Poor Sad Sack Romneys At Loose Ends

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Did you see the hilarious piece by Philip Rucker in the Washington Post this morning on how poor Mitt and Ann Romney are having trouble adjusting to life out of the spotlight?

Gone are the minute-by-minute schedules and the swarm of Secret Service agents. There’s no aide to make his peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. Romney hangs around the house, sometimes alone, pecking away at his iPad and e-mailing his CEO buddies who have been swooping in and out of La Jolla to visit. He wrote to one who’s having a liver transplant soon: “I’ll change your bedpan, take you back and forth to treatment.” [....]

Four weeks after losing a presidential election he was convinced he would win, Romney’s rapid retreat into seclusion has been marked by repressed emotions, second-guessing and, perhaps for the first time in the overachiever’s adult life, sustained boredom, according to interviews with more than a dozen of Romney’s closest friends and advisers.

Romney’s next door neighbor is renovating his house, but the Romney’s planned renovations to their La Jolla home, including the famous car elevator haven’t even begun. The former presidential candidate is now renting an office in Boston at his son Tagg’s firm, Solomere Capital. Ann Romney is reportedly more devastated than her husband.

By all accounts, the past month has been most difficult on Romney’s wife, Ann, who friends said believed up until the end that ascending to the White House was their destiny. They said she has been crying in private and trying to get back to riding her horses.

Ann apparently bought into the White Horse Prophecy, and believed–along with her husband’s pollsters–that God would keep the black people away from the polls because Mitt had been chosen by god.

But Mitt’s friends say he’s not bitter, and he isn’t going to let himself go, despite his hangdog appearance in the photo above. He’s been riding his bike around his La Jolla neighborhood, and he’s not going to balloon up and grow a beard like Al Gore did after he was cheated out of the presidency.

One longtime counselor contrasted Romney with former vice president Al Gore, whose weight gain and beard became a symbol of grievance over his 2000 loss. “You won’t see heavyset, haggard Mitt,” he said. Friends say a snapshot-gone-viral showing a disheveled Romney pumping gas is just how he looks without a suit on his frame or gel in his hair.

The article says Romney might write a book about the campaign, and he’s even thinking about starting some kind of charity along the lines of the Clinton Global Initiative. But wouldn’t that require some kind of ability to empathize with people who need help?

But here’s the funniest part. On Thanksgiving, son Josh came for a visit with his four kids–they all had to sleep in one bedroom–and no one wanted to cook dinner, so they ordered out from Boston Market.

It’s all so very very sad.


Monday Afternoon Open Thread: The Dust Bowl, The Return of Charles Pierce, and Mittenfreude

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

If you didn’t get to see the first half of Ken Burns’ documentary on the Dust Bowl last night on PBS, please be sure to watch it when you can. It was outstanding, although very painful to watch at times. I watched it with my mom. It brought back lots of memories for her, as she grew up in North Dakota in the Dust Bowl days. Toward the end of the show last night there was film of FDR visiting North Dakota to survey the damage. Most of the archival footage is from Oklahoma and Kansas, with lesser amounts from Colorado, Kansas, and Texas.

The second part of the documentary will be on tonight. I’m guessing this part will be less agonizing because it will cover Roosevelt’s efforts to deal with the greatest man-made ecological disaster in history. I hope it will cover the creation of the CCC and how the government supervised planting of lines of trees for windbreaks. You can still see them all over the Midwest. There are lots in Indiana. There must have been other scientific improvements to farming that I don’t know about.

I highly recommend watching the second part tonight if you can. I don’t think you need to watch them in order necessarily.

I’m so happy that Charlie Pierce is back from his interminable week-long vacation! He has some great pieces up today already.

This morning he weighed in on the Susan Rice witchhunt on yesterday’s Sunday talk shows.

Then he recommended that Ross Douthat and other who missed the ’60s

drop some brown acid, listen to the first Quicksilver album, or at least read more than two books before they start telling the rest of us how everything they would have loved about America, had they been alive then, went to hell in a handbasket the first time Ken Kesey sat down at a typewriter.

He gave us a title for the Petraeus scandal and some great nicknames for John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Well, not much happened while we were gone. The entire national-security apparatus got together and decided to produce a remake of the famous 1989 Helen Mirren vehicle, The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, Her Lover, The General, His Wife, The Other Woman, The Other Other Woman, The Other General, and The Lovesick Shirtless FBI Guy. In the other half of the double feature, we have Senator Grumpy and his sidekick, Huckleberry Closetcase, yelling about Benghazi while Harry Reid contemplates turning a garden hose on them to cool them down.

