Saturday, October 6, 2012

Here's the message

Speaking to a rain-soaked crowd in Cleveland, many of whom had stood in a downpour for hours waiting to hear him, Obama said this:
"When I was elected in 2008, 47 percent of the people did not vote for me. But I didn't say, I didn't say, 'Well, I'm not going to worry about those folks.  I didn't say that. I stood in Grant Park and I looked at the camera, and I said, 'Even though you didn't vote for me, I've heard your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president too.'"
That's the president I want to have for four more years.


Republicans: Heads I win, tails you lose.

Republicans want to have it both ways.   Heads, I win;  tails, you lose.  Certainly their chosen candidate believes that.  Romney thinks he can present himself as very conservative to the primary crowd, then shake the Etch-a-Sketch and be a completely different person now to attract moderates.

Our job is to show them that you can't have it both ways.  The latest example of this is the squawking they're doing over the September jobs reportBecause it's surprisingly good, they're crying "foul."   Accusing the Obama team of cooking the books and fudging the figures.

It's true that the monthly reports are based on a bunch of approximation indicators and that they often have to be revised later as more detailed data come in.   But come on, guys.  If you accept the method when the numbers look bad for Obama -- so that you can trash him with them -- you can't then say the methodology is all wrong when the numbers look good for him -- and for the country, I might add.

As to the accusation of cooking the books.   You say it's suspicious that, one month before the election, the unemployment drops below 8% for the first time in almost four years.

Well, perhaps it really did.  It might just be good evidence that Obama's policies are beginning to pay off, right?

If you think they waited until this late date to cook the books, you're not very savvy politically.  Why would they endure two years of harsh cricitism, allowing you to poison the minds of half the population against him, and wait until now to fudge the numbers?  Wouldn't it make more sense to show a steady climb all along?

So just shut up, already.   The 7.8% is the best number the professional statisticians can come up with at this time.  It may be revised later.   It might be even lower.   After all, the number of new jobs reported for July and August have now been revised upward as more data has come in.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


Friday, October 5, 2012

A boost for Obama

The jobless rate has fallen to 7.8%, 
the lowest since Obama took office in 2009.

Every little bit of favorable news helps.


Krugman on Romney

Paul Krugman acknowledges that Romney "did well" in the debate, that is, he did well when judged as a theater performance.

But, pointing out one of Romney's many lies in the debate, Krugman says:
"[E]nough with the theater criticism.  Romney needs to be held accountable for dishonesty on a huge scale."
Amen to that, brother.


Planned obscurity

It's becoming clear now what Romney's campaign strategy is:   planned obscurity of the truth.   Say anything, then don't give details so there is no accountability.   Change what you say without acknowledging it and act as though you've been saying it all along.   Outright lie with a straight face and an aggressive manner -- and most of the people will believe you.

So . . . now, as of last night's debate, his planned obscurity about Romney/ObamaCare has come full circle.

First, he was all for it and said it could be a model for the nation.   Then he began running for president, and it didn't sit well with the right-wing Republicans.  So then he said it was right for Massachusetts but wrong for the nation.

Now he's saying that it is a "model for the nation for states to do what Masschusetts did" [ie, state by state, devise their own plan that suits them].

See, none of it actually is contradictory.   It's right for MA.  It's not right for the nation [to have a national plan].  But it is right for the nation for each state to devise it's own plan.  So:  it is both right for the nation and not right for the nation, at the same time, depending on your definition of "it."

Man, some creative word-smithing went into that spin.   It is what he has been saying all along, but I don't think he knew that's what he was saying.  He was just dissembling.  Then someone figured out how to spin it so it became clear and -- surprise !!! -- it actually has a logic.

See what I mean by planned obscurity?   But more often, he just outright lies, no creativity involved.  Like saying his health care plan will protect pre-existing conditions -- yeah, if you already have health insurance but not if you don't, which is about 89 million Americans.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The morning after debate #1

It's a strong consensus among pundits and undecided voters who were polled after the debate that Romney won pretty decisively -- and they mention his being more energetic, offering more specifics, and even appearing more empathetic to the people.

Nevermind that Romney did a good imitation of a hypomanic nerd, flailing around in order to confuse everybody listening -- clearly the chosen tactic to obscure the fact that his claims simply do not match with (a) reality or (b) mathematics or (c) what he has claimed to support before.

