Thursday Reads: Animal Psychology, Republican Race-Baiting, Obama’s Drone War, and More

Good Morning!!

Before I get to political news, here’s an interesting story that has nothing to do with the upcoming 2012 elections: Suicidal dogs and bipolar wolves. It’s an interview with Laurel Braitman, a PhD candidate at MIT and the author of an upcoming book, Animal Madness. As someone who strongly believes that animals have personalities and strong emotions, I’m looking forward to check out her book. Here’s just a bit of the interview, conducted by Malcolm Harris of New Inquiry Magazine.

MH: How did you get involved in writing about mental illness in other animals in particular?

LB: I was doing something completely different but I had gone to graduate school for history of science at MIT. I had originally gone there to do research on the aquarium fishery in the Amazon basin. But I had a dog at the time, my partner and I had adopted a Burnese Mountain Dog. And he was fine for the first six months and then he went spectacularly crazy. He developed a debilitating case of separation anxiety. If we left him alone he would destroy himself, the house, anything in the way. He nearly killed himself at least once. So I had to take him to the vet hospital after he jumped out of our 4th floor apartment, and they said I had to take him to a veterinary behaviorist who would give him a prescription for Prozac and Valium. I was stopped in my tracks. I had heard there were some animals taking these drugs, but I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would put an animal on Prozac. But I found myself in a desperate situation with a 120 pound dog and I tried all these things and they didn’t work, so I became that person that puts her dog on antidepressants. Prozac didn’t work for him really, but the Valium did, at least in the short term. And I began to get curious about how these drugs got into vet clinics in the first place and if there was something to this. Was my dog responding to these drugs in the some of the same ways that people do?

I ended up switching what I was studying because I couldn’t find anything written about the history of this. My PhD research is now the story of what the last 150 years have to tell us about mental illness in other animals. Can they be crazy? Who says they’re crazy? How did the industry around animal mental health come to be? And how do we make other animals feel better? That’s the question that interests me most. Once you notice that another animal is disturbed or anxious– what do we do then? I’ve spent the last few years traveling all over the world to talk to people who are making it their life’s work to help these animals – whether they are elephants or dogs or birds.

What a brilliant idea!

And now, once again we move from the sublime to the ridiculous–and offensive. The Romney campaign is up to it’s old dirty tricks, sending their meanest surrogates out to race bait again. First up, Newt Gingrich says Obama is “not a real president.”

“[Obama] really is like the substitute [National Football League] referees in the sense that he’s not a real president,” Gingrich told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Tuesday night. “He doesn’t do anything that presidents do, he doesn’t worry about any of the things the presidents do, but he has the White House, he has enormous power, and he’ll go down in history as the president, and I suspect that he’s pretty contemptuous of the rest of us.”

Unbelievable! And there’s more:

“This is a man who in an age of false celebrity-hood is sort of the perfect president, because he’s a false president,” he said. “He’s a guy that doesn’t do the president’s job.”


“You have to wonder what he’s doing,” Gingrich continued. “I’m assuming that there’s some rhythm to Barack Obama that the rest of us don’t understand. Whether he needs large amounts of rest, whether he needs to go play basketball for a while or watch ESPN, I mean, I don’t quite know what his rhythm is, but this is a guy that is a brilliant performer as an orator, who may very well get reelected at the present date, and who, frankly, he happens to be a partial, part-time president.”

It kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Next up, John Sununu: Obama Is “Absolutely Lazy And Detached From His Job”

“Look, let me tell you what the big problem with this president is in my opinion. He is absolutely lazy and detached from his job. When he doesn’t go and attended 60% of the detailed presidential daily briefings that come from the CIA and thinks he can just skim it, skim the summary paper on his iPad instead of sitting down and engaging in what — I was in the White House with George Herbert Walker Bush. He took that brief everyday. George W. Bush took it everyday and I believe that Bill Clinton took it everyday. This president thinks he’s smarter than those guys and he doesn’t have to engage in the discussion. That’s the most important half-hour of the day for a president who has to protect the security of the United States,” Romney surrogate John Sununu said on Hannity.

Watch the video at the link, if you can stand it.

JJ posted about how Romney unsuccessfully tried to get an audience to chant his name along with Ryan’s. Dopey Republican talk show host Joe Scarborough was driven to calling out for Jesus when he saw the video.

After Romney gave a shout out to his running mate, Paul Ryan, in Vandalia, Ohio on Tuesday, the crowd got excited and began chanting, “Ryan! Ryan!”

