Category Archives: Grousy Cat Sez

Farewell to our beloved Hallgerðr Longlegs

Image

Hallgerðr Longlegs. 1992-2013

Image

Editor-in-chief Grousy Cat

We are grieved to relay the news that longtime Political Rant editor and provocateur Hallgerðr–sometimes known as “Grousy Cat”–passed peacefully Tuesday afternoon attended by her family of human servants, including her companion of 21 years, following a two-month battle with Squamous Cell Carcinoma. She was 21 years old.

Born in Tucson, Arizona in April, 1992, Hallgerðr Longlegs was named not only for the Icelandic heroine of “The Saga of Burnt Njal” but also for her questing spirit and propensity for skillfully climbing in and out of boxes, cabinets, closets, baskets, etc.
Image

Sarastro & Nirvana awaiting Hallgerðr’s wisdom, dispensed from on high.

A shy cat, by nature, she preferred to allow others–like her sister, Auðr the Deep-Minded, who predeceased her in the late 90s– to shine in the spotlight. Hallgerðr was, nonetheless, a quick-witted and astute feline who did not suffer fools gladly. Fast on the paw when hunting insects, and yet always ready to radiate sleep rays upon unsuspecting humans, she was a creature of contradictions. To her friends, she could be tolerant and warm—a plushy ball of purr on cold San Francisco nights, tempered with the noblesse oblige of her exalted rank—while her adversaries feared the disciplining swat on the nose which she did not hesitate to dispense when provoked.

Image

Hallgerðr & the Magic Shirt celebrate the Obama win in 2012

In politics, though she declined to state an outright affiliation with any party, Hallgerðr’s leanings tended to the Liberal side. Still, she found much to discredit with a sharp barking meow on either end of the political spectrum, and her brief, yet cutting remarks were often a refreshing commentary during campaign speeches and debates in election season. Feisty to the end, she did not hesitate to make known her mind, or to offer her human servants corrective notes when necessary, even if that occurred at 5 a.m.

Throughout her long life, Hallgerðr brought great comfort and also the vaunted “black cat’s gift” of good luck to her chosen humans.

 Hallgerðr is survived by her housemate, and sometimes foe, Nirvana, and her two adoring monkey-servants.

Hallgerðr enjoyed mind games.

Hallgerðr enjoyed mind games.


Election Night Live-Blog Edition

Good evening and welcome to the Political Rant Live-Blog of Election Night 2012!

I’ve never done this before, can you tell?  But here’s the plan:  As the mood strikes me, minute by minute, I’ll be adding to this single post, so go ahead and bookmark it for tonight.  If you’re not seeing my updates, please hit refresh on your browser (usually a little circular arrow icon) in order to see the latest.  Newest comments will be added at the top of the post with the time.

11:02 pm PST: It’s done.  Obama is the President for four more years. We can go to sleep feeling so much more secure and relieved without even worrying what will happen in Florida, Virginia or Nevada.  Thanks everyone for tuning in and thanks for all your kind words this election season.  Yes, we did.

10:40 pm PST: Obama: “Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in a very long line –By the way we have to fix that.” No kidding. Let’s not do THAT again. I think maybe some people in Florida are still in line…

10:38 pm PST: Andrew Sullivan at Daily Beast says, “This election, to my mind, is immensely more important than the breakthrough of 2008, after the catastrophe of Bush-Cheney. What it has done is rip open the complete epistemic closure on the Republican right about what America now is. It has revealed that Fox News, Drudge, and the rest have been engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to create an alternative reality and get the rest of us to go along.”

10:36 pm PST: Obama and his family take the stage to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

10:14 pm PST: Waiting for Obama’s speech. In the mean time:

9:57 pm PST:Romney, “Our leaders have to reach across the aisle…” I think he needs to reiterate that to the Republicans in the House.

9:55 pm PST: Romney is onstage.

9:49 pm PST: CNN calls Virginia for Obama. With Nevada in Obama’s column, he has 303 electoral votes, rendering Romney’s Ohio challenge moot.

9:37 pm PST: Tammy Duckworth wins over Joe Walsh!!  And we pick up a couple of Florida seats.

9:31 pm PST: Here are the results I have for right now:

9:25 pm PST:So Romney only wrote an acceptance speech, not a concession speech. And that about sums up the arrogance of this creep.

9:19 pm PST: And Washington also voted to legalize marijuana and Maryland voted to legalize gay marriage!  It’s a good night!!