And then he beat up on Maureen Dowd for her nasty Sunday column on Susan Rice.

let’s pause for a moment and mark the return of airy dementia to the prose of one M. Dowd, of The New York Times, who decided to unlimber herself on the Bigger-Than-Watergate-Teapot Dome-Crédit Mobilier-The-Combined scandal surrounding what the gnomes in John McCain’s head think happened in Benghazi. Notably piquant is this passage in which Ms. Dowd wonders whether or not the president and his staff are as shallow and muddleheaded about politics as she is.

And MoDo will absolutely hate the photo that accompanies the post. I’m sooooo glad Pierce is back!

I have to admit, I’d like to stretch out the Mittenfreude, so I have a few Romney links for you.

TMZ caught Mitt and Ann going to see teen chick flick Breaking Dawn yesterday. I knew those two were immature, but I guess I didn’t realize how immature.

NBC News has a piece about what Romney and Ryan would have been doing this week if they hadn’t been beaten in a landslide on November 7.

If Mitt Romney had won the presidential election, insiders say, it’s not hard to imagine what he and his number two, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, would have been tackling on this very day.

An extensive preparation plan dubbed the “Romney Readiness Project,” pulled together by the GOP nominee’s team and no longer of any use, offers detailed insight into how ready he was to take the reins, the sources told NBC News.

Romney and Ryan each had office space set aside for them at a transition office in southwest Washington, D.C., where former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt led a team of hundreds of advisers tasked with crafting an ambitious agenda for the Republican’s first 200 days in office.

Insiders describe a well-prepared transition that was ready to hit the ground running on Nov. 7, and begin the work of fashioning a Romney government.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!! I’m sure glad we dodged that bullet!

Finally, Kevin Drum calls Romney “Officially the Most Hated Man in America,” and all because the articulated what most Republicans believe–that about half of the American people are worthless layabouts who don’t deserve to eat, live indoors, or have health care when they get sick.

What are you reading and/or hearing?


UAW, CREW File Ethics Charges Against Romney for Hiding Auto Bailout Profits

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King and the Center for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) will hold a press conference at 2PM today to announce that they are filing formal ethics charges against Mitt Romney with the US Office of Government Ethics for

improperly hid[ing] a profit of $15.3 million to $115.0 million in Ann Romney’s so-called “blind” trust.

The union chief says, “The American people have a right to know about Gov. Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue,” “It’s time for Gov. Romney to disclose or divest.”

The ethics complaint is based on investigative research by Greg Palast, published in The Nation on October 17. Briefly:

The Romneys’ gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a limited partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it.

According to ethics law expert Dan Curry who drafted the ethics complaint, Ann Romney does not have a federally-approved blind trust. An approved “blind” trust may not be used to hide a major investment which could be affected by Romney if he were to be elected President. Other groups joining the UAW and CREW include Public Citizen, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Public Campaign, People for the American Way and The Social Equity Group….

In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division. Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bailout fund provided Delphi with huge payments. While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

Singer’s fund ended up making $1.27 billion, after which he moved all Dephi production to Mexico along with 25,000 UAW jobs. The goal of the ethics complaint is to force the Romneys to reveal how much profit the made off this sleazy deal.

Feel free to use this as an open thread.


Ann Romney’s “Revealing” Interview With Good Housekeeping Magazine

Good Housekeeping has published interviews with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. The editors call the interview with Romney “revealing,” and I’d have to agree–though probably for different reasons than theirs.

The headline revelation has to be that Ann Romney wants to “throw out the” education “system.”

GH: Can you tell me, what campaign issue is closest to your heart?

AR: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.

Romney doesn’t elaborate on what “answers” the charter schools have provided or which improvements teachers unions are preventing. But a number of studies have found problems with charter schools, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that students’ test scores are better overall in charter schools than public schools.

As for the teachers unions, I realize that Ann’s husband would like to eliminate all unions and reduce workers’ pay as much as possible. Certainly privatizing education through charter schools would be a good way to eliminate teachers unions.

Ann Romney was certainly a lot more explicit about the goal of ending public schools in this interview than her husband has been. Perhaps Mitt isn’t worried about the reactions of readers of Good Housekeeping. He probably thinks they’re just a bunch of silly airheads.

Ann gave several other answers that I found pretty stunning. In response to a question on why her husband should be president, Ann said:

I’d say because of his life experience, starting with the example [his father] George Romney set of being successful in his family and business and then serving in a political sphere. [He showed] what a difference being involved in politics makes. The formula from his perspective was, you never get involved in politics unless you’re financially secure and your children are raised. So when our children were older and Mitt had made a bit of money, there was his father’s example that you find ways to serve and give back.