“Wait a second,” Romney said, reminding the crowd that he was at the top of the ticket.

“Romney-Ryan, Romney-Ryan,” the former governor instructed the crowd, although most of them ignored him. “There we go.”

After co-host Mika Brzezinski played the video on Wednesday, Scarborough could only put his hands over his eyes and utter, “Oh, sweet Jesus.” ….

“You know what? You don’t fix it…I say this about Mitt Romney, he’s a great man. He is. He’s a great father. He’s a great husband. He is a great business man, great turnaround guy. If I had a business anywhere in the world, I’d have him run it. He just — he’s a horrible politician. He’s one of the worst.”

Now a critique of President Obama. Conor Friedersdorf writes: Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama.

I don’t see how anyone who confronts Obama’s record with clear eyes can enthusiastically support him. I do understand how they might concluded that he is the lesser of two evils, and back him reluctantly, but I’d have thought more people on the left would regard a sustained assault on civil liberties and the ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids as deal-breakers.

Read the whole thing at the link. I know there are a number of people here at Sky Dancing Blog who feel the same way. The problem I have with the argument is that every president we’ve had in my lifetime–and even in my parents’ lifetimes has committed horrible foreign policy crimes. President after president has increased executive power in unacceptable ways. Romney would probably be worse in that way than Obama.

When I was Conor Friedersdorf’s age, I also refused to vote for either major party candidate–many times. Where did it get me? The other problem I have with Friedersdorf is that if he votes it will be for the Libertarian Party candidate.

There is a candidate on the ballot in at least 47 states, and probably in all 50, who regularly speaks out against that post-9/11 trend, and all the individual policies that compose it. His name is Gary Johnson, and he won’t win. I am supporting him because he ought to. Liberals and progressives care so little about having critiques of the aforementioned policies aired that vanishingly few will even urge that he be included in the upcoming presidential debates. If I vote, it will be for Johnson. What about the assertion that Romney will be even worse than Obama has been on these issues? It is quite possible, though not nearly as inevitable as Democrats seem to think. It isn’t as though they accurately predicted the abysmal behavior of Obama during his first term, after all. And how do you get worse than having set a precedent for the extrajudicial assassination of American citizens? By actually carrying out such a killing? Obama did that too. Would Romney? I honestly don’t know. I can imagine he’d kill more Americans without trial and in secret, or that he wouldn’t kill any. I can imagine that he’d kill more innocent Pakistani kids or fewer. His rhetoric suggests he would be worse. I agree with that. Then again, Romney revels in bellicosity; Obama soothes with rhetoric and kills people in secret.

To hell with them both.

I can’t disagree that Obama’s drone attacks are dreadful and shameful. Yesterday Raw Story highlighted a story on Obama’s drone wars from Democracy Now, Law professors: Drones have turned Pakistan into ‘war zone’

Stanford professor James Cavallaro and New York University professor Sarah Knuckey travelled to Pakistan to study the effects the drone strikes had on civilians.

“What we found, much to our surprise, was, first of all, that there is significant evidence of civilian casualties,” Knuckey said. “Most reliable evidence indicates between 400 and 800 civilian casualties since 2004. Second, that more than the deaths and injuries to civilians, there’s broad mental health impacts for people. They are unable to protect themselves from the drones, which fly 24 hours a day.”

I’m not sure why they were surprised.

Cavallaro added that the constant drone strikes had caused people in Pakistan to live in fear, causing significant societal and psychological effects. He said that people were afraid to congregate in groups or attend funerals, which are sometimes targeted.

“In short, there’s a breakdown in basic social engagement that we’ve documented, and what it adds up to is thousands of people living in a region where drones cause them to experience life as though they were in a war zone,” Cavallaro said. “And the last time I checked, the United States had not declared war on Pakistan.”

What can we do to stop this? Someone please spell out some specific methods that would work to change this dreadful policy. I spent years protesting the Vietnam War, and it still went on. We’ve had war after war since. Perhaps protests have had some effect in terms of calling attention to the horrible policies, but the wars always go on. The war in Afghanistan has lasted longer than Vietnam did.

The Washington Post has an article on “Why Europe is looking like a mess (again).” Dakinikat can judge whether it’s a good explanation or not. It makes sense to me.

What’s happening is as frustrating for Europe watchers as it was inevitable. For the nearly three years that the euro-zone crisis has been underway, a startlingly reliable pattern has set in. Whenever the European Central Bank steps up and deploys its bottomless ability to print euros to ease the panic on financial markets, everyone else steps down. The political leaders in financially troubled southern European nations see less urgency to the budget-cutting demanded of them by the ECB, the International Monetary Fund and other international creditors. Germany, Finland and other strong Northern European countries dig in their heels on what concessions they demand for aid.

