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?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Fall is here, and suddenly, I find myself seeking out foods made with pumpkin, like pumpkin-apple muffins. I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte, but I’m thinking of trying one. I found a recipe for pumpkin syrup on line.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
3 tbsp. pumpkin puree

DIRECTIONS

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Toss in the cinnamon sticks and whisk in the remaining spices and the pumpkin puree. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, without letting the mixture come to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and store in your container of choice. Store in the refrigerator. Make sure that your refrigerator is working properly for preserving purposes. If not, you can look for refrigeration repair kingsport tn services online.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, combine 2 ounces of hot coffee or 1 shot of hot espresso (about 1-1½ ounces) with 5-6 ounces of steamed low-fat milk. Stir in 1½-2 tablespoons of the pumpkin spice syrup. Taste and adjust amounts accordingly. Top as desired with freshly whipped cream, ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce (optional – sort of).

I’ve also heard that pumpkin oatmeal is really good. I’m might try that with the leftovers. Now, let’s see what’s in the news this morning.

Yesterday, I posted about Romney’s crass exploitation of the death of former Navy Seal Glen Doherty in the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Last night I learned that Doherty was active in the fight to prevent right-wing fundamentalists from completely taking over the U.S. military. Mikey Weinstein, who has fought the good fight for years, wrote about it at Huffington Post.

I had the extreme good fortune, honor and privilege to work alongside Glen for years as a longtime member of the Advisory Board of the four-time, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, civil rights charitable organization I founded and currently serve as president of called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). We currently are assisting over 30,000 American military personnel fighting against Christian fundamentalist religious extremism in our own armed forces. Glen selflessly served as a passionate, ’round-the-clock’ supporter of MRFF based on his fervent belief in its mission to protect the secular nature of the U.S. Military and the imperative this secular nature has to our national security. Separation of church and state in the United States military was not a trivial matter for Glen. It was his mantra.

Based upon our profound, mutual working experiences with MRFF, I’m truly fascinated about what Mitt Romney actually “learned about him”. During his chance meeting with Glen at that Christmas party a few years ago, did candidate Romney learn about his close personal and professional relationship with MRFF? Other fascinating learning opportunities for Mr. Romney regarding Glen’s deep support of and belief in MRFF and what we stand for may have revealed to him some very “uncomfortable” facts about the life of this true American Hero.

Please click the link and read the list of initiatives that Doherty supported. Of Romney’s shameful use of Doherty’s story for political purposes, Weinstein writes:

As informed citizens of the United States, we are all too aware of the rampant grandiose hyperbole generated as a result of our political campaigns. This absolutely disgusting, opportunistic travesty however was so much more, and so much lower, than the usual political ‘pablum’ that courses through our normal campaign emissions. This “performance” was simply naked and shameful exploitation of the life and memory of an actual American Hero. Romney did not “know” Glen. His insinuation that he somehow had a connection to Glen is disingenuous at best and a naked lie at worst. It is bold and bald untruthfulness. As Alfred Tennyson said, “A lie that is half truth is the darkest of all lies.” A timely and heartfelt apology is truly in order here.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Warren-Brown debate last night, but I read a good review of it at Dailykos by Joan McCarter. Apparently the moderator this time wasn’t an idiot.

What a refreshing Massachusetts Senate debate. From the beginning, when moderator Jim Madigan (thank you WGBY and public television), announced that the questions would be from and based on what the public had sent in, there was hope. When the first question was not about Elizabeth Warren’s heritage, but instead about unemployment and job creation, you knew we were in for a debate of substance.

Without that initial attack on Warren to set Brown up, he came off a little discombobulated. Brown was often scattered, incoherent, and thrown off by the time clock, resorting to mixing all his talking points on “bipartisan” and “job creators” into a mish-mash of word salad when he found himself with extra time. That was regardless of the question asked of him. He also failed in controlling the nasty, taking several cheap shots at “Professor” Warren, including blaming her salary and benefits as a Harvard professor for the spiraling costs of higher education.

This debate featured a far more Republican-sounding Brown that any of the previous debates. He railed about tax hikes, on his fealty to Grover Norquist, on the job-killing Obamacare. It was a bizarre juxtaposition to see the guy the tea party was so excited to get elected in 2010 and the “second-most bipartisan senator” fighting for the same brain. The results were bad for Brown.

Read the rest at the link. I’m still glad I didn’t watch it. Watching Paul Ryan tonight will be bad enough for one week.

In another hard-fought Senate race in Missouri, Claire McCaskill has released three new ads in her battle with Todd Akin. Each ad features a rape survivor talking about Akin’s anti-woman policies. Here’s one of the ads:

You can watch the other two ads at the above link.

There’s another terrific war-on-woman ad released by Deb Butler, a Democrat running for the North Carolina state senate. The ad features a transvaginal probe.

North Carolina state Senate candidate Deb Butler has released a new ad that slams Republican incumbent Thom Goolsby for supporting anti-abortion legislation.

“He wouldn’t dare show you this, but this is Thom Goolsby’s contribution to women’s health,” Butler says in the ad, holding a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand. “A medically unnecessary and invasive procedure that is now required by state law. He promised us his first priority would be jobs, but instead he’s following us into the doctor’s office.”

The New York Times offers Trip Gabriel’s Six Things to Watch for in the Biden-Ryan Debate. Gabriel predicts:

1. Biden will hit Ryan (and Romney) with everything he’s got.

Expect Mr. Biden, who is able to deliver cutting sarcasm without seeming angry, to continue to make up for Mr. Obama’s passivity at the first debate by accusing Mr. Romney of dissembling about long-held policies.

2. Biden will attack the Ryan budget.

Republicans and Democrats both rejoiced when Mr. Romney picked Mr. Ryan because the ticket was married to Mr. Ryan’s audacious House budgets with deep cuts in federal spending.

Although the budget, which Mr. Romney has largely endorsed, does not specify how programs will be cut, Mr. Biden will happily fill in the blanks by saying that an equal, across-the-board cut would mean eliminating 38,000 teachers and dropping 200,000 children from Head Start.

The remaining issues are Medicare cuts, the fiscal cliff, foreign affairs, and possible gaffes, especially by Biden. Of course we’ll have a live blog of the debate tonight.

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear a suit against telcoms who received immunity for spying on American citizens.

The Supreme Court has ended a 6-year-old class-action lawsuit against the nation’s telecommunications carriers for secretly helping the National Security Agency monitor phone calls and emails coming into and out of this country.

The suit was dealt a death blow in 2008 when Congress granted retroactive immunity to people or companies aiding U.S. intelligence agents.

Without comment, the justices turned down appeals from civil liberties advocates who contended this mass surveillance was unconstitutional and illegal.

This month the justices are set to hear a separate case to decide whether NSA officials can be sued for authorizing this allegedly unconstitutional mass wiretapping.

That should be enough to get some discussion started. Now what are you reading and blogging about?