So I guess anyone who isn’t a millionaire shouldn’t run for office? Or does “a bit of money” mean hundreds of millions to Ann? Clearly Obama shouldn’t have run with those two young daughters! Back to Ann’s pontificating:

That’s also what drew us to the Olympics. Mitt gave up everything, walked away from a very lucrative position [to lead the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics]. It was just a little square inch of light that you walk into saying, “I think this is the right thing to do.” You get that confidence from intuition and prayer…all of those things where no one’s going to give you a blueprint of how life is going to turn out.

“Mitt gave up everything?” WTF?! At this point it should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that Mitt Romney never really left Bain Capital. The Boston Globe reported in July that Romney didn’t resign from Bain in 1999 as he has claimed, but instead took a leave of absence and only negotiated his severance package in 2002 when he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts. The severance package kept him earning money from current Bain investments for ten more years. Romney was even listed as CEO of Bain on the Olympics website and during public appearances at the time. Even now Romney is still profiting from the company he founded.

Ann Romney is every bit as full of shit as her husband is. She says that Mitt would help the economy by “getting rid of regulation,” and “using our natural resources,” (meaning open up national parks to oil drilling) but she acknowledges that in places like China where there is no environmental regulation,

the pollution and the air quality is just abysmal, and people are having to live in that. You understand how important it is, but you also have to recognize that we have to balance those things.

Right. We “have to balance” the rights of the rich to feed their endless greed with the rights of the 99.9% of Americans to clean air and water.

Ann says that as First Lady she would continue to work with at-risk young people. I didn’t realize she had done that, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia,

Ann Romney has been involved in a number of children’s charities, including having been a director of the inner city-oriented Best Friends, which seeks to assist inner-city adolescent girls. She advocated a celibacy-based approach to the prevention of teen pregnancy. She worked extensively with the Ten Point Coalition in Boston and with other groups that promoted better safety and opportunities for urban youths. She was an honorary board member of Families First, a parent education program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.

She has said her interest in helping underprivileged children dates back to when she and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. She began volunteering for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay soon after that, and by 2002 was serving as one of that organization’s board members. She was on the Faith in Action Committee for the United Way, working with local religious establishments to assist at-risk children and helping to found United Way Faith and Action. Earlier, by 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.

Please note that Stand for Children is an organization that has worked to reduce protections for teachers and undermine the power of teachers unions.

A couple more of Ann’s answers really bugged me. There was the one in which she praises Mitt for saying it was OK if Ann couldn’t cook all his meals for him when she was suffering from MS:

You have to find something that’ll pull you away from those scary places. And it was my husband telling me, “I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. I don’t care whether you make dinner; I can eat cold cereal and toast. As long as we’re together, as long as you’re here, we’re going to be OK.”

Why couldn’t Mitt cook his own damn meals? How hard is it to open a cookbook and learn the basics? If he just couldn’t bring himself to do that, he could hire a cook–and other servants as well–to help his sick wife. They were hardly struggling to make ends meet!

But here’s the most annoying statement Ann made in the interview:

GH: Who are your heroes? Your role models? Don’t say your husband, even if it’s true. (Laughing)

AR: I would say Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa…and Hillary Clinton. She has been through so much; she just kept going. Now she’s doing a great job as Secretary of State.

Mother Theresa was a hypocrite just like Ann, I buy that one. But I don’t believe for one minute that she agrees with Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton on anything.


Tuesday Reads: Horses and Bayonets

President Obama temporarily wipes the smirk off Mitt Romney’s face.

Good Morning!!

The reviews are in: President Obama clearly won the third presidential debate. Now we’ll see if that is reflected in the polls. I’m going to give you a few quick links with reactions to the debate. I’m writing this at 11:30 Monday, so I know there will be lots more in the morning.

Washington Post: Obama keeps Romney on his heels in last debate

President Obama seemed to use the authority of his office to put Republican challenger Mitt Romney on his heels in their final presidential debate Monday night, telling Romney he didn’t understand foreign-policy problems as well as he does.

That idea underlay some of the night’s harshest lines from Obama. He scoffed at Romney’s assertion that Russia remained the country’s chief geopolitical foe: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”

And, when Romney asserted that the United States had fewer naval ships than decades ago, Obama retorted that his opponent didn’t understand the modern navy. There were fewer ships, he said, but also fewer “horses and bayonets.”