Then the ECB steps back, lets market forces threaten to get out of control again (specifically, by letting bond yields rise) and forces the politicians to act in their common interest. Rinse and repeat.

Earlier this month, it seemed that the ECB had finally broken this routine. With tacit approval from powerful German political leaders (though not Germany’s central bank), ECB President Mario Draghi introduced a program to buy European nations’ debt on a potentially unlimited scale, but with major conditions. The most important at the moment is that a country must formally request the assistance and, in the process, agree to financial conditions from the international lenders.

I’ll end with this long read by the estimable Alec MacGillis at The New Republic: How Paul Ryan Convinced Washington of His Genius. It’s much too long for an excerpt to give a sense of the piece, but I’ll give you just a taste.

Ryan clearly surrounded himself with the right people, but he also benefited from a big structural change that was taking place on the Hill. In 1995, Gingrich slashed committee staffs, creating an opening for members of congressmen’s own offices to become more involved in policy-making than they previously would have been. Simply put, you didn’t have to know as much to be influential. Ryan spotted his opening. “It used to be a closed-down system where the committee had all the staff and expertise, and this shifted powers to the members more broadly,” said Matt Kibbe, who became friendly with Ryan while working on the staff of another House Republican.

The effects of the purge have lingered to this day, says Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of both the Reagan and first Bush administrations. After 1994, he explains, “the institutional knowledge about policy was gone, and it’s never been replaced. And as a consequence, it’s not that hard to do what Paul has done”—by which he means: build a reputation as a policy expert. The mystery is why others haven’t caught on. “I’ve never understood why other backbenchers don’t realize there’s an opportunity for anyone who becomes credibly knowledgeable about some issue that people care about,” he says.

So Ryan cleverly stepped into the vacuum and conned a lot of Congresspeople and media dopes.

Crucially, Ryan chose as his area of expertise the budget, an issue that was both broadly relevant to everything else going on in government and esoteric enough to scare off many others….

During the time when he was first studying the budget, Ryan was also firming up his ideological convictions….Ryan, according to Rob Wasinger, who was working under him at the time, was constantly citing a rather different writer. “I probably heard more about Ayn Rand than anything else in terms of his thinking on things,” Wasinger says. “It was basically a lot of references to Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.” Meanwhile, Ryan was spending more time with like-minded libertarians at conservative organizations, particularly the Cato Institute, hiring staffers from its ranks and bandying tax-cutting proposals back and forth.

It’s a fascinating article, and MacGillis is a terrific writer. I hope you check it out.

This post is waaaay too long–sorry about that. Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today.

74 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Animal Psychology, Republican Race-Baiting, Obama’s Drone War, and More”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    Whoa, what a roundup of heavy duty, put on your thinking cap or take a few chill pills post. I have to get ready for work, so I can’t follow the links right now. Obviously, the first piece about animal psychology interests me. I have to say that it also concerns me. We know so very little about animal behavior and the fact that the veterinary community has moved to treating animals with “behavior problems” with human type medication has always seemed, to me at least, like taking the “easy” way out. I think both Jackson Galaxy & Victoria Stillwell have demonstrated that the behavior problems of cats & dogs are more often than not a problem with the behavior of the humans in the equation.

    I also think it’s interesting that the new attack on Obama from the Right is that he’s just too cool, calm & collected amidst both the campaign & the state of the world. My, my it’s just unnatural, don’t you know. After all, as Ann Romney has told us all, THIS IS HARD! Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to break a sweat so he must not be doing it right. Thanks for those links and all the others. I plan to dive in tonight. Another thought provoking and fascinating post, bb.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Connie. I’m not sure about the medication issue either, but I have no doubt that animals have personalities. Of course humans are the source of their pets’ neuroses, just as parents and other environmental factors contribute to psychological disorders in humans. The part that I question is whether animals have genetic tendencies toward disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the same way humans do. I doubt if Braitman is claiming that. I’d like to read her book when it comes out though.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Of course individual animals have personalities. The problem? I doubt that the majority of people agree with that statement. Regarding the disorders found in humans, I honestly can’t say whether other animals suffer from those. I certainly haven’t experienced it & I’ve had more than my share of animals (cats/dogs) in my life. But that’s just anecdotal evidence. The majority of genetic problems found in animals are physical problems generally associated with specific breeds of dogs. As I have often said, ethology is still a new science. Lorenz & Tinbergen “founded” this discipline in the mid to late 60s. In the scope of the sciences, ethology is in its infancy. Frankly, cats & dogs haven’t been a primary focus in the field, something my major professor & I clashed over when I was an undergraduate. The focus has been on “wild” animals mostly. I think you would like the books by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Marc Bekoff.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I seriously doubt that animals suffer from the same psych disorders as humans. Those disorders have evolved in humans as they adapted to environmental stresses. It just doesn’t make sense that animals would have developed the same genetic tendencies. For one thing, animal brains are not as complex as human brains.