As Jonathan Cohn, writing for The New Republic said: 
"[I]f I knew nothing about the candidates and [if] this was my first exposure to the campaign, I’d think this Romney fellow has a detailed tax plan, wants to defend the middle class and poor, and will take care of people who can’t find health insurance."
Cohn continues, saying that the problem is that he has been following Romney's campaign, and he knows that none of those is true.
"He’s outlined a spending plan that would devastate the middle class and (particularly) the poor. And his health care plan would leave people with pre-existing conditions pretty much in the same perilous situation they were before the Affordable Care Act became law.

My standard for candor in politics is whether candidates have offered the voters an accurate portrait of what they’ve done and what they are proposing. Tonight, Romney did precisely the opposite. And that really ought to be the story everybody is writing, although I doubt it will be."
How true.

But, let's face it.  Obama was not very effective countering all this manic blather.  He was obviously thrown off by Romney's aggressive style and his changed story of what he stands for.  Typical of Mr. Etch-a-Sketch, he has shaken the box and reconfigured himself as though it's a whole new day and he's got a whole new program and approach to government.

Obama does not do well in debates when he gets angry.  (I wouldn't either.)   He needed a good bit more of Bill Clinton in him last night.    He will be better next time -- remember he was not very effective in the first debates in 2004 -- but the next one is 2 weeks away and only 3 weeks before the election.   Is that enough time to recover the slight loss in support he will get after this?

No doubt, it's going to be a close election.  We can still depend on Obama's electoral vote advantage.   I hope.


Debate #1

My initial response:   I think it depends on which one you wanted to win as to which you thought won.   It also depends on how much you know about the issues to know that much of what Romney said was pure bunk.

Romney's strategy seemed to be to throw out so much garbage that Obama couldn't possibly respond to all of it in time given;  but it made him look like he had the facts at his finger-tips and put Obama on the defensive.    For the uninformed, he might seem to have won.   How would it have been scored by debate-scoring rules?   I don't know, and that probably doesn't matter to voters anyway.

CNN had a group of undecided voters choose the winner:   Romney 46%, Obama 32%, tie 22%. 

Romney was certainly more aggressive and hyped up and also crisper in his answers -- but were they coherent?  That's the question.  He didn't make any major gaffes, although he got some facts wrong.   The errors will be pointed out in days to come, but that won't matter much to most voters.   They're used to his lies.

I'd say it was not a game-changer, but overall Romney probably helped himself, and the polls will tighten up.   This is usually what happens in the first debate with an incumbant and a challenger.

But here's why I much preferred Obama's more laid back performance.

1.  Romney was so hyped-up and aggressive that it made him grating and annoying.  His hyper state bordered on mania, and he seemed only a couple of steps away from being deranged.

2.  I want to see what the fact-checkers do with this, but I know of a lot of things that he said just are not true or contradict what he has said before.

3.  And what about his changing his so-called tax plan, which he's never really put forth as a plan -- only bits and pieces.  He's been saying for two years that he wants to cut taxes for the upper income peopleTonight he says his plan doesn't do that.   He just flat said it in contradicting what he's been saying all along.

4.  Many of his attacks on Obama were distorted or outright wrong.

5.  If you grade them on likeability, I would put Obama way ahead.   The Romney on stage tonight was even less likeable than the one we've been seeing.

The big loser tonight?   Jim Lehrer.   He didn't frame it well.  After saying it was to be on domestic policies, all of his questions were about jobs and the economy -- the areas of Obamas's vulnerability.   Not a single question about immigration, women's rights, abortion rights, gay rights, climate change, where Romney loses the voters' support.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Government handouts for the rich

A New York Times editorial yesterday focused on the handouts that rich people get from the federal government.   The same rich people, like Mitt Romney, who disdain the "47%" who are branded as "dependent on the government" and want to keep it that way.

Headlined "Mr. Romney's Government Handout," two paragraphs are worth quoting in fuill:
The biggest beneficiaries of government largesse are not those who struggle along on Social Security payments, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, or earned-income tax credits, despite what Mitt Romney has told his donors.  Rather thay are those at the highest end of the income scale:  government contractors, corporate farmers and very rich individuals who have figured out how to exploit the country's poorly written tax code for their benefit.

The latter group's most prominent member is Mr. Romney himself, whose astonishingly low tax rates are made possible by finding and using every loophole and flaw in the code.  What his tax practices show is not illegal or unethical behavior, but rather the unfairness of a tax system that provides its most outlandish benefits only for the very, very rich and savvy.  What is worse is that Mr. Romney has proposed making this prodoundly dysfunctional system even more unfair.
This is the very heart of the matter -- and exactly why Romney refuses to divulge his tax proposals or his personal tax returns.   Not that he has done anything illegal, although at least one of Bain's strategies for compensating executives (including Romney) is a gray-area tactic that is being challenged and perhaps will wind up in court.