“We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on ‘em,” Obama said. ” “The question is not a game of battleship, where we’re counting ships.”

Romney: “Hey, no fair! You sank my battleship!”

Chris Cillizza names the winners and losers in the debate. According to Cillizza, Barack Obama and Bob Shieffer were winners. Mitt Romney was a loser.

The New York Times: Obama and Romney Bristle from Start

Talking Points Memo: In Foreign Policy Debate, Obama Uses Romney’s Past Positions Against Him

Throughout Monday night’s presidential debate on foreign policy, President Obama used past positions that Mitt Romney has taken over the course of the campaign to depict him as the wrong candidate to run U.S. foreign policy.

Obama used the tactic both to defend his own initiatives — particularly his Libya policy — and to characterize Romney as an untrained foreign policy hand who has been wobbly and inconsistent.

“I know you haven’t been in a position to execute foreign policy,” Obama said, in summarizing his theme of attack, “but every time you have offered an opinion, you have been wrong.”

Specifics at the link.

The Daily Beast reviewed Michelle Obama’s and Ann Romney’s dresses.

Perhaps it’s a symbol of the Recession: Michelle Obama didn’t wear a brand new designer dress. She didn’t wear a blinding pink suit either. No, at the fourth Presidential debate in Florida on Monday night, she recycled a dress.

Michelle Obama appeared in the crowd in the same black and grey Thom Browne dress that she had worn on the second night of the Democratic National Convention in early September. It was an interesting choice for debate night — a night when the candidates’ wives traditionally have chosen to stand out from the crowd in bright designs….

Ann Romney, on the other hand, wore a silk green top and cream and green silk skirt to the debate on Monday. Typically, it was not as fashion-forward as Obama’s choice, but it was adventurous for her, and it demonstrated the ease and facility with which she is now styled on the trail; a creative assembly of different items to acheive a polished look. But it was also throwback: a bell skirt and helmet of blonde hair defiantly recalled the look of a 1950s housewife. She has finally grown more confident with her style: she’s been told she has to dress like a First Lady, and maybe, just maybe, does she finally look the part.

In other news,

Efraim Halevy, a former Mossad chief discussed Iran and Mitt Romney with Laura Rozen at AL Monitor. He’s not a fan of the Mittster. Here’s a quote:

Obama has placed emphasis on negotiations. In this current election for the US presidency, his hands are tied. He cannot proceed, because he cannot appear soft on Israel’s security.

Negotiating with Iran is perceived as a sign of beginning to forsake Israel. That is where I think the basic difference is between Romney and Obama. What Romney is doing is mortally destroying any chance of a resolution without war. Therefore when [he recently] said, he doesn’t think there should be a war with Iran, this does not ring true. It is not consistent with other things he has said. […]

Obama does think there is still room for negotiations. It’s a very courageous thing to say in this atmosphere.

In the end, this is what I think: Making foreign policy on Iran a serious issue in the US elections — what Romney has done, in itself — is a heavy blow to the ultimate interests of the United States and Israel.

It is not as if, if he wins the election, and gets into the White House, he can back up. The Iranians are listening attentively to what he says. When he says, he would arm the opposition in Iran. They understand.

From the Boston Phoenix, a really creepy story about Romney’s sense of entitlement: Gold Star Mother: Romney Skipped Funeral, Left “Bullying” Messages.

Remember when Ann Romney claimed on The View that Mitt had attended every funeral of a soldier from Massachusetts who lost his or her life in Iraq or Afghanistan? Not according ot one grieving mother, Stephany Kern. She says that Romney, like other politicians called and left messages for her, but she was too broken up to respond. Kerry and Kennedy contacted other family members to find out when would be a good time to try again. But Romney called repeatedly, leaving insensitive messages indicating that he was insulted by the lack of a return call.

“I can’t believe you haven’t returned my call,” Romney said on one of the voice mail messages, according to Stephany Kern, speaking at her Westerly, Rhode Island home this past Saturday. “Here I am making a second call; I haven’t heard from you.” ….

Kern’s son, Marine Lance Corporal Nickolas Schiavoni, was killed by an IED explosion in Iraq on November 15, 2005. He was born and lived his entire life in the Haverhill, Massachusetts, area, and his funeral took place in Haverhill on November 26. His grandfather, David Swartz — Kern’s father — was a well-known attorney, prosecutor, and city councilor in that city.

Romney didn’t go to Schiavoni’s wake or funeral.

Mrs. Kern says that many officials, including Romney and Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, left messages for her the day after her son died. She felt unable to speak to anyone in those initial days. “I didn’t listen to any of the calls,” she says.

