Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a potpourri of great reads for you this morning, so let’s get started.

First up, people in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy have barely begun to recover. CBS News/AP report that: The scale of post-Sandy challenge in NY, NJ is unprecedented.

Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days aftersuperstorm Sandy struck.

For the first time since the storm slammed the Northeast, killing at least 63 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation’s largest city — a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind. The light gave officials and residents a true glimpse of destruction on a scale that the region has never seen before.

At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.

New York’s subway system was still down, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said parts of it will begin running again on Thursday. And he said some commuter rail service between the city and its suburbs would resume on Wednesday afternoon.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and his new BFF Barack Obama toured the devastation. From The New York Times: An Unlikely Political Pair, United by a Disaster.

President Obama toured the storm-tossed boardwalks of New Jersey’s ravaged coastline on Wednesday, in a vivid display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony that confronted Mitt Romney with a vexing challenge just as he returned to the campaign trail in Florida.

The scene of Mr. Obama greeting his onetime political antagonist Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City was a striking departure from what has become an increasingly bitter campaign, marked by sharp divisions between Mr. Romney’s more limited view of the federal role and Mr. Obama’s more expansive vision. The president placed a hand on Mr. Christie’s back and guided him to Marine One, where the two men shared a grim flight over shattered sea walls, burning houses and a submerged roller coaster.

Speaking to storm victims at a community center in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, Mr. Obama said, “We are going to be here for the long haul.” Mr. Christie thanked the president for his visit, saying, “It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey.”

The tableau of bipartisan cooperation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s highly visible role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has put Mr. Romney in an awkward position…

As for Mitt Romney, he was getting hammered by the media in Ohio for two ads in which he falsely implied that Chrysler and GM were planning to ship American jobs to China. It looks to me as if Romney has given up the ghost in Ohio, because he headed to Florida yesterday, where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading by one point.

And last night the NYT editorial board slammed Romney for “cross[ing] a red line.”

When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.

Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.

I think Romney may have finally sunk his campaign with those lying ads about the auto bailout. I wonder if that has contributed to polls that show Obama widening his leads in Michigan and Wisconsin?

In the Nebraska Senate Race, Bob Kerrey has been moving up in the polls, and last night Omaha.com broke some exciting news that could put him over the top: Chuck Hagel to endorse Bob Kerrey.

A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.

Hagel’s endorsement comes as polls have shown the race between Kerrey and Fischer tightening down the home stretch.

Hagel’s backing could go a long way with independents. And, it clearly underscores Kerrey’s contention that he is the person in the race who can win Republican and Democratic support.

If Kerry, Claire McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren, and perhaps Joe Donnelly can win their races, the Democrats should at least hold their majority in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, Liz Warren began making her final arguments.

As both Massachusetts Senate candidates deliver their final messages to voters, Warren is drawing on one major advantage she has in the state: demographics. According to the Secretary of State, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Massachusetts by a more than a three to one margin. As the race remains close, Warren and her supporters are using a partisan argument to rally the Democratic base, and encourage activists to turn out the vote on Warren’s behalf. Elect Brown, Warren and her supporters argue, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate.

Introducing Warren to a crowd of volunteers and activists at Warren’s Haverhill field office on Wednesday, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he came from a Halloween party. “Everyone was dressed up in really scary costumes, so I was going to dress up as (Republican Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” he said, to laughter. “Because can you think of anything scarier than (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner in the House of Representatives or Mitch McConnell in the Senate?”

“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the vote about which party is going to control the United States Senate,” Fiorentini continued. “We know which way Scott Brown is going to vote.”

Warren also released a great new ad that may serve as a closing argument: For All Our Families.

Right now in Indiana Joe Donnelly is leading Richard Mourdock by 7 percentage points.

I’ll end with a couple of powerful long reads.

From Truthout: What Does Romney’s Campaign of Lies Say About Our Country? Here’s the first paragraph:

Last week Mitt Romney delivered possibly the most dishonest presidential campaign speech in American history. It contains lie after lie, distortion after distortion, and trick after trick. The fact that a person capable of giving such a speech has reached this level suggests that it may be too late to salvage the country. Our institutions may be corrupted beyond repair.

Please check it out.

