Tuesday Reads: Presidential Debate Take Two, The Sociopath Ticket, Warren-Brown, and a Sensata Update

Good Morning!!

I have to admit that I’m a nervous wreck worrying about the debate tonight. I’ve been very anxious about it ever since I read that article by Jonathan Chait that Dakinikat linked to in the Monday morning post. Here’s the part that almost sent me into a full-blown panic attack:

Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor.

Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke. Ryan’s plan has never attracted Democratic support, but it is not designed for bipartisanship. Ryan deliberately built it to circumvent a Senate filibuster, stocking the plan with budget legislation that is allowed, under Senate “budget reconciliation” procedures, to pass with a simple majority. Republicans have been planning the mechanics of the vote for many months, and Republican insiders expect Romney to use reconciliation to pass the bill. Republicans would still need to control 50 votes in the Senate (Ryan, as vice-president, would cast the tiebreaking vote), but if Romney wins the presidency, he’ll likely precipitate a partywide tail wind that would extend to the GOP’s Senate slate.

{{Shiver}} That’s scarier than a slasher movie. It could all depend on President Obama’s performance in tonight’s town hall style debate. Of course we’ll be having a live blog. The debate begins at 9PM Eastern.

There are countless journalists, bloggers, and talking heads advising President Obama what to do tonight. I’m just going to share one that I think goes pretty well with Chait’s predictions about a Romney presidency. It is offered by Jeffrey Feldman, who is somewhat of an expert on “framing.” Feldman suggests that One Word Can Win the Next Debate. The word is “restructuring,” which, according to Feldman is what Romney wants to do to the entire country.

Almost four years after it was published, his New York Times Op-Ed “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” is still the clearest statement of a sociopathic economic ideology that will be unleashed on the American public if Mitt Romney wins the election. President Obama would be wise to hold it up to the viewing audience multiple times in tomorrow’s presidential debate.

Published just after President Obama took office, Romney’s article takes the cavalier position that the U.S. government should not step in and help the auto industry that was at the time teetering on the brink of decline. As GM, Chrysler and Ford each fell to their knees clutching their chest, Romney was saying do not call the EMS unit, do not let anybody near them. Just let them fall to the floor, dead.

Why does Romney insist that GM, Chrysler, and Ford — three of the largest manufacturing firms in the history of the United States — be refused first aid at the very moment they fall to the floor clutching their chests? The answer lies in this Orwellian, bone-chilling phrase:

“Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself.”

I think Feldman has a great point. This would be a great way to frame Romney’s economic policies and explain how dangerous they are for those of us who don’t have offshore banking accounts in the Caymans, Switzerland, and Bermuda.

In contrast to Mitt Romney’s world of forced restructuring, the president bases his economic vision on what we already know about the destructive effects of standing back and letting the sectors of the economy on which a middle class depends go into a stratosphere free-fall.

To present this contrast with Mitt Romney’s sadistic world of forced restructuring, the president needs to do more than say he saved the auto industry or that he believes investing in the middle class is the key to economic recovery.

He needs to say that Mitt Romney looks at past suffering of working people and insists, “We need to repeat this right away” whereas Barack Obama looks at it and asks, “What can we do to make sure this never happens again?”

That would be very effective, I think. I hope President Obama has something like that up his sleeve! The White House must be confident, because they’ve arranged for Joe Biden to appear on all three network morning shows tomorrow.

Biden will appear on CBS This Morning, The Today Show, and Good Morning America, according to a network source.

The pre-booking stands in contrast to the last debate, when the Obama campaign was temporarily shell-shocked by the president’s performance. Aides waited more than 10 minutes to enter the “spin room” in Denver as they formulated a message. The following morning, aides, not high profile surrogates, took to TV.

I hope Biden calls Romney’s lies “a bunch of malarkey” and laughs his ass off!