      • surfric says:

        Fascinating topic, and great round up. It’s unbelievable what some of these Republicans are getting away with saying about Obama, and I have to believe it is due to race. Not even our historically lazy presidents have been disrespected like this. Thanks for those incredible quotes.

        Re the drugs for pets article, I would hope that medications for behavioral problems will be used as they should be used in humans, that is uncommonly and as a last resort. Hard to argue with the author’s case of a giant dog that literally needed to take a Valium, though.

        No, our pets are not likely to have the same disorders people get. For one thing, dogs for example have been bred for hundreds of years to mold physical and behavioral traits. From the law of unintended consequences we can expect lots of problems the breeders didn’t anticipate. For another, pets have a vastly different experience in life, one of being owned. You can argue the pros and cons of living this way, but as a result I would think pets might be prone more to say, dependency issues than existential angst.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Good points.

      • I couldn’t resist, so I read the full Salon article. I am impressed & now must get her book. It appears that trying to deal with her dog is simply what led her in the direction of getting a better understanding of animal behavior. She even cited Bekoff (love that guy) in the interview. I so agree with her take on captivity. I am SO GLAD you posted the link to this because I would have missed it – unless she ends up doing an interview on NPR. THANK YOU!

      • peggysue22 says:

        I had to jump in on this one because I’ve had two Bernese Mountain dogs [in fact, I had to put my 10-year old Berner down last week–malignant mass in her chest. Last week was pretty ragged for everyone]. In any case, the Bernese are wonderful dogs, sweet natured and regular couch potatoes as they age. But as puppies? They are challenging to say the least.

        One of the problems is breeding and the fact that Berner’s have become popular. There are people who breed because they love the animals. Then there are others who treat breeding like a sausage factory–grind them out as quickly as possible, strictly for money purposes without any consideration for health or behavioral traits. We’ve all heard of ‘puppy mills’ and sadly as soon as a particular breed becomes popular, the money grubbers hop on the breeding train.

        Bernese Mountain dogs are big, strong, handsome animals. They command a hefty price in the marketplace. So I suspect part of this was due to breeding and lack of socialization or poor handling when the animal was a wee pup. These are sensitive animals; they require a lot of tender loving care. But they’re worth it. They give that love and loyalty back ten fold.

        As for personalities? Absolutely. I’ve lived with puppies all my life. And each one has had his/her own unique personality. Dogs are sensitive to outside stimuli, too. If you’re tense and nervous, chances are your animal will be, too. My sister, for instance? Every single dog she’s owned was a nut case :0).

        Anyway, I hope Braitman rattles some chains in the dog world. We have enough crazy people in the world. We don’t need that spilling over on our pups.

        Btw, I wandered over to Red State last night and read a post by Eric Erickson, where he said pointedly that he does not believe the polling conspiracy theories, that Obama is indeed pulling ahead of Romney. You want to talk about crazies. He was savaged on his own blog, called everything in the book.

        The Republicans made a huge mistake when they encouraged and invited this fringe element under the tent, and then fanned their worst instincts. The party is now paying for that folly. Dealing with fire, too. Some of these people are truly unhinged.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It looks like the book isn’t coming out soon, unfortunately. It’s not listed at Amazon yet.

      • Fannie says:

        I just read today where a 60 year old woman was killed by the family pit bull……………..sad, not to mention the 3 year old killed last month in Texas……………

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Gawker discusses Roger Simon’s supposed “satire” about Gilligan and Stench:

    UPDATE: Roger Simon is now telling BuzzFeed that the portion of his report quoted above was “satire.” We’re a bit confused by his interpretation of satire, as he’s referring to a single false fact (concocted by him?) in an otherwise mostly accurate piece, but here’s his statement: “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”

    One question: why hasn’t Ryan stood up and countered Craig Robinson’s statement that Ryan will have to “wash the stench of Romney off him” if he wants to run for higher office again?

