links, commentary, toons, pics, fun!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

knock those doors

Just got back from doing some canvassing... like I did last weekend and will be doing again next weekend.  I say that not to pat myself on the back but to hopefully create a little peer pressure on you, dear readers.  As you know, voting isn't enough.  Donating isn't enough.  You gotta get out there!  Perhaps you already are, and if so I salute you.  Personally I don't really enjoy it, but some people do.

Right now Romney appears to have a slight lead nationally, and Obama a slight lead in the battle ground states that will decide the election.  But here's the thing:  those two numbers can only get so far apart.  If national numbers continue to move, the battleground numbers will eventually follow.  Nate Silver's probably has a better read on this than anyone, and fortunately he still gives Obama a nearly 3 out of 4 chance of winning...  but Silver has himself said he expects his numbers to bounce around more in the final days, as his model will rely less and less on 'structural factors' (the economy, etc) and more on the most recent polling, which we can also expect to fluctuate more (polls lines always get squiggly right as election day nears).

The Obama campaign is stressing that they've been preparing for this precise situation for years now, building the biggest GOTV operation ever.  Their key metric is number of field offices, which dwarfs Romney's.  They argue people are more likely to get out and volunteer somewhere close by than to drive a longer distances to help.  But this all depends on people like us actually showing up and doing our part.  So let's do it!

ok, some links, etc....

Funny photo caption.

Finally!  The details of Romney's plan to cut taxes on the rich and reduce the deficit without hurting the middle class.

The Obama campaign posted this:

A reference to this?:

Colin Powell made a number of good points when he endorsed the President the other day... particularly in this bit:

Romney's shape-shifting reveals a lack of integrity.  That's as important as any particular issue.

(A remake of this)

Here are a couple that I really think are worth saving and reading in their entirety:

Jonathan Chait explains what's going to happen with the budget after the election... fascinating and illuminating.  A Romney win is indeed scary, but you might be surprised at how well positioned Obama will be to advance his priorities (if he can just pull this thing out).

If I were to meet a foreigner who wanted to understand American politics, I think this article by Jonathan Cohn would be a great starting point.  

And then if I wanted to help this 'foreigner' understand what's at stake in this particular election, I think Douglas Brinkley's introduction to his interview with Obama in the new Rolling Stone might be a good place to start:

Viewed through the lens of history, Obama represents a new type of 21st-century politician: the Progressive Firewall. Obama, simply put, is the curator-in-chief of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society. When he talks about continued subsidies for Big Bird or contraceptives for Sandra Fluke, he is the inheritor of the Progressive movement's agenda, the last line of defense that prevents America's hard-won social contract from being defunded into oblivion. 
Ever since Theodore Roosevelt used executive orders to save the Grand Canyon from the zinc-copper lobbies and declared that unsanitary factories were grotesque perversions propagated by Big Money interests, the federal government has aimed to improve the daily lives of average Americans. Woodrow Wilson followed up T.R.'s acts by creating the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission and re-establishing a federal income tax. Then, before the stock market crash in 1929, the GOP Big Three of Harding-Coolidge-Hoover made "business" the business of America, once more allowing profiteers to flourish at the expense of the vulnerable. 
Enter Franklin Roosevelt, a polio victim confined to a wheelchair and leg braces. His alphabet soup of New Deal programs – the CCC and TVA and WPA – brought hope to the financially distraught, making them believe that the government was on their side. Determined to end the Great Depression, Roosevelt was a magnificent experimenter. Credit him with Social Security, legislation to protect workers, labor's right to collective bargaining, Wall Street regulation, rural electrification projects, farm-price supports, unemployment compensation and federally guaranteed bank deposits. The America we know and love today sprung directly from the New Deal. 
For the next three decades, the vast majority of voters benefited from Roosevelt's revolution. And every president from FDR to Jimmy Carter, regardless of political affiliation, grabbed America by the scruff of the neck and did huge, imaginative things with tax revenues. Think Truman (the Marshall Plan), Eisenhower (the Interstate Highway System), Kennedy (the space program), Johnson (Medicaid and Medicare), Nixon (the EPA) and Carter (the departments of Energy and Education). Whether it was Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy going after the Mob or LBJ laying the groundwork for PBS, citizens took comfort in the knowledge that the executive branch was a caring iron fist with watchdog instincts that got things done. 
It was the election of Ronald Reagan that started the Grand Reversal. Reagan had voted four times for FDR, but by 1980 he saw the federal government – with the notable exception of our armed forces – as a bloated, black-hatted villain straight out of one of his B movies. His revolution – and make no mistake that it was one – aimed to undo everything from Medicare to Roe v. Wade. Ever since Reagan, both the New Deal and the Great Society have been under continuous siege by the American right. Bill Clinton survived two terms only by co-opting traditional GOP issues like welfare reform and balanced budgets. Unlike Clinton, Obama must hold tighter to the Progressive movement's reins. There are no more moderate Republicans left in Congress to do business with; today's GOP conservatives want to roll back, not reform. Having brought Obamacare this far, the president must find a way to close the deal in his second term. 
If Obama wins re-election, his domestic agenda will be anchored around a guarantee to all Americans that civil rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, affordable health care, public education, clean air and water, and a woman's right to choose will be protected, no matter how poorly the economy performs. Obama has grappled with two of the last puzzle pieces of the Progressive agenda – health care and gay rights – with success. If he is re-elected in November and makes his health care program permanent, it will take root in the history books as a seminal achievement. If he loses, Romney and Ryan will crush his initiatives without remorse. 
The main goal of Obama's second term, besides driving down unemployment, will likely be the conversion to clean energy. While Obama doesn't wear an Inconvenient Truth T-shirt, he nevertheless understands that environmentalism makes for good business in the 21st century. The high seas and savage winds of fossil-fuel abuse are upon us. Obama has made clear that addressing climate change is the issue of most long-term consequence facing not only America but human civilization itself.