And here’s a little bit of good news. As of yesterday late afternoon, Nate Silver’s predictive model has Obama’s electoral vote count back above 270, and his chances of reelection at 66%. It appears the Romney bump is really over. We should have a good idea tonight whether Obama will get a debate bump.

More good news, this time in the Massachusetts Senate race: Elizabeth Warren raises $12.1 million, Scott Brown $7.45 million, in latest Senate campaign quarter.

Elizabeth Warren, who has been the nation’s leading congressional fund-raiser this year, today announced raising $12.12 million during the most recent quarter for her bid to unseat Senator Scott Brown, who raised $7.45 million.

The period from July 1 through Sept. 30 was the most lucrative three-month for the Democrat since entered the Senate race last year. Warren’s previous best was the prior quarter, running from April through June, when she raised $8.6 million. Brown, the Republican incumbent, also had his best quarter, topping the $4.97 million he raised from April through June.

Brown’s best quarter and it’s far far less than Warren raised!

Overall, Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and consumer advocate, has raised about $36.3 million for her first bid for elective office. Brown has raised about $27.45 million so far, but was also helped by $7 million left over from his January 2010 special election.

“Tens of thousands of people across Massachusetts have joined this campaign because they know that Elizabeth will fight for them in the US Senate,” said a statement from Michael Pratt, Warren’s campaign finance director. “While Scott Brown has stood with billionaires, Big Oil, and Wall Street – and supports Republican control of the Senate – Elizabeth Warren has been there for middle-class families and small businesses. This strong support will help propel the campaign to victory in November.”

At the Boston Phoenix, David Berstein has an interesting piece on women and the GOP: “G(rand) O(ld) P(ricks).”

For years, I’ve chronicled in the Phoenix the dwindling ranks of Republican women in elected office, and suggested that their absence will ultimately hurt the GOP.
The moment of reckoning may be here. We can see it unfolding in the hotly contested US Senate race between incumbent Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren. The GOP’s female deficit is likely to help Warren win this election — and prevent Republicans from taking control of the Senate.

It’s not a secret that women are the swing voters expected to decide the Brown-Warren race. Warren’s campaign has relentlessly attacked Brown on women’s issues, and Brown has used his mother, wife, and daughters — and tales of himself folding laundry — to counter the onslaught.

Bernstein points out that many of these women voters like Brown, especially those whose families have income of $100,000 or more.

But every time women get wind of the GOP’s latest misogynistic outrage — such as Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s assertion that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant — it pushes them a little further away from Brown.

That might not be the case if female voters saw plenty of prominent women speaking up from within the GOP — but all they see is a party of men.

Check it out. It’s well worth a read.

Paul Ryan pretends to wash pots

I know you’ve probably heard about this already, but I can’t resist including it because it’s so funny and so typical of the Romney campaign. Paul Ryan showed up at a soup kitchen in Youngstown, Ohio run by the St. Vincent De Paul Society, a Catholic charity. By the time Ryan got late Saturday morning, breakfast was over, and the homeless clients were gone and the dishes were washed. So Ryan faked washing some pots for a photo op.

The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group’s Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall.

Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”

He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”

How typical of the sociopath ticket.

Here’s a quick update on the Bain-Sensata story. Bainport is going to have some high profile visitors soon: Bainport to host Durbin, Sharpton.

The encampment of Sensata workers at “Bainport,” now in its 35th day, will play host to several notables this week as they continue to protest the outsourcing of their jobs to China by the end of 2012….

On Tuesday, the Democratic challenger for the Illinois 17th District Congressional seat, Cheri Bustos, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin will visit the workers at their campsite.
“Since day one of her campaign, Cheri Bustos has been standing with workers across Illinois,” said Bustos’ campaign spokesman, Arden Manning. “Bain Capital is actually afforded tax breaks to shut down the Sensata plant. … She’ll fight to end outsourcing by giving tax breaks to companies that bring jobs home.” ….