Only Romney, she says, complained in a second message that she had not called back.

“He was completely unable to understand that a mom was not going to return his phone call, and that it wasn’t a priority for me,” she says. “I wasn’t being disrespectful. I was being a mom who was greeting the casket of her son coming home from war.”

And Romney called a third time, even more annoyed:

Steve Kern, who has been married to Stephany Kern since prior to Schiavoni enlisting in 2002, says that he heard Romney’s second and third messages.

He recalls Romney saying in one: “I’m a busy man.” He describes Romney’s tone as “disrespectful,” “antagonistic,” and “absolutely inappropriate to use on a Gold Star mother.”

Some weeks later, Kern says, someone from Romney’s office called her to say that Romney intended to visit Sciavoni’s gravesite. Kern asked that he not do so if he intended to have his photograph taken there; she does not know whether Romney visited or not.

The Kerns didn’t save the answering machine tapes, but that sure sounds like Mitt Romney.

This is interesting. Although the media constantly reports that the military supports Romney, Open Secrets reports that in terms of donations: Armed Forces Show Overwhelming Support for Obama

Update, Oct. 21: Fundraising numbers for the month of September show Obama continuing to dominate when it comes to contributions from the military. The new data, which came in after the story below was published Oct. 15, show he raised $142,197, just a shade less than he collected in August, his strongest month with this set of donors. Romney brought in $111,015 for his best month ever with military donors, but that was still 22 percent less than Obama received.

The new numbers bring Obama’s total from military donors to $678,611, and Romney’s to $398,450.

The Italian judiciary system might be even worse than ours. Check this out: Italian experts convicted of manslaughter over deadly 2009 quake

Defying assertions that earthquakes cannot be predicted, an Italian court convicted seven scientists and experts of manslaughter Monday for failing to adequately warn residents before a temblor struck central Italy in 2009 and killed more than 300 people.

The court in L’Aquila also sentenced the defendants to six years each in prison. All are members of the national Great Risks Commission, and several are prominent scientists or geological and disaster experts.
Scientists had decried the trial as ridiculous, contending that science has no reliable way of predicting earthquakes. So news of the verdict shook the tightknit community of earthquake experts worldwide.

“It’s a sad day for science,” said seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s unsettling.” That fellow seismic experts in Italy were singled out in the case “hits you in the gut,” Hough added.

The war on science is international, apparently.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Let’s see what’s going on out there in the world today. It looks like the Salt Lake Tribune endorsement of President Obama for a second term has shocked right-wing world a bit, because it’s the top story this morning at right leaning Memeorandum.

The endorsement is especially noteworthy for its assessment of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. The editors begin by saying that Romney’s run for president had been “warmly welcomed” in Utah, especially because of “Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record.” But now, the editors say, they barely recognize what their “favorite adopted son” has become:

Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”

The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

More troubling, Romney has repeatedly refused to share specifics of his radical plan to simultaneously reduce the debt, get rid of Obamacare (or, as he now says, only part of it), make a voucher program of Medicare, slash taxes and spending, and thereby create millions of new jobs. To claim, as Romney does, that he would offset his tax and spending cuts (except for billions more for the military) by doing away with tax deductions and exemptions is utterly meaningless without identifying which and how many would get the ax. Absent those specifics, his promise of a balanced budget simply does not pencil out.

If this portrait of a Romney willing to say anything to get elected seems harsh, we need only revisit his branding of 47 percent of Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, yet feel victimized and entitled to government assistance. His job, he told a group of wealthy donors, “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

More than half of the editorial is devoted to explaining why Romney doesn’t deserve to win the election, and although the editors praise Obama’s first term achievements–the auto industry bailout, health care reform, and foreign policy successes–it is clear that the editorial board would have preferred to endorse the Mitt Romney they once admired.

The Tampa Bay Times endorsement of Obama is also near the top of Memeorandum this morning. Theirs contains much more full-throated praise of the president’s first term achievements, but they also condemn Mitt Romney’s vague and negative agenda.

The economic stimulus package, which Mitt Romney and his Republican allies deride as a failure, had its flaws but stopped the collapse. It preserved or created up to 3 million jobs, and it invested in smart projects such as expanding U.S. 19 in Pinellas County and connecting the Port of Tampa with Interstate 4 in Hillsborough County. The auto company bailout, which Romney opposed, preserved jobs and rejuvenated the industry. The Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which Romney would repeal, protect consumers and force banks to act more responsibly. Undoing those reforms would be a mistake and invite the abuses that contributed to the economic crisis.

The Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative achievement, offers sweeping health care reform that presidents from both political parties unsuccessfully pursued for decades. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will get health coverage. Millions of young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance policies, and insurers no longer can refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, insurers also will have to accept adults with pre-existing conditions, and most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. This is a historic step toward universal health care and a fairer sharing of costs, and it should be improved upon rather than repealed as Romney promises. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the guts of the law, and it is time to work as hard on containing health care costs as on providing access to care.

Although he came to the job with limited foreign policy experience, Obama has been reasonably sure-footed. His appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state reflected the Democrat’s self-confidence to invite a former rival and wife of a former president to join his administration. Obama followed through on his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq, which Romney called a mistake. The president’s temporary troop surge in Afghanistan stabilized the country and checked the Taliban’s momentum. Yet the president recognizes Americans have no appetite for a never-ending war for diminishing returns. He pledges to pull combat forces out of Afghanistan in 2014, while Romney remains fuzzy about his intentions.

There’s an interesting drama playing out in Indiana between far right Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and the man he defeated, long-time Republican Senator Richard Lugar.

The Boston Globe reported last week that Lugar was angered when Mourdock sent out a campaign mailer claiming that Lugar was supporting Mourdock.

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Wednesday the piece was ‘‘clearly unauthorized’’ and comes from a group that spent $100,000 against Lugar in the primary. Conservative lawyer Jim Bopp’s super PAC sent the mailer to Hoosier voters this week.

Mourdock has continued to try and win Lugar’s mantle in the general election — claiming in Monday’s debate that he had been endorsed by the senator — but Lugar has kept him at arms-length throughout the campaign. Mourdock said Wednesday he’s not responsible for messages sent by outside group’s like Bopp’s.

From the South Bend Tribune:

Retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar reiterated Wednesday that he will not campaign for Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after a mailer from a longtime conservative opponent claimed Lugar’s “torch has been passed” to the tea-party hero who beat him in the primary.

The mailer comes as both Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly fight desperately for the “Lugar Republicans,” or moderate voters, who appear likely to swing Indiana’s tight Senate battle.
Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Wednesday the piece was “clearly unauthorized” and said Lugar’s refusal to campaign for Mourdock has not changed.

“During the primary, Mourdock and his supporters perpetuated misleading statements about Sen. Lugar. Unfortunately, that has continued with this mailer funded by a committee that spent over $100,000 to defeat Sen. Lugar. It was clearly unauthorized and done without consultation with us,” Fisher said in a statement.

WISH TV in Indianapolis notes that Lugar is campaigning for another Republican.

Senator Richard Lugar won’t campaign for Richard Mourdock, yet he is campaigning for another Republican, Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Lugar is staying out of the Senate race but he’s clearly not quitting politics. It helps make the point that his refusal to campaign for Mourdock is personal and intentional.

Just last Thursday, Dick Lugar hosted a fundraiser at the Conrad Hotel for Greg Zoeller. Zoeller has distributed photos of it on his website and his Facebook page, showing Lugar delivering remarks, posing for pictures and working the crowd.

24-Hour News 8 caught up with Zoeller by phone in Washington, DC.

“I’ve supported him over the years,” said Zoeller, “so I was glad to have his help and would accept it again.”

For Lugar, it’s the return of a favor. Zoeller appeared in one of his ads before the May primary. But it comes at a time when others are trying to convince voters that Lugar and Mourdock hold similar views without the benefit of a Lugar campaign appearance.

“Richard Mourdock is so much closer to Richard Lugar than the other gentleman,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at a Mourdock event Wednesday.

The Washington Post headline calls this “sour grapes.” Really? Lugar is an old-style moderate Republican who worked with Democrats in the Senate. Donnelly might be a moderate Republican if he lived in a more liberal state. Anyway, I hope this helps Donnelly. Mourdock would be a disaster for Indiana and for the country.

Here are a few more suggested reads, link dump style.

The New York Times: Romney as a Manager: Unhurried and Socratic.

Jonathan Bernstein at Salon: Fox News cost Mitt the debate

Laura Gottesdiener, Alternet: Ann: Mormon missions are just like military service!

Amanda Marcotte on the ugly right wing response to Katherine Fentons’s equal pay question at the second presidential debate: You Don’t React Like This to a Simple Question Without Being an Outrageous Misogynist

David Ignatius at the Washington Post: CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks

That ought to be enough to get you started. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Monday Afternoon Coffee Break

Afternoon Coffee Break, by Merle Keller

I’m having trouble focusing enough to write a real post, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been reading this afternoon. I’ll begin with some very good news from Reuters: Shot Pakistani girl can recover, UK doctors say

A Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban has every chance of making a “good recovery”, British doctors said on Monday as 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai arrived at a hospital in central England for treatment of her severe wounds.