Jonathan Cohn (again!) also has a good run-through of the auto-bailout, summarizing its significance this way:
Looking back, the key disagreement between Obama and Romney wasn’t over whether the auto industry should survive. It was over whether the government should act to make the industry's survival possible—whether, facing an instance of market breakdown, the government should intervene in order to protect hundreds of thousands, and maybe more than a million, people from losing their jobs.

And that’s really the same philosophical argument Obama and Romney are having when they debate other areas of policy. When investors take risks that exploit consumers and jeopardize the economy, should government stop investors from taking those risks? When health insurers make profits by discriminating against people with serious medical issues, should government force insurers to treat those people like everybody else? When manufacturers and energy companies fill the air with carbon, creating climate problems that will affect everybody on the planet, should government find ways to curb their activities? Obama thinks the answer to these questions is yes. Romney thinks it is no. 
But the Detroit rescue reveals another difference between the two—one that is more about character than ideology. In 2009, you didn't need a crystal ball to see that Michigan, Ohio, and the rest of the midwest would be important parts of the 2012 election. But rescuing the companies would entail its own risks. The public by that point was tired of bailouts and, according to polls, they didn’t find the autoworkers a whole lot more sympathetic than the bankers. Conditioned by years of anti-union propaganda and stories (or personal experiences) with substandard American cars, the American public had come to see employees of the Big Three as pampered, slothful, and undeserving of help. Even in the Midwest, where the effects of a shutdown would be most acute, the rescue elicited mixed responses. 
Obama understood this. Even if the rescue worked as he hoped it would, chances were good that progress would be slow in coming—that, by today, the companies would still be struggling, creating a political embarrassment. Obama approved the rescue anyway. And that included granting assistance to Chrysler. Half of his economic advisers opposed that, fearing, among other things, the shrinking car market was too small to support both companies. Obama’s rationale was simple: If he had the power to stop the devastation of either company shutting down, he was going to use it. 
Romney’s inconsistent rhetoric may leave us wondering precisely what he really thought and would have done. But they tell us a lot about how he operates in the face of political pressure. When Romney was trying to appease conservatives and win the Republican primaries, he went out of his way to attack the rescue as a waste of taxpayer dollars. When Romney was trying to win over voters in Michigan and, now, as he has been trying to win over voters in Ohio, he has emphasized the similarities between the remedy he proposed initially and the solution Obama eventually chose. Can anybody who’s followed these shifts say honestly Romney has the mettle to make a tough decision and stick with it? 
Put it all together, and it’s possible to draw from the auto industry rescue a pretty good lesson about the real differences between Obama and Romney. Obama understands that the market doesn’t always work on its own—that sometimes government must intervene in order to protect Americans from economic harm. Romney doesn’t. Obama is also willing to act in the face of political peril. Romney isn’t. 
Those differences should matter to all Americans, not just those of us who live in Michigan and Ohio.

BREAKING:  footage of Obama's birth has been discovered!

This interview with the guy who "discovered" it is hilarious.

I guess there was some controversy over this video yesterday?:

I was not familiar with Dunham, but she seems quite charming.  Is Girls good?  I remember hearing something about it a while back... either that it was like Sex in the City, or that it's not like Sex in the City.  Which I suppose describes everything.  Because that's how I view the world.  (not really)

If you're in Sandy's path at all please stay safe.  Sounds like it's gonna be a doozy.

No comments: