Saturday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’ve been pretty sanguine about the chances of President Obama being reelected, but I have to admit I’m getting to the point that I could start panicking. I can’t understand why Mitt Romney seems to be doing so well in the polls right now. Seriously? Just because he managed to roll over Jim Lehrer and lie his ass off in a debate? I simply cannot understand why anyone would vote for the policies that Romney and Ryan are running on or why there would be such a sudden reversal in the polls based on outright lies and deception. What exactly is going on here?

Nate Silver, who throughout the campaign has been forecasting an Obama victory, is beginning to reverse course. Yesterday afternoon Silver wrote: Obama’s Swing State ‘Firewall’ Has Brittle Foundation.

President Obama’s position has been stronger in state polls than in national surveys on recent days, a streak that extended itself in Thursday’s polling.

Although Mr. Obama got a distinctly poor poll in Florida, which showed him seven points behind there, the rest of Thursday’s state-level data, like a series of polls by Quinnipiac University and Marist College, were reasonably good for him. In surveys of competitive states that were released over the course of the day, he held the lead with 11 polls to Mitt Romney’s 6.

However, four of the six national tracking polls moved toward Mr. Romney, who also led by one point in a national poll published by Monmouth University.

The case that Mr. Romney’s bounce is evaporating after his debate last week in Denver continues to look a bit thin. The tracking polls aren’t perfect by any means. Some are better than others, but they are a below-average group of polls on the whole. But they do provide useful information about the day-to-day trend in the race, and so far they haven’t shown the sort of reversal that Democrats might have hoped for.

What the hell is going on here? Then last night Silver published another piece: Romney Debate Gains Show Staying Power

Mitt Romney continues to surge in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, and Friday may have featured his best set of polls all year.

The best way to track a change in the polls is to look for instances in which the same firm has surveyed the same state (or the national race) multiple times. The FiveThirtyEight forecast model relies on a procedure very much like this to calculate the overall trend in the race.

Fifteen polls were released on Friday that provided a comparison with another survey conducted between the Democratic convention and last week’s debate in Denver. Mr. Romney gained an average of 4.6 percentage points in these surveys.

The scariest thing is that Romney is gaining in the swing states. Silver admits that many of the polls released on Friday were from Republican leaning firms, but still, it’s frightening.

The only really good news for Democrats is that Mr. Obama had built up a large enough cushion that he could withstand a lot of damage without becoming the underdog. The forecast model still has him clinging to narrow leads in Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nevada, states that in some combination would give him 270 electoral votes.

Mr. Obama may also be just slightly underperforming the fundamentals in the election. His approval ratings remain near 50 percent, which would ordinarily predict a narrow re-election victory.

But for the first time, it’s really looking like Romney/Ryan could win. For those of us who believe that there will be a gigantic difference in outcomes–especially for women–if Romney becomes president, that is a terrifying prospect. Some liberals have argued that there is little difference between these two candidates. I simply can’t agree. I think the only hope for democracy is to get Obama reelected and then push him to enact policies that will reduce economic inequality and increase individual rights.

Can Obama turn this around? I have to believe he can, but it will obviously take a dramatic improvement in his performance in next Tuesday’s debate. Both candidates are prepping for the debate over the next three days.

In other news, Think Progress pushes back on Paul Ryan’s lies about the Libya situation during the vice presidential debate Thursday night. Ryan claimed that embassy officials had requested increased security for the Benghazi consulate, but that was not true. The requests were for security at the embassy in Tripoli.

Ryan also claimed there were requests for Marines to protect the ambassador, but that is not true either. TP quotes Foreign Policy:

At Thursday night’s debate, Rep. Paul Ryan seemed to suggest that the requests were for Marines to go to Libya, which was not the case. The requests were to extend the tours of a Mobile Security Detachments [MSD] and the Site Security Team [SST] at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which are teams of military personnel, not Marines, who can help protect an embassy and its personnel.

There’s more at the link, but pretty much everything Ryan said about Libya during the debate was a lie. So why was it wrong for Biden to laugh at him again?

At HuffPo, Sam Stein writes that Ryan actually requested more stimulus funds from the Obama administration that has previously been known.

During Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden attacked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for criticizing the president’s stimulus act despite having sent two separate requests for stimulus funds for his district.

Biden was wrong. Ryan sent at least four requests.

A Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between Ryan’s office and the Environmental Protection Agency, filed by The Huffington Post, unearthed two additional instances in which the Wisconsin Republican petitioned for American Recovery Act funds. In addition, there were many other occasions in which the GOP vice presidential nominee asked the EPA for grant money for projects in Wisconsin’s 1st District, which encompasses Ryan’s hometown of Janesville and has a slight Democratic lean. Combined, the letters muddy Ryan’s claim that the stimulus wasn’t helpful and that government spending, more broadly, doesn’t assist small businesses.

Stein notes that the EPA request could be embarrassing for Republicans:

…the letters’ language reveals a congressman who was involved in reviewing the applications and determining that taxpayer money could be useful economically. Moreover, the direct petitioning of the EPA could prove awkward for the Republican ticket, owing to the insistence among many in the GOP that the agency is a hindrance and should be eliminated.

You can see the original letters at the link.

Horrible, ugly troll and Romney surrogate John Sununu has struck again: Sununu Says Obama Imitating Biden Would Fail. From the Bloomberg TV unofficial transcript:

AL HUNT: Welcome back. We are now joined by former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, a top Romney surrogate. John, let me ask you. Last night, the Democrats were ecstatic. They say Joe Biden energized us again. Give me your take on the VP debate.

JOHN SUNUNU: If they’re energized by that grotesque display, all the better for it. I thought Joe Biden was on steroids last night. He looked like the Cheshire cat at times and then he looked like the gawker and the stalker. But worse than that was his substance.

“Grotesque display?” Well, I guess it takes one to know one.

HUNT: John, second presidential debate next Tuesday in Hofstra. Do you expect a different Barack Obama, a different Mitt Romney?

SUNUNU: I expect the same Mitt Romney. Mitt is pretty consistent. But I think you’ll probably see a different Barack Obama. They’re probably showing him tapes of Biden’s disgraceful performance and suggesting to him he ought to get wired like that. So I suspect you’ll see a little bit of Joe Biden not only in Joe Biden, as we saw last night, but a little Joe Biden in Barack Obama.

Well that was insightful.

Sorry I don’t have more positive news. I guess we have to hang on until Tuesday night while the media continues to fawn over Romney and Ryan.

What are you reading and blogging about today?


Mitt Romney: “It is without question the largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in American history” Really?

Mitt Romney mocks the people of New Hampshire for preserving historic landmarks

The title of this post is a quote from Mitt Romney’s speech this afternoon in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Politico reports:

Mitt Romney used a 19th-century stone bridge here today to anchor his attacks against President Barack Obama, calling the 2009 economic stimulus the “largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in America’s history.”

“This is the absolute bridge to nowhere if there ever was one,” Romney told supporters as he motioned to the stone bridge behind him. “That’s your stimulus dollars at work — a bridge that goes nowhere. And so I hope that the president comes here, and takes a look at some of the stimulus program, there’s a long list by the way.”

Wow, the government must have really spent a lot of money for Romney to be this bent out of shape. Let’s see, how much stimulus money went into the bridge?

More than $150,000 from the federal stimulus bill was awarded to restore this one — which doesn’t cross a body of water and hasn’t had vehicle traffic in more than a century. Local officials say they want to turn the stone arch and its surrounding areas into a public park.

“It is without question the largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in American history, and the bad news is it was not just wasteful spending,” Romney continued. “It is wasteful borrowing as well because we still are going to be paying on that debt for years and years and years.”

Wait a minute! That has to be a misprint, right? Why just today Mitt and Ann Romney donated $150,000 to his presidential campaign. He must have meant $150 million went to the bridge. But no, the entire cost of the restoration was about $288,000, with the state providing the start-up funds.

What is Romney getting at here? Does he want to stop preserving historical sites and monuments? Is it really wrong for small towns like Hillsboro that are dependent mostly on tourism to want to preserve their historic sites and at the same time build lovely parks to attract visitors who might also spend their money in town? At the same time, the project provided much-needed jobs for New Hampshirites struggling to survive in a difficult economy.

The bridge that Romney complained about is named Sawyer Bridge, and it is one of the few remaining stone arch bridges in New England. The town of Hillsborough is home to four of them. From Huffington Post:

Romney’s attack on the $288,000 bridge restoration will run into several immediate challenges: Funding for the project was overwhelmingly supported by state Republicans, including a significant number who have now endorsed Romney for president. The infrastructure project created much-needed jobs during tough economic times. And it left behind a public park enjoyed by Granite State residents who take great pride in their early-American and colonial history — and who will be casting critical, swing-state votes in November. It’s a curious breed of conservatism that would find offense in the job-creating conservation of a stone arch bridge that is one of the earliest examples of dry-laid masonry vaults in New England.