At Alternet, Matthew Fleisher writes: Why I Infiltrated One of the Most Secretive and Powerful Republican Organizations in the Country. This one is really long, but well worth reading. Here’s the teaser:

The Lincoln Club is the real deal. And if they have their way, Citizens United is just the beginning of their political ambitions for the country.

That’s it for me. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Soledad Spins the Spinners Again

Tara Wall was put to the Soledad Truth treatment yesterday. She was unable to defend a contradictory set of statements on Israel and Palestine made by Wall yesterday after Romney’s NeoCon speech.

Here’s the basic gist from Alternet.

The exchange over the Israel/Palestine conflict has attracted the most attention, with O’Brien grilling Wall on Romney’s “contradictory positions.”

The topic of the segment wasRomney’s foreign policy speech earlier today at the Virginia Military Institute.

O’Brien first tried to get into the fine points of Romney’s foreign policy, questioning whether Romney was laying out any different options on Iran than President Obama. O’Brien asked three questions about Iran, but Wall was not interested in getting into specifics.

Then O’Brien turned to the Middle East. O’Brien juxtaposed the remarks Romney made at the infamous Florida fundraiser that was secretly taped, and his planned remarks today. In Florida, Romney said that peace with the Palestinians was not an option because the “pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”–meaning a Palestinian state is unthinkable.

But in Virginia, Romney vowed to work for a “democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”

O’Brien asked Wall about these “contradictory” positions. Wall fired back, and said, “the fact is that it’s the president who’s failed.” O’Brien then talked over Wall’s remarks, saying, “Tara, that was an excellent shift, but answer for me about Gov. Romney.”

O’Brien repeatedly tried to get an answer to her question, but it was to no avail. “I’m not going to get into a big foreign policy debate with you here,” said Wall, explaining that foreign policy is not in her purview in the campaign

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the media wouldn’t act like stage props and actually call out campaigns on inconsistencies and lies?

Interestingly enough,Paul Ryan was rude to a reporter in Michigan who was evidently asking unwanted questions about guns and violence. There’s some indication that Ryan actually walked off the interview.

A Michigan ABC affiliate posted video of an animated exchange between Paul Ryan and a local reporter on Monday evening, prompting questions about whether Ryan walked out of the interview.

When it aired, reporter Terry Camp characterized the interview as ending badly, and said Ryan was “not specific in his answers.” Meanwhile, the Ryan campaign said the candidate was asked a “weird question” relating gun violence to tax cuts.

The Ryan campaign said the interview had simply run past its allotted time, but that Ryan didn’t end the interview prematurely. Video of the interview that was posted to YouTube shows an off-camera aide (later identified as Ryan spokesman Michael Steel) calling the interview to a halt while Ryan is standing, still in casual conversation with the reporter while removing his microphone.

“Does the country have a gun problem?” Camp asked Ryan during the interview, held in the library of the Cornerstone School.

“This country has a crime problem,” Ryan responded.

I guess that Republicans expect the “Fox” treatment wherever they go.  Good to know that some reporters keep after them.  I just wish they all would!!


Thursday Reads: The Morning After

Good Morning!!

OK, I don’t drink, but I still feel hung over. That debate last night was pathetic. Romney babbled incoherently, but sounded smooth. Obama made sense and gave specifics, but sounded hesitant and herky-jerky. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to the polls, but the consensus of the pundits and liberals on Twitter is that Romney won this one. I think Obama forgot he is the president and acted like a challenger. I simply cannot believe that neither Obama nor Jim Lehrer asked Romney about his “47 percent” remarks!

Anyway, I still have a nasty cold, I’m discouraged, and tired, so I’m just hoping this post will make sense. I’m going to link to some early reactions to the debate and leave it at that.

Jennifer Granholm has predicted a couple of times that Obama would lose the first debate. From Time’s Swampland:

You recently predicted that Obama would lose the first debate. Then you suggested that the media might assign him a loss whether he deserves a win or not. Can you explain that?

The first time, I mentioned two reasons why I think he’s going to lose. One is, he’s not in debate shape in the same way that Romney is. But more importantly, the media does not like a lopsided race, and it’s appearing to be lopsided at the moment. So in order to sustain the race, I think there will be a narrative of the comeback-kid Mitt Romney.