  3. Fabulous BB, off to check those links. I have to share this with y’all cause it is hilarious:

  4. BB, you may find this interesting, All American Presidential Elections Are Choices Between Evils – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

    It is Scott Lemieux’s take on the Friedersdorf article.

    Also, BBC News – Herbert Lom, Pink Panther star, dies aged 95 Always enjoyed him in the panther movies, but he was also great in The Lady Killers.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m so sick and tired of male pundits minimizing the effects of anti-women legislation and court decisions. If women are denied birth control and/or abortion, women will die. People die because of anti-gay legislation and prejudice too. Look how aids was ignored for years. These aren’t minor problem that should be pooh poohed in favor the “manly” focus on war. People like Greenwald and Friedersdorf need to spell out exactly how voting for a third party will stop the drone strikes, indef. detention, etc.

    • RalphB says:

      I agree with Erik Loomis at LG&M though I would change the post title to “An Essay Only a Privileged While Male Could Write”.

      An Essay Only a White Person Could Write

      Connor Friedersdorf writes the kind of political essay I can’t see anyone but a privileged white person writing. Going as far as to nearly (but not quite he says!) compare President Obama to an apologist for slavery, he can’t stomach voting for Obama because of his policies in Pakistan, drones, etc.

      Instead, he says we should vote for Gary Johnson since there’s a candidate who won’t do those things.

      In a sense I respect it when people care so much about one issue that they can’t vote for any candidate who disagrees. On the other hand, Friedersdorf doesn’t seem to care one iota about the horrible economic and social policies a Romney administration would enact. He doesn’t seem to care at all about labor, abortion rights, gay rights, environmental policy, etc., etc. It’s all about drones, civil liberties, and such. And Obama has indeed sucked on those issues.

      But given that Friedersdorf probably doesn’t have to worry much about his next paycheck or be concerned about having an unwanted fetus in his body, it’s a luxury for him to be a one-issue voter on this particular issue. It’s all too typical of a lot of angry left-wing white men from Glenn Greenwald on down who live privileged enough lives that they can find the one issue where there really aren’t any differences on the two parties and instead suggest alternatives that completely ignore the poor in this country, whether being Paul-curious to not voting to voting for a whacko like Gary Johnson.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Fox News has become nothing more than a “dropping off point” for morons brought on the air to wave their stupidity in front of the cameras as their uninformed audience sits back believing this is “poltical dialogue”.

    Newt Gingrich as a case in point along with Ann Coulter, Laura Ingram, Monica Crowley,, Michele Malkin who seem to take turns with Caribou Barbie to “out” their personal hatred and release their bile.

    Imagine Obama saying the same things against these fools: the press would go wild!.

    Referring to a sitting president as unAmerican, corrupt, racist and lazy is unimaginable but Fox thrives in this atmosphere where “anything goes”.

    But I guess it happens when you are supporting a dismal candidate like Romney and the best you can offer is a dose of “neener, neener” to get your point across.

    The sad part is that many of their viewers take this stuff to heart which tends to support the theory that half of the GOP firmly believes that Obama is foreign born with an agenda that favors the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • surfric says:

      Well said. I wonder whom among the telebimbos you cite from Fox do Skydancers consider the worst. They’re all women, so no sexism applies, though I would submit that these particular women use their feminine power and wiles in despicable, evil ways.

      I vote for Coulter. Not only is she an idiot and proud of it, she also seems to delight in saying the most disgusting things about people she disagrees with, and then reveling in the appalled controversy she created. Any other nominees?

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Michele Bachmann is another one.

        But one can’t top Sean Hannity for being totally ignorant since he has the chance each night to keep proving it whereas these people appear as occasional “guests” and flamethrowers.

        I don’t watch Fox News but the excerpted segments often appear in the blogosphere as proof of the utter stupidity that is tossed around out there that often defies logic.

        Made up facts, edited comments, outright lies from the network that calls itself “fair and balanced” as they read copy crafted by the GOP, heavy on the “talking points”.

        Their audience misinterprets propaganda for news, leaving their critical thinking skills in the hands of Bill O’Reilly.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Coulter is disgusting, but no one does a better job at stoking hatred against gays, real feminists and xenophobia than Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann is smarter than Palin and has more actual influence inside the halls of power than Palin or Coulter. She is a self-righteous, hypocritcal misinformation machine.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Bachmann is the heir apparent to the Republican Faux-Feminist movement of Phyllis Schafly.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      You left out Dick “toe sucker” Morris. He slithers in and out of there everyday sliming up the place even more than it is already slimed and laying out ridiculous ideas, one of those being the POLLS are FIXED. Just looking at him makes me nauseated.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        He is a disgusting human being and HIllary had him pegged which led to his “revelations” – most made up of course – of the Clinton marriage and her possible sexual orientation.