Also visiting Freeport this week will be activist Reverend Al Sharpton. He is scheduled to appear at the Sensata camp on Saturday at 4 p.m. to speak to the employees.
The appearances this week follow an active summer of rallies that saw the arrival of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond to Freeport.

Power to the people!

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?

41 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Presidential Debate Take Two, The Sociopath Ticket, Warren-Brown, and a Sensata Update”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Wow, the corporate media is really pushing Romney this morning. They are writing Obama’s epitaph at Morning Joe. Mark Halperin claims Romney can win Ohio, Joe Scarborough says he can win Pennsylvania (!). I sure hope Obama is paying attention and getting mad.

    Frank Rich says everything is hopeless because the Tea Party will win in the end.

  2. bostonboomer says:


    I have yet to leave home for the events in Hemptstead on Tuesday evening, and still the horse-race template of this second debate is already set. It is a paint-by-numbers deal for the elite political media, most of which, I guarantee you, already knows what it’s going to say at the end of the night. Unless Romney comes out dressed like Anton LaVey, or the president starts reading, unbidden, from Soul On Ice, nothing either of these guys say to Candy Crowley and a room full of New Yorkers will be treated as being of any real consequence. Romney has so battered the political dialogue — and the English language — with his 100-pound bullshit sledge that he has pretty much shaped the narrative of the campaign in such a fashion that his fanatical devotion to barefaced non-facts has become a weird kind of status quo. Far too many people in this business have accepted the Etch-A-Sketch argument to the point at which whether something is true or not is measured by its effectiveness as a tactic. “He had to run to the right in the primaries and then ‘pivot’ to the center in the general” — that’s something that makes the political wiseguys look smart, but, taken literally, it means that the entire election process in the world’s oldest self-governing republic is a contest to find out who can most smoothly move from one set of lies to another, and it is also a recipe for depriving the people who ultimately will make that decision of the kind of information they need to do so. How this is in any way good for democracy is not for small minds to ponder, I guess.

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Good post this morning BB. I’m watching Morning Joe too, it’s beginning to sound like a Romney Campaign message.

    The only thing that worries me about tonights debate is the format. I’m not sure that Obama can get across the messages he wants and needs to get out there but I am certain Mitt will not play by the rules and that he will lie his ass off, because lying is the only way he can win.

    And I’m with you. Chait’s piece should scare anyone who believes the social compacts are sacrosanct. Their plan is diabolical but it ultimately requires 50 Senate votes. I’ve noticed the polls are tightening again in the Senate races, but I still don’t think the GOP can get to 50.

  4. Beata says:

    I’m nervous. ( JJ, you will love the dwarf and the hair in this video. )

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Like you, I am deeply distressed lately. I am having difficulty understanding how anyone can seriously vote for Romney/Ryan and the GoP no matter how disappointed one is in Obama. It makes no sense.

    How can anyone consider this agenda worthwhile when it will effect just about every person in this nation except for the very, very rich? This man has lied himself into the race, has never shown any capability of telling the truth or standing for something, yet his poll numbers increase basically from one debate performance where the moderator allowed him to run rampant over the facts.

    Something tells me that the race card that has been played is more effective than we originally thought. People are willing to place their lives and future into the hands of the GOP who vow to loosen regulations that effect the air, water, and food supplies, eliminate healthcare access, punish women, abuse seniors, and chop off their own heads for Mitt Romney?

    I depend upon the Sky Dancers to talk me off the ceiling.

    • Beata says:

      You may have come to the wrong place, Pat.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Somehow, I’m determined to work myself back into an optimistic place by 8PM tonight.

    • NW Luna says:

      I don’t think the debates will change many voters’ minds. Americans like to think they will all become rich too, but most of the rank-and-file don’t really like the uber-rich Cayman Island types. Many conservatives have come out against Romney as just too vague and too callous. Odds are that Romney will lose.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I’m with you Luna. I do think Obama needs a good debate tonight, but mainly for his base because it’s easier to make the effort to vote if you’re voting for a guy who looks and sounds as if he wants to win.

        Also, looking at the national polls, I still don’t see the magic number 51, not for Romney, not for Obama, I think the sentiment being expressed here the other day about cellphones or no phone voters, is spot on, According to what I’ve read the polling orgs are not polling cellphone owners who do not also have a landline. Mistake!!!! There are many voters, especially young voters 18-30, who have no landline and there is a growing number of seniors who are abandoning landlines for cellphones.

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    Here’s the current Senate snapshot according to RCP. We currently have 45 Dems and looking at the polls it appears we can reach 54. I don’t believe the GOP can get to 50 in the Senate.


    And for the record, I think the MSM is working diligently to shape the narrative to make this a horse race. I still feel confident that Obama will win, despite the work being done to scare the shit out of us.

    • Beata says:

      God, total nutjob Mourdock is +5 in the latest Rasmussen poll! Indiana voters are insane. The GOP already holds that seat, but Mourdock is 100 times worse than Lugar.

      I’m going to go get my hair cut today. It’ll take my mind off the debate. I’ll probably come back looking like a chicken.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        You’ve got to be kidding! What is wrong with those people?

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s horrible! The good news is it’s Rasmussen.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “That’s horrible! The good news is it’s Rasmussen”

        Or as they’re better known, The (R)Assmussen

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Just remember folks, the MSM has a vested interest in this being a horse race. They will paint this as nose-to-nose, right to the finish line. There is so much money to be made in this election cycle, money that was never on the table before, that the MSM has nothing to lose and everything to gain by overworking the close, closing, overtaking narrative. The money in this race, both in the Presidential and in the Congressional races, is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. This is a major paradigm shift for the potential profits of TV (national and local), Radio, Print Media, Internet and even polling organizations, the incentive is to keep this race alive. I’m certain it is a close race, but I’m not certain that the right-leaning media hyperbole I’ve heard since the debate isn’t contrived for profit.

      • NW Luna says:

        I’ll probably come back looking like a chicken.

        In which case, you must post a pic! It’ll divert us!

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    Obama must feel like this is opening night of “Spider Man”. The disasters that plagued that show are legion.

    The “undecideds” will be waiting desperately for the talking heads and pundits to determine which one did better so they can cast their vote for the “winner”. Unbelievable.

    Who needs a discussion of the issues when a “haircut” could decide the race.

  8. Personally, the thing that concerns we the most is how effective the voter suppression tactics have/will work. There is no way to predict what these actions have done to the electorate. And, as we all know, those affected would overwhelmingly vote Democratic. I think this, more than any other single factor will decide the elections.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      “Personally, the thing that concerns we the most is how effective the voter suppression tactics have/will work”

      Tomorrow morning I’m putting on my Rainbow Flag T-shirt and going to early vote for Obama/Bide in this tight-ass far-right-neo-con-christo state I live in. We have the new photo ID requirement, but my DL photo is over a decade old. I used it in the Primary to cast a vote for obama, with no problem, but I’m not so sure it will pass muster this time since I won’t be voting at the same polling place. If I was a praying woman, I’d be praying that tomorrow they challenge me, because if they do I promise they’ll have hell to pay. My partner will be at the ready with the cell cam.

  9. ANonOMouse says:

    For those of you concerned about the PPP Daily KOS/SEIU poll, read what the pollsters themselves have to say about the poll. It will calm your nerves a bit.

    FWIW, this is the first time in my internet life I’ve ever linked The Daily KOS.


  10. RalphB says:

    I think this is mostly correct in that Obama has been off his game for some time. I noticed it in the 60 Minutes where he got steam rolled by Steve Krofts and didn’t perform well. I hope he is on his A game for this debate.

    Molly Ball: Why We Shouldn’t Be Surprised Obama Is Falling Behind

    Before the first presidential debate, President Obama was riding high in the polls. Now, he finds himself tied or even behind Mitt Romney, both nationally and in key states. But what happened may not be as simple as a good debate for Romney and a bad one for Obama. The president was showing signs of weakness before the two candidates met up in Denver — everyone was just too distracted by a run of terrible news for Romney to take notice.