The candidates have been busy playing the low-expectations game. Are you just helping Obama be self-deprecating?

No, I’m just looking at it purely from who’s in practice and who’s not in practice … Part of that might be that the incumbent is confronted, on this national stage, in a way that he is not usually confronted … I don’t discount that he’s a good speaker, but he does speak in paragraphs, and debates are not the place to do that.

She was right. Now for some media reactions.

LA Times: Mitt Romney loves Big Bird, will kill funding for him anyway

No question, Mitt Romney’s extensive debate preparation is paying off. At least in the first half of the debate, he seemed more emotionally connected than President Obama with the material — making jokes and self-deprecating remarks and even invoking Big Bird in a discussion about the deficit and budget priorities….

Then, looking at moderator Lehrer, Romney said, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS…. I like PBS, I love Big Bird — I actually like, you too — but I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for.”

IMO, Romney looked energetic, but he wasn’t funny. Frankly, the biggest problem for anyone debating Mitt Romney is that he is the most amazing liar ever. How do you debate someone who lies constantly and even tells conflicting lies? The only way it would be possible is if you had a moderator. Jim Lehrer was completely ineffectual. Just wait till we have to see Bob Schieffer try it. He’s around 80 isn’t he? I don’t think Lehrer is quite that old, and I think he lost consciousness a couple of times last night.

Ben Smith at Buzzfeed: How Mitt Romney Won The First Debate

Mitt Romney, trailing in the polls, needed to prove tonight that he could stand on stage with President Barack Obama as an equal and a plausible president of the United States.
He did that in the crucial first 40 minutes of Wednesday night’s debate, addressing Obama respectfully, even warmly — but then tangling with a sometimes hazy and professorial Obama on taxes and deficits.
“You don’t just pick the winners and losers — you pick the losers,” he told Obama of his energy investments, sliding time and time again into a second person singular address calculated to level the rhetorical playing field.

Romney departed dramatically from the hard conservatism of his primary campaign, downplaying the scope of his tax cuts.

“There will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit,” he said, without fully explaining how he’d accomplish that.

In other words, Romney lied and neither the moderator nor the incumbent president challenged him on his lies. Obama was incredibly passive.

Talking Points Memo: Obama Supporters: Which Obama Was That?

The early consensus on the debate among the pundit class: Mitt Romney helped himself a lot with a strong first debate performance, President Obama didn’t. And that included plenty of commentators supportive of Obama as well.

“It looked like Mitt Romney wanted to be there and President Obama didn’t want to be there,” Democratic strategist and CNN contributor James Carville said. He later added Obama did not bring his “A game.”

Alex Castellanos, a former Romney advisor who has often been critical of his campaign, said he was surprised by his “very effective” performance.

Many were surprised that Obama appeared reluctant to go on offense, never mentioning many of his own campaign’s attacks on Romney over Bain Capital or his recent leaked remarks dismissing 47 percent of Americas “victims.” In general, commentators suggested he appeared less comfortable than Romney onstage.

Josh Marshall wrote something I heard Al Sharpton say on MSNBC last night. Romney committed himself to a lot things that are going to get him in trouble in the next few days when the pundits get over his surface performance and look at what he actually said.

Two things happened in this debate. Romney had the energy and focus, a long series of arguments packed and tight to dish out in the debate. He didn’t get distracted. He had a game plan he stuck to. What struck me a lot of times through the debate was that Obama seemed pained. He didn’t seem happy. And people like seeing happy people….

Romney’s focus though came at the cost of a few key things.

He basically tossed aside his own tax plan or said he would if his numbers didn’t add up. But then he insisted that he could find enough loopholes to close to afford a $5 trillion tax cut for upper income earners. These are more numbers on the table. That’s really what most of the debate was about — budget numbers. Romney insisted with a straight face that up was down….

The numbers simply don’t add up. Over a few news cycles that can build up really fast. He says he’ll push massive upper income tax cuts and those have to come at the cost of much higher deficits or big tax hikes for middle income people. His campaign agenda is based on a massive deception.

That’s the vulnerability Romney brings out of this debate. And it may be bigger than people realize.

Greg Sargent: A good night for Mitt Romney, but was it really enough?