I have to wonder, is Romney opposed to any federal support to preserve historic sites? What about the National Parks? Would Romney sell off that land if he were president? Would he open them to oil drilling and other kinds of industrial development?

Think about it. For Romney expenditure of $150,000 in federal stimulus funds represents “the largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in American history.” Really? I can think of some worse, more careless expenditures of government money. What about the Vietnam War? What about the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Bush financed with borrowed money that was kept off-budget?

Just to get a sense of the financial cost of those wars, I located this paper by Stephen Daggett of the Congressional Research Service (PDF) that lists the costs of America’s wars in $2011 dollars. According to Daggett in 2011,

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated more than a trillion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere around the world. The House
and Senate are now considering an additional request for $33 billion in supplemental funding for
the remainder of FY2010, and the Administration has also requested $159 billion to cover costs of
overseas operations in FY2011.

That’s more than the cost war in Vietnam, which in 2011 dollars was $738 billion. At that time the war in Iraq had cost $784 billion and the war in Afghanistan had cost $321 billion. And Romney is whining about New Hampshire getting $150 THOUSAND to restore a historic bridge while creating jobs and increasing income from tourism?

There is something seriously wrong with the way this man’s mind works.


Romney Career Advice Open Thread

Gov. John Kasich and Mitt Romney at Otterbein U.

Yesterday, presumed Republican Presidential standard bearer Mitt Romney managed a stunning quadruple-gaffe. In one “lecture” at Ohio’s Otterbein University he demonstrated his ignorance about ordinary American families, his disdain for working people, and his cluelessness about the American economy. On top of that, he managed to put his audience to sleep! Watch the video and note the dozing students behind Romney:

Yes, Jimmy John’s! Romney’s pal Jimmy John Liautaud started a sandwich store franchise in 1983 with a $25,000 loan from his dad. Romney advised Otterbein students to do the same:

Accusing the president of attacking successful Americans, Romney urged students to borrow money from their parents — as John did — if they need to do so to succeed in starting their own businesses.

“Even now, I believe you’re watching a president who is trying to deflect and divert from his record by trying to find ways to, if you will, attack fellow Americans, between rich and poor, and other dimensions,” said Romney. “This kind of divisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history.”

“We’ve always encouraged young people, take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business,” he said.

Of course! Because everyone has parents with an extra $25,000 lying around. Why didn’t I think of that? It’s a simple answer to the economic crisis–stop attacking rich people and borrow money from your rich parents instead.

And be like Jimmy John’s–a company cited for illegal labor practices! Great idea!

Judge Rules Jimmy John’s Must Re-Hire Workers Fired for Sick Leave Complaints

A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has ruled six former Minneapolis Jimmy John’s sandwich shop employees must be re-hired and paid back wages.

The workers in question said if they called in sick and couldn’t find replacements for their shifts they risked being fired. So, they started warning Jimmy John’s customers that they could be eating sandwiches made by under-the-weather sandwich makers….

Davis Ritsema, one of the fired workers, explained how sick leave policy challenge began. “One day I was coughing and had a high temperature, but I felt pressured to work.”

Mike Wilkow, another former Jimmy John’s worker, added, “I was vomiting and handling sandwiches. They made me stay until the end of my shift.”

Yes, take Mitt Romney’s advice: borrow money from your wealthy parents, hire minimum-wage workers and deny them sick leave. That’ll help the economy recover!

Romney also attacked Obama’s economic stimulus, apparently unaware that Otterbein University received more than $80,000 in stimulus funds used for a federal work-study program.

ROMNEY: Then there was the stimulus itself. $787 billion of borrowing. It could have been entirely focused on getting getting the private sector to buy capital equipment, for instance. That puts people to work. Or to hire people. Instead, it primary [sic] protected people in the governmental sector, which is probably the sector that should have been shrinking.

Of course, as Dr. Dakinikat has repeatedly explained, businesses aren’t going to invest capital in equipment to produce products when Americans have so little money to spend. Furthermore, Ohio college are now suffering the loss of stimulus funds, because Governor Kasich, who accompanied Romney at Otterbein, hasn’t done anything to replace them.

What’s on your mind this lovely Saturday morning?