        Despicable man.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Foxconn workers are once again producing Apple iPhones while armed guards surround them.

  7. joanelle says:

    Long or not, it’s a Great post, BB!

  8. janicen says:

    Good, tough questions about the drone attacks. I don’t think anyone condones murdering innocent civilians. So what’s the purpose of the attacks? Are they going after suspected Al Qaeda outposts? No surprise since every time we found “Al Qaeda’s number three man” he was found in Pakistan. As well, look where Bin Laden was hiding. Clearly Pakistan harbors terrorists who have attacked and murdered United States citizens on United States soil. The solution, it seems to me, is for Pakistan to stop harboring terrorists. If anyone can come up with a humane way to accomplish defeating Al Qaeda without hurting anyone but the terrorists I’m sure people will listen, but I’m at a loss as to how to do it.

    • RalphB says:

      You’ve put your finger squarely on the problem. War, of any kind, is a hideous messy business and it’s never clean. I keep thinking of what might be different if we didn’t have those drones. Cruise missiles might have been used and, instead of taking out the target and people within a few feet of him, we might have obliterated a few hundred people instead. The question, it seems to me, is are we going to do this at all?

    • janey says:

      I am not crazy about these drone attacks either but if you are going to condone a war, you give power to all those people to do horrible stuff. 2. I am old enough to know that voting for president is choosing the lesser of two evils. If you are disappointed in Obama, would you rather have the utter destruction that Romney would bring? I hope not!!

  9. pdgrey says:

    Interesting links BB. Here is a dog that is not suicidal! just for fun

  10. RalphB says:

    Molly Ball observes both campaigns in Ohio.

    The Atlantic: Romney Is Flailing in Ohio

    KENT, Ohio — As I was leaving an Obama campaign rally here — roaring, enthusiastic, packed with gleeful liberals and bright-eyed college kids — a red pickup truck festooned with “NOBAMA” signs was circling the perimeter, the man at the wheel yelling unintelligible slogans. He passed by a heavyset woman in a fuzzy pink sweater who was sitting on the rain-dampened sidewalk, smoking a cigarette. “Your friend’s losing, dude!” she called out.
    Seeing the candidates campaign in the state back-to-back, as I did, neatly illustrated the divergent mood between the two camps — one flailing, one on a confident roll. The Obama campaign is clicking on all cylinders, consistent, smoothly choreographed and slickly produced; Romney’s appearances are a jumble, his tone of voice pleading to the point of desperation, his speech constantly improvised from a Frankenstinian array of spare messaging parts, never quite gelling into a focused whole. Obama’s crowds are a Bieber-like fan-throng; Romney’s are only passionately angry. A visitor from another planet who didn’t speak a word of any human language could tell which one was up and which was down.

  11. ANonOMouse says:

    Very good post BB!

    I particularly like this observation:

    ” I know there are a number of people here at Sky Dancing Blog who feel the same way. The problem I have with the argument is that every president we’ve had in my lifetime–and even in my parents’ lifetimes has committed horrible foreign policy crimes. President after president has increased executive power in unacceptable ways. Romney would probably be worse in that way than Obama.”

    I totally agree with that conclusion BB. There is no POTUS, in my lifetime, who doesn’t have some blood on his hands concerning foreign policy. I don’t know exactly how you do that job without getting blood on your hands.

    In my lifetime we went from WWII, to Korea, to Vietnam, to aid, training,arms and covert military support for some of the worlds most despicable politicians, tyrannts and despots, to Gulf War I, to the Afghanistan War to the Iraq War and we did it all for “National Security”. I won’t even pretend to understand what was and wasn’t moral in all that. I will say this, I have had family in every war in the past 75 years and I’ve never known one of them who served on the battlefield that didn’t come home with nightmare stories about what they did or what they were asked to do. So about drone attacks, if not the drone WHAT? Do people actually think that a force of soldiers doing the work of a drone wouldn’t kill innocent people? REMEMBER VIETNAM? Do people actually think that a force of soldiers doing the work of a drone wouldn’t result in more U.S. deaths? REMEMBER WWII, VIETNAM, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN?

    And some of the arguments I’m hearing and reading about sovereignity makes me wonder why are people worried about the sovereign rights of Pakistan concerning drones and “extrajudicial” raids to get Bin Laden or to get other leaders of Al Quaeda and not have the same concern about the sovereign rights of Iran? I”m not defending Iran, I’m simply saying you can’t set your hair on fire over drones and extrajudical killings and abuse of power while simultaneously supporting candidates who have indicated they would take us to premptive war with Iran. Goddam, didn’t we just spend 8 years of protracted national grief. losing thousands of American lives and tens-of-thousands of Iraqi lives over a preemptive war to stop the boogey man? The GOP/TP is in heat over the opportunity to go thump Iran in the name of Israel and U.S. security and they know extrajudical, they know torture and rendition and how to use drones. WTF are people thinking??????

    Look, I know who fights these wars and it AIN’T the people who lead us to them. It is the children and grandchildren of people like me and we’re fucking sick of it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I hate the drone attacks. In my mind they are evil. Are they necessary to contain terrorism? I really don’t know. Based on the clusterf&ck the FBI has created in this country–setting up young kids and then busting them as “terrorists,” I have to wonder. But what can we do to stop it?

      I think we CAN fight back against the war on women and LGBT’s. And we’ll save a lot of lives doing it. I just question these men who take the libertarian point of view, but don’t seemingly don’t value women’s and LGBT’s autonomy at all.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I hate the drone attacks too. I hate war, like you I protested during Vietnam, I protested against the Iraq war, but I don’t see the drone attacks any differently than firing artillery or dropping bombs into villages in advance of troops. It looks more cold blooded, but it isn’t.

      • NW Luna says:


  12. RalphB says:

    Compare and contrast to Romney’s me and a camera ad.

  13. ANonOMouse says:

    P.S. No matter what Mr.Friedersdorf says, no 3rd party candidate is going to win, period, end of story. So he can cast a protest vote, but he can’t change the reality of our choices and I’m voting for the guy who has ended one war and is winding down the other. The GOP/TP would still have us in Iraq, in fact Romney regularly laments that we should still have troops there, and he has said he wouldn’t give a timeframe for leaving Afghanistan. Goddam, we’ve already been there longer than the USSR was, and they left with their tails tucked and broke. Can’t the GOP learn from history?

    • peggysue22 says:

      Well isn’t that special! I thought he was going to get ‘tough’ on China.

      Hahahaha! Great find, BB.

      • bostonboomer says:

        From the above link:

        Over the past two years, as the presidential race approached, a lawyer overseeing his family’s trusts sold off numerous shares of stock in Chinese state-owned firms, including the 2011 sale of shares in a Chinese oil company. Romney had pledged in 2007 to eliminate any investments that conflicted with his political beliefs, but his trusts kept many of the Chinese investments and other politically-sensitive holdings until 2010 and 2011.

        Maybe that’s another reason Romney doesn’t want anyone to see his tax returns pre-2010.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “I thought he was going to get ‘tough’ on China”

        Well, he’s just kinda-sorta going to get tough on China. He’ll probably not watch their ping-pong team compete in the 2016 Olympics. But he’ll take their donations and use their slave labor factories cause it’s about the money, honey! 🙂

    • Beata says:

      “Leave Mitt Romney Alone!” 🙂

      Another great post today, BB. I’m impressed as always with the intelligence of Sky Dancer commenters. They are some of the brightest, most insightful people on the Interwebs. I love the diversity of interests and knowledge I find here. Thanks, everyone.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m impressed with you, Beata! I’m also excited that Indiana is beginning to lean purple again. What are you hearing about the Senate race?

      • Beata says:

        Donnelly and Mourdock are very close in the polls. The Democrats do see a possible Senate pick-up here. National Democratic groups ( the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and super PACS aligned with Harry Reid ) are putting money into Donnelly’s campaign. Mourdock is also getting out-of-state money. Lots of ads on TV for both candidates. It’s going to be a real fight. Donnelly is a Blue Dog Catholic so it’s hard to attack him as a Marxist-Leninist Muslim. He would probably be running as a moderate Republican in most states. I would prefer a liberal, of course, but Blue Dogs are what we get here. Mourdock is so far to the right, it’s scary. Daniels and Lugar have distanced themselves from him. Democrats need to GOTV. That’s what it’s all going to come down to.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for your assessment. I agree Donnelly isn’t much of a Democrat, but Mourdock is insane.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s is great!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I found it on Youtube.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        It is absolutely fabulous. It made me laugh until I cried and it mirrors what you and
        Dak and JJ and most everyone else who posts here say everyday. WAKE THE FUCK UP!

      • Beata says:

        OMG!!! The best campaign ad I’ve seen this year!

        WAKE THE FUCK UP, PEOPLE!!! This election matters even more than it did in 2008. Romney and Ryan are radical corporate-worshipping social Darwinists who don’t give a shit about you. They’ve said it’s not their job to care about your life or the lives of your loved ones. So wake up, listen, and learn. Then get out there and vote like your future depends on it, because it does.

  14. Boo Radly says:

    Another super post BB – thanks! Could not agree with you more on each subject.

  15. Pat Johnson says:

    I am still sticking to my premise that the voters are actually waking up and REJECTING both Romney and the GoP based on what they are proposing rather than on the fact that Obama is “all that and a bag of chips”.

    Had it not been Romney we would still be looking at one of those wingnuts like Santorum, Gingrich, Perry or Cain as the nominee and the result would still be the same. Losers making a losing argument based on Tea Partiers who feel threatened, abused, and “victimized” thanks to the propaganda that has been preached that became more apparent when a mixed race man became POTUS.

    Romney may be a failure as a candidate but he also is carrying the baggage of the GoP platform that would have been handed off to any of the others had they won the primary and this is what the majority of the nation is against.

    Obama has been lucky enough to be cast alongside these nuts and come out looking probably a whole lot better by comparison. They almost make him appear “majestic” when weighing the crapola this party currently represents.

    You can only wage wars against women, children, seniors, vets, gays, students, the environment, regulations, healthcare access, and collective bargaining before the sh*t actually hits the fan and lands on those who would be disenfranchised should these dimwits have their way.

    Barack Obama is a very fortunate man as of today. Let’s hope he does not forget that after November.

    • Beata says:

      Pat, I agree with what BB has written in the past – Obama has matured in office. I see progress toward a more liberal second term for him, especially if we can vote the Tea Party crazies out. Obama ain’t FDR and he never will be, but Romney/Ryan make him look good.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It could happen if we hold his feet to the fire. This time he has campaigned as a liberal, and we need to hold him to it. No more grand bargains, no more catfood commission nonsense. Obama has to have seen that Americans aren’t going to accept privatizing Medicare and Social Security. He’s right that change comes from the outside–us!!

      • RalphB says:

        I agree. He has campaigned as more of a liberal this time. Holding him to it is up to us and I think we can be up to the task.

      • NW Luna says:

        He’s matured somewhat; still no FDR. (Not that anyone here thinks he is.)

        I am skeptical how we can “hold his feet to the fire” and make him indeed be more liberal. That didn’t work for the hope-n-changers during his first term, let alone the first two years. It’s not voters’ fault that a POTUS doesn’t keep his campaign promises.

        Obama is the one who must hold himself accountable.

    • peggysue22 says:

      I agree, Pat. Barack Obama has been a very fortunate man throughout his entire political career! :0) This year is no exception because he is definitely vulnerable and could have faced a serious challenge had the GOP shaken off the crazy element and supported someone like a Jon Huntsman. I don’t agree with Huntsman on a lot of issues but when candidates are thrown to the curb because they have the audacity to believe in climate change and evolution or for being logical human beings, you end up with the clown parade. In addition to the endless declarations that the likes of Paul Ryan are intellectual heavy weights because they wallow in Ayn Rand theology.

      You can fool some of the people some of the time. The American people are beginning to wake up to the lunacy and blatant hate the Republicans have been dishing out via Fox News and their right-wing nutzoids. Hope it holds. Also hope Barack Obama doesn’t take his conservative streak and march it down Main Street during a second term. Otherwise, we’re in for very hard times. Spain and Greece are exploding over these destructive austerity measures. The pain and dislocation these bankers are exacting on mass populations is savage.

      Fingers and toes crossed for our own.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Dump Geithner & bring back Sheila Bair. That would be a great Day 1 task for Obama. If not Ms. Bair, how about Krugman?

  16. RalphB says:

    This is one tough ad.

  17. RalphB says:

    Seems as if Friedersdorf, Greenwald, et al aren’t even fully considering human rights. It’s all about drones for the privileged white boys.

    NYT: Election May Decide When Interrogation Amounts to Torture

    In one of his first acts, President Obama issued an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of nonabusive tactics approved in the Army Field Manual. Even as he embraced a hawkish approach to other counterterrorism issues — like drone strikes, military commissions, indefinite detention and the Patriot Act — Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy.

    By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum.

  18. ANonOMouse says:

    Damn Fox News people are fixing the polls again, or not

    FOX News

    9/24 – 9/26

    1092 LV


    Obama 48

    Romney 43

    Obama +5