and pornography while serving as a senior commander in Afghanistan earlier this year. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a deputy commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, faces a possible court martial over the charges handed down Wednesday."