Yousufzai, who was shot for advocating education for girls, was flown from Pakistan to receive specialist treatment at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital at a unit expert in dealing with complex trauma cases that has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

“Doctors…believe she has a chance of making a good recovery on every level,” said Dr Dave Rosser, the hospital’s medical director, adding that her treatment and rehabilitation could take months.

The article says the doctors haven’t actually evaluated Malala yet; but they are nevertheless confidence she can recover because she has made it through “the removal of the bullet and the very critical 48-hour window after surgery.”

Treatment for the schoolgirl is likely to include repairing damaged bones in her skull and complex follow-up neurological treatment.

“Injuries to bones in the skull can be treated very successfully by the neurosurgeons and the plastic surgeons, but it is the damage to the blood supply to the brain that will determine long-term disability,” said Duncan Bew, consultant trauma surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust in London.

Malala’s youth increases her chances for full recovery, because young brains are more plastic than older ones.

Mitt Romney has chickened out on his scheduled appearance with the “sharp-tongued women” of The View

One of the nuggets overshadowed by the 47 percent dis in the secret Mitt Romney fund-raiser video had the candidate telling his wealthy donors how he picked his television appearances, and why he shunned the likes of SNL and Letterman. The View was “high risk,” he said, because “of the five women on it, only one is conservative, and four are sharp-tongued and not conservative. Whoopi Goldberg in particular.” To make amends, the Romney campaign said both Mitt and Ann would come on the show in October, and a summit was planned for this Thursday. But as Barbara Walters announced on today’s program, the appearance has been canceled, and Ann will have to do.

“We were looking forward to it,” explained Walters. “Over the weekend, his people said that he had scheduling problems and would not be coming on with us. Nor at this point did he feel that he could reschedule.” She added, “He can change his mind and we hope he does. It would be our pleasure to have him on the program.” (“It was no longer going to work in the campaign schedule but Mrs. Romney is very excited to join the ladies of The View,” a Romney spokesperson confirmed.)

What a wimp!

There’s a lengthy article at by John Boher at BuzzFeed that explodes a number of myths about George Romney’s political career, and it is well worth the read.

Everyone agrees: Mitt Romney is not like his father.

The late Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate George Romney is remembered as a principled man of spontaneity and candor. His example is regularly invoked by both admirers of his son’s disciplined campaign style and critics of Mitt’s back-and-forth pandering. George, it is said, told the truth about the Vietnam War before it was popular to do so, with an unfortunately worded comment about “brainwashing” by U.S. government officials that cost him the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. “Mitt learned at an impressionable age that in politics, authenticity kills,” historian Rick Perlstein wrote in Rolling Stone earlier this year. “Heeding the lesson of his father’s fall, he became a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician.”

This rejection of his father’s example, the thinking goes, is what has made Mitt a more successful presidential candidate — self-controlled but hard to pin down, flipping from moderate to conservative to moderate once again. It is observed that Mitt would never draw a line in the sand like his father did in 1964, when George dramatically “charged out of the 1964 Republican National Convention over the party’s foot-dragging on civil rights,” as the Boston Globe’s authoritative biography, “The Real Romney,” put it earlier this year. Outlets from the New York Times to the New Republic have recalled this story of the elder Romney’s stand against Goldwater’s hard-line conservatives. Frontline’s documentary “The Choice 2012” reported it as a formative event: “when Goldwater received the nomination, Mitt saw his father angrily storm out.” A Google search for the incident produces hundreds of pages of results. In August, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne cited the episode to write that Mitt “has seemed more a politician who would do whatever it took to close a deal than a leader driven by conviction and commitment. This is a problem George Romney never had.”

Except that none of it is true. George Romney was known by his political peers and by journalists as a flip-flopper with no real ideological core. He never stormed out of the 1964 Convention.

He stayed until the very end, formally seconding Goldwater’s eventual nomination and later standing by while an actual walkout took place. He left the convention holding open the possibility of endorsing Goldwater and then, after a unity summit in Hershey, Pennsylvania, momentarily endorsed the Arizona senator. Then he changed his mind while his top aides polled “all-white and race-conscious” Michigan communities for a “secret” white backlash vote against LBJ’s civil rights advances — a backlash that might have made a Goldwater endorsement palatable at home. Finding the Republican label even more unpopular than civil rights in Michigan, Romney ultimately distanced himself from the entire party, including his own moderate Republican allies

No one knows how that story got started, but it was Mitt who repeatedly spread it around once he began running for office. George Romney never marched with Martin Luther King either. There’s much much more, and it’s really interesting. Mitt may just be a chip off the old block after all.