Mitt Romney had a very good debate tonight. Though debates often reinforce existing perceptions, Romney took steps towards reversing his image as an out of touch plutocrat. During the extended jousts of numbers crunching, he humanized himself in an unexpected way — by converting his boardroom aura from something cold and aloof into an aura of earnestness. He skillfully played the part of the technocratic centrist he used to be and whose balanced approach to policy and government he has completely abandoned. Romney also landed clear blows when indicting the Obama recovery. He seemed particularly on message in claiming that the proof that Obama’s government centric policies had failed could be found in the current state of the economy.

Obama missed key opportunities.When invoking Romney’s suggestion that kids should borrow money from their parents to pay for college, he was far too polite and discursive and didn’t make the moment stick. His defense of Obamacare took too long to make the point that Romney, in repealing the law, would take insurance away from millions without replacing it with anything.

That said, Obama won some understated victories. He won the battle over Medicare; Romney was effectively defined by that exchange as Mr. Voucher. Obama did a decent job in exposing Romney’s lack of specificity on many of the issues that were discussed tonight, and tied them together into a larger pattern of evasiveness on Romney’s part.

Ed Kilgore: Spin Room

I gather from brief glances at Twitter and initial reaction at NBC that Mitt won pretty big on style points.

A lot of progressives are beside themselves that Obama didn’t mention Bain Capital, didn’t mention the 47%, didn’t mention the Ryan Budget (except indirectly), didn’t mention inequality, didn’t mention abortion/contraception, didn’t mention immigration. Very heavy emphasis, as I noted, on Mitt’s “vagueness.” ….

You know, I’m often a bad judge of these things because I really don’t give much of a damn about “energy levels” or “aggressiveness,” and I tend to care a lot when I know a candidate is lying through his or her teeth. But if viewers thought Obama was phoning it in, that will matter, and it will matter a lot more if they are being told by every talking head in Christendom that Romney won big.

The $64,000 question is whether this will have an impact on actual candidate preferences, which have been amazingly stable.

Jonathan Chait: The Return of Massachusetts Mitt.

Tonight’s debate saw the return of the Mitt Romney who ran for office in Massachusetts in 1994 and 2002. He was obsessive about portraying himself as a moderate, using every possible opening or ambiguity – and, when necessary, making them up – to shove his way to the center. Why he did not attempt to restore this pose earlier, I cannot say. Maybe he can only do it in debates. Or maybe conservatives had to reach a point of absolute desperation over his prospects before they would give him the ideological space. In any case, he dodged almost every point in the right wing canon in a way that seemed to catch Obama off-guard.

Romney was able to take advantage of the fact that Obama has a record, and he does not. Obama has had to grapple with trade-offs, and Romney has not. So Romney is a candidate of a 20% cut in tax rates, a new plan to cover people with preexisting conditions, and higher defense spending, and he will accomplish it all by eliminating federal funding for PBS. He would not accept that his proposal would result in any tradeoffs at all – no lower funding for education, no reductions in Medicare for anybody currently retired. He insisted his plan would not cut taxes for the rich, which is false. He described his proposal to allow people with continuous health insurance to keep it – a right that, as Obama already noted, already exists, and is therefore a meaningless promise – as a plan to cover all people with preexisting conditions.

Romney did not waste a breath. Obama wasted many, with “uhs” and long, wonky discursions. He went on long, detailed riffs defending his policies, with attacks on Romney few and far between. Romney added little to his longstanding indictment of Obama, but defined himself far more effectively than he has before.
I do think the instantaneous, echo chamber reaction that is handing Romney an overwhelming victory is overstated. Romney made a huge error selling his Medicare plan, promising, “if you’re around 60, you don’t need to listen any further.” It was a moment he went from smooth to oily – when you urge voters to stop paying attention, and especially on an issue where they start off distrusting you, it heightens the distrust. Obama replied, “if you’re 54 or 55, you might want to listen, because this will affect you.”

Okay, that should be enough to get you started. I’m already not quite as upset as I was a little while ago, because I think it’s true that Romney is going to be confronted with all the lies and backtracks he pulled in this debate.

So what are you reading and blogging about today? This is an open thread–you don’t have to discuss the debate.


Thursday Reads: Convention Hangover Edition

Good Morning!!