    Obama had two prominent public outings prior to the Oct. 3 debate in Denver, and both should have been alarming to his supporters: A 60 Minutes interview and a forum hosted by the Spanish-language network Univision. In both extended interviews, the president was off his game in the same ways the debate would soon showcase — unsteady, equivocating, lacking in forcefulness or punch — and made a number of minor gaffes. But Mitt Romney was in the midst of a rather spectacular ongoing implosion at the time, so Obama’s blunders largely went unnoticed.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I sure hope so! What could be happening with him?

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “What could be happening with him?”

        We’ve discussed this within my circle of friends (oldies but goodies) and we all feel as if Obama seems as if he’s carrying a heavy burden. It’s as if he knows something that’s happening or about to happen, that Romney doesn’t yet know. The other alternative we considered is that perhaps he doesn’t want to be re-elected. You can see the beating the job has taken on him just by looking at him. If indeed he’s carrying a not yet public revelation, it must be a major event, because he doesn’t look like he did in 2008, even with the looming financial meltdown and all that it implied. This Obama looks like a man who’s struggling to get through the day.

      • RalphB says:

        I have absolutely no idea but Mouse may be right.

      • Beata says:

        I noticed before the first debate that Michelle looked scared and worried. Something is or was wrong, imo. I have no idea what it might be. A health problem?

      • RalphB says:

        Rick Perry was on pain meds during his primary debates and he was a lot worse than normal. Maybe?

      • bostonboomer says:

        If Obama doesn’t want to be reelected then he’s just going to have to suck it up. He insisted on running for president when he wasn’t really ready. Now he’s all that is standing between us and the apocalypse. This isn’t just about him. Personally, I think he’s competitive enough that it simply isnt true. He wants to win.

      • Fannie says:

        I kinda felt that way about the first debate, that maybe something was going on, and he knew something alot of us didn’t know. Was it a threat on him? Or USA, or Middle East? But something that would have affected his tone. I don’t know.

    • Interesting link Ralph…

  11. RalphB says:

    Alex MacGillis is dead on with this piece.

    TNR: Against Our Debate Obsession

    As you may have heard, the stakes for tonight’s debate are huge. Huge! How big are they? So big that one must resort to a child’s figure of speech: bigger than everything in the whole wide world.
    He’s a goner! Even if he turns in decent performances. Yes, we’ve watched him in office for nearly four years — through his response to the economic crisis and the legislative morass around the Affordable Care Act and the Bin Laden raid and the Arab Spring…but forget all that. It’s all riding on whether he can find that one Clintonesque moment with an unemployed accountant in the town-hall audience, or deliver that one stinging rebuke that encapsulates all that is wrong about Romney Version 7.0 and leaves him “obliterated” on the debate floor.

  12. dakinikat says:

    That Paul Ryan photo op was all over twitter and facebook yesterday. I can tell the politically aware find out things when it shows up on twitter. When it shows up on facebook, that pretty much means EVERY one has things figured out.

    This guy pushing past every one just to get a photo op showing him doing something he didn’t do is just about the perfect metaphor for the Romney/Ryan campaign. I was horrified when I saw it. The first person who shared it was a high school buddy of mine who is a social worker and works with the poor in LA. He’s also a social justice Christian. He was all over it.

  13. ANonOMouse says:

    “This isn’t just about him. Personally, I think he’s competitive enough that it simply isnt true”

    I don’t disagree, it was just one of two alternative theories for why his performances have been so lackluster. I don’t have a crystal ball, but MSNBC does! 🙂 Maybe she knows

  14. ANonOMouse says:

    “Now he’s all that is standing between us and the apocalypse.”

    That’s the shortest and best explanation for why Obama needs to be re-elected that I’ve read anywhere.