There a little bit of good news for Obama in today’s polls. Reuters/Ipsos shows Obama leading by two points

President Barack Obama retained a slim lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll on Monday, as he appeared to have stemmed the bleeding from his poor first debate.

Three weeks before the November 6 U.S. election, Obama leads Romney by 2 percentage points, with 47 percent support from likely voters in the national online poll, to 45 percent support for Romney.

The margin was small enough to be a virtual tie, but Obama’s slight edge broadened from Sunday, when he went ahead of Romney by 1 point after falling behind in the wake of Romney’s decisive victory in their first presidential debate on October 3.

“Romney received a bump from that first debate, but the very nature of a bump is it recedes again,” Ipsos vice president Julia Clark said. “We’re now seeing Obama regaining a little bit of a foothold as we go into the second debate. They go into the debate on equal footing.”

The Washington Post-ABC poll released overnight had Obama with a 3 point lead, 49-46 percent. Chris Cillizza has some “deep(ish) thoughts” about the results. For some crazy reason, more people still think Mitt Romney would handle the economy better than Obama, but not by much, and everyone is anxious about the future no matter which candidate gets elected. Obama is still seen as far more likable than Romney, 60-30 among registered voters and 58-32 among likely voters.

The bad news for Obama, if the USA Today/Gallup poll of the swing states can be trusted, is that Romney has made huge gains with women voters.

Mitt Romney leads President Obama by five percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank.

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men.

Why those issues would favor Romney is a mystery, since all the experts say his tax cuts would explode the deficit.

The battle for women, which was apparent in the speakers spotlighted at both political conventions this summer, is likely to help define messages the candidates deliver at the presidential debate Tuesday night and in the TV ads they air during the final 21 days of the campaign. As a group, women tend to start paying attention to election contests later and remain more open to persuasion by the candidates and their ads.

That makes women, especially blue-collar “waitress moms” whose families have been hard-hit by the nation’s economic woes, the quintessential swing voters in 2012’s close race.

Ugh.

Ralph posted a couple of very interesting poll-related links in the previous thread:

Sam Wang: The Passing Storm

In national polls, the race has swung back three points since the Presidential debate to a narrow Obama lead. This return has been steady over time, and so the role of the VP debate is unclear. Combined with state polls, the data suggest that the effect of Mitt Romney’s performance was an instantaneous jump of 5.5 points, which has now subsided back to where polls were in August. The decline in the state poll meta-analysis has been blocked by Ohio. Today, President Obama’s November re-elect probability is 84% – still a Russian-roulette situation for the Democrats.

And and “exclusive” at Democratic Underground: Gravis Marketing exposed as a fraud Part I. Very interesting and creepy too.

Everyone has advice for President Obama for tomorrow night’s debate. Lanny Davis offers some ridiculous suggestions at The Hill

1) Be respectful and gracious to Romney — look at him while he is talking and listen to what he is saying — not because it is better than the appearance of disrespect you conveyed in the first debate by looking down and taking notes, but because he is a good man, a good dad, a good husband and a successful businessman and politician who is deserving of respect.

2) Be firm and strong when you challenge him on his policy positions — but don’t interrupt or raise your voice, and concede him the merits once in a while (since it is neither true nor politically effective to declare that he is 100 percent wrong and you are 100 percent right).

3) Most heretical of all — concede a little when you can when the truth requires that you made some mistakes in your first term — and aver that will make you a better president in the second term.

For example, you could say you regret not making a greater effort to break the logjam of the supercommittee on dealing with the then $15 trillion debt. You could say you wished you had done more to reach out to the Senate and House Republicans on the committee and intend to do so in your next term — and to do a better job seeking the counsel of senior Republicans who are, in fact, interested in achieving solutions and bipartisan consensus, particularly on making real progress on reducing the nation’s unsustainable national debt, such as Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).

I think he’s actually serious too!!

Greg Sargent wants to make sure President Obama reads David Stockman’s smackdown of Romney’s economic policies so he can “unmask” Romney “as an economic sham.”

Howard Fineman has a column on the many “fans” who are now second-guessing the Obama campaign strategies.

What are you hearing? This is an open thread, of course.