I’m really beat after two nights of watching the horror show down in Tampa, so today’s post is going to be a link dump. Luckily, there are lots of good reads out there.

Yesterday we were talking about how the media is handling the blatant lies of the Romney campaign on welfare and medicare. Some media outlets have actually begun calling them out and using words like “false” and even “lies.”

Some links on that topic–some of which come from yesterday’s comments, because I think this is such an important issue.

Jonathan Chait: Mitt Doesn’t Care About Your Facts.

Brian Beutler: A Critical Juncture (h/t RalphB)

James Fallows: Bit by Bit It Takes Shape: Media Evolution for the ‘Post-Truth’ Age (h/t JJ)

Robert Reich: How Romney Keeps Lying Through HIs Big White Teeth

Dave Wiegel: “You Didn’t Build That”…But You Sure Did Edit It.

Now, some important reads on Romney/Ryan and race-baiting.

Harold Meyerson: In modern GOP, the old South returns (h/t RalphB)

Ron Fournier: Why (and How) Romney is Playing the Race Card (h/t JJ)

Joan Walsh: Paul Ryan and the GOP’s New Dog Whistle Politics

By now everyone knows that a CNN camera woman was harassed at the GOP Convention. Two attendees reportedly threw nuts at her and said “This is how we feed animals.” They were removed, but no one knows if they were permanently banned. CNN has chosen not to reveal the camera woman’s name or the names of the perpetrators–why?

Greg Sargent: CNN should reveal details of nut-throwing incident

Digby: CNN is fighting the perception of being biased against racist thugs

Digby harked back to the famous incident when Dan Rather was attacked by a security person at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 and pointed out that Rather and Walter Cronkite didn’t shrink from commenting on the thuggish behavior.

Several links about Tuesday night’s top speakers, Ann Romney and Chris Christie

Connor Friedersdorf: Chris Christie’s RNC Speech Misled Viewers on Medicare

Andrew Rosenthal: Chris Christie: But Enough About Mitt, Let’s Talk About Me

Errol Lewis: Tough Truths About Christie’s New Jersey

Politico: Chris Christie’s Flop at the GOP Convention

E.J. Graff: Ann Romney Loves Women!

Adam Serwer: Ann Romney and the Subversive Conservatism of ABC’s ‘Modern Family’

Don’t Miss this one! Ed Kilgore: Who’s Zoomin’ Who on Abortion?

E.J. Dionne: In defense of Juan Williams (and Chris Matthews)

Today is the last day of the GOP Convention, and tonight is Mitt’s big moment!

Gail Collins: Renovating Mitt Romney

Dana Millbank: Republicans playing Brutus

Michael Kinsley: Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Todd Akin: Going for distance

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


David Corn’s Latest: Romney Lied in his Most Recent Financial Disclosure

At Mother Jones, Corn writes:

The ongoing hullabaloo over the timing of Mitt Romney’s exit from Bain has become a bit absurd. The Romney camp and Bain insist that Romney fully retired in February 1999 from the private equity firm he founded and owned—even though in the past he and Bain have described his departure as a part-time leave—and evidence has emerged (including Securities and Exchange documents I first reported) showing that Romney was involved to some extent in Bain as late as 2002, while he continued to maintain his ownership of the firm and its various entities. Romney has been working hard to avoid being held responsible for any post-February 1999 Bain deals that might have resulted in bankruptcies or outsourcing. But there is another reason for the Romney crew to worry about this controversy: Romney may have made a false statement on a federal financial disclosure form, and doing so is a felony punishable by up to one year of imprisonment and a $50,000 fine.

Like all presidential candidates, Romney has to submit a financial disclosure statement to the Office of Government Ethics. He filed his most recent one last month, and the disclosure contains a very clearly stated footnote:

Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake [Olympics] Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.

There’s no ambiguity there: not involved in Bain operations in any way. But that’s not true.

At the link, Corn enumerates many SEC filings that put the lie to Romney’s statement to the Office of Government Ethics. In addition, Corn blasts Glenn Kessler, “fact-checker” for the WaPo for his sycophantic defenses of Romney’s lies and half-truths. Read the whole thing at the link.

Also at Mother Jones, Adam Serwer has compiled a list of “everything we know so far about Romney and Bain.”

Please use this as an open thread. JJ will have a cartoon post later on.