It's that the American people would finally realize how our tax code has become something opposite to what it was meant to be.   While in principle it is a progressive tax system that diminishes the income gap, all the exemptions, loopholes, and subsidies have made it a major vehicle for increasing wealth for the already wealthy.

And Romney's policies would only increase that; and the income gap in America, which now rivals that of the Gilded Age, would only widen further.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

PA voter ID law won't apply on Nov 6

A federal judge has ruled that Pennsylvania's harsh voter ID law will not take effect for the November 6th election, but it will go into effect next year.

Perhaps it will be appealed to a higher court for overturn for future elections, but apparently this is definitive for this year.   The ruling judge sought and received guidelines for implementation from the Appeals Court  and decided that they were not being met, in terms of people getting the IDs.

That's good news.  Obama has a comfortable lead in Pennsylvania, but the law was said to effect hundreds of thousands of voters in Philadelphia alone.


Whining is not an attractive political strategy

If they can't tell the truth because it would be devastating for their poll numbers, as voters find out what they're really peddling, then I suppose blaming the opposition may be the only recourse left.   But whining is not an attractive political strategy.

Poor Paul Ryan.  That seems to be the role assigned him by the Romney camp -- go out there and make excuses for why we are behind in the polls.

So, we get:
   1.  The polls are biased against us.
   2.  The mainstream media is biased against us.  (But you've got Fox News and Rush.)
   3.  Romney was inarticulate in his 47% comment, but the point is true.
   4.  They were winning the Medicare debate until Obama started running ads that were lies about Romney's plan.
   5.  I can't go into the tax plan details because I don't have enough time (on this tv show).
   6.  I didn't go into the details because people would get bored and change channels.
   7.  Today, when pressed, he added:  "Obviously the numbers add up;  we have shown that."  (No, they haven't.  And even within the campaign, they seem confused about it, giving various principles of the plans without the details.)

Come on, guys.   You have a choice.   Tell the truth yourselves, if you want it out there.  Give us the details of your tax plan.  We're all ears.   The journalists and bloggers will devour the details in no time.

And Romney was not "inarticulate" about the 47%.  He made his point with utter clarity.  The problem is, he was caught in an unguarded moment, and for once he told the truth.

And if there's one thing the Romney/Ryan campaign can't stand, it's the truth about their plans getting out.

It's a shame.  They're both basically decent men who are running one of the worst presidential campaigns in memory -- a dangerous harbinger of what sort of administration they would run.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Dems gain in senate races

According to the Talking Points Memo poll tracking site, Democrats are leading in enough close senate races that the likely final tally would be:   Democrats 54, Republicans 45.

Of course that could change, and Republican donors are said to be abandoning Romney and contributing to senate races to try to take control of the Senate, assuming that Romney is going to lose.

But it's still good news, because a second term for Romney with Republicans in control of both houses would be more gridlock.


Latest from Nate Silver

Nate Silver's latest prediction, based on his statistical genius with poll results: Obama's chances of winning the electoral vote are 85%, with 320 electoral votes.


Sunday, September 30, 2012


This is pretty devastating for the Romney campaign.   It remains incomprehensible why, at this late date, they still will not, or can not, reveal the details of their tax plan.   Here's an exchange from this morning's appearance by Paul Ryan on the "Fox News Sunday":

Ryan declared, once again, that Romney's tax plan would bring lower tax rates for all Americans while remaining revenue-neutral.  And he repeated the claim that it would drop taxpayers' bills by 20% without costing a dime because it would be offset by closing loopholes.

Chris Wallace challenged Ryan's claim this morning:  "You haven't given me the math."

Ryan:  “I don’t have the ... It would take me too long to go through all of the math.”

Wallace then played a clip of Obama mocking that claim and saying:
No matter how many times they tell you they’re gonna start talking specifics really soon, they don’t do it. . . .   And the reason is because the math doesn’t work.”

Non-partisan tax experts at the Tax Policy Center have examined the claim and said that there is no way that can happen without taxes going up for middle class Americans.  It is just not mathematically possible.

Of course the Republican base won't care about this, but they have those votes anyway.   How many thinking independents will buy this?

Not enough.  Obama's lead in swing states keeps growing.