9:10 pm PST: Colorado goes to OBAMA!!!  yes!!  (Oh and Karl Rove, you’re an idiot.)

9:06 pm PST: And the ballot initiative to legalize gay marriage in Maine passed!!

9:01 pm PST: Is it possible this is true? Colorado legalized marijuana? Also via HuffPo: “Fox News had what can only be described as an insane argument with itself over whether or not President Obama had won Ohio, and the presidency.The network seemed quite confident in its projections at first, but suddenly, pundit Karl Rove — who, as leader of a huge conservative Super PAC has something of an interest in the outcome of the race — began to pour cold water on the call.”

8:52 pm PST: President leading in Virginia, Florida and yet Romney will not concede Ohio. In fact Rove is trying to get Fox news to rescind the Ohio call.  Unbelievable.

Grousy Cat and the Magic Shirt celebrate

8:29 pm PST: Is it unseemly if I whip my Magic Shirt off and wave it wildly in the air???

8:21 pm PST: And it’s called by CNN, MSNBC, NPR and FOX. OBAMA WINS!!!!!!

8:17 pm PST: CNN is far behind MSNBC in making the call, but Fox News apparently projects Ohio for Obama and when you do that, it’s all over.

8:14 pm PST: Oh Great Magic Shirt… Thank you for mitigating the ulcer in my stomach with a win in Ohio!  I now no longer care about Virginia or Florida or anything else!!!

8:12 pm PST: Oregon also goes to Obama.  AND OBAMA TAKES OHIO!!!  with remarkably little fanfare!

8:10 pm PST: Iowa called for Obama!  That brings our man to 250!!

8:02 pm PST: With the polls closing in the West, magically, instantaneously those states can be called — for Obama of course. Here’s how things look right now:

7:56 pm PST: Tim Kaine beats George “Macaca Blast from the Past” Allen in Virginia!

7:48 pm PST: How did I miss that Tammy Baldwin won in Wisconsin?? First openly gay woman to serve in the US Senate.  Missouri goes to Romney.

7:44 pm PST: Lots of blather before the polls close in the west… Come on, California.  Minnesota, BTW goes to Obama according to MSNBC.  Romney campaign still quiet…

7:37 pm PST:“Romney campaign has gone radio silent…”  according to Howard Fineman on MSNBC.

7:34 pm PST: Romney projected to take Arizona. Again, not a surprise…

7:24 pm PST: Okay, so MSNBC just said exactly what I did at 6:55 pm.  There’s lots of ways for Obama to take this thing, but very few scenarios in which Romney can do it without getting all the swing states… Looks like things won’t change with the House of Representatives. Republicans will hold there.

7:17 pm PST: As expected, the Demos lost the Ben Nelson seat in Nebraska.  But with two pickups in Republican seats –Love you, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Donnelly!– I’m not too upset.

7:09 pm PST: Here’s how the Senate is shaping up.  Chris Murphy in CT. in his victory speech says it’s not by the measure of your wallet…

7:07 pm PST: Claire McCaskill takes down Mr. Legitimate Rape Todd Akin in Missouri!!!

7:02 pm PST: So MSNBC is a little more loosey-goosey about calling states than CNN, but I don’t disagree with any of their projections.

7:00 pm PST: I have a knot in my stomach, but I swear it’s because of that stupid PANIC music they play whenever they’re reporting results.

6:55 pm PST: Let’s just talk about this for a second, folks. With all the states going the directions we thought they would, Obama would have 253 votes to Romney’s 189. To get over 270, Obama needs only to carry Ohio. Romney needs to carry just about everything else plus Ohio.  Hoe likely is this scenario?  Not very….

6:50 pm PST: okay, it’s falling into place folks.  keep it coming…. here’s the update:

6;42 pm PST: YES!! Elizabeth Warren takes the Massachusetts Senate seat and Richard (Rape Master) Mourdock went down in flames to Joe Donnelly in Indiana!

6:31 pm PST:Wolf Blitzer is going to pitch a fit over Florida, where they say Romney is only ahead by 636 votes…

6:25 pm  PST: Thanks Jon for posting this — I’m putting it up here so folks don’t miss it in the comments!

6:14 pm PST: Anyone else wishing that CNN would just quit reporting on Ohio and Florida until there’s SOMETHING to report?

5:56 pm PST: My Dad says everyone should watch Obama’s final campaign speech in Des Moines, Iowa. I am instructed to post it here…:)

5:52 pm PST: I hope you all have dinner ready…

5:43 pm PST: Takes soooo long to count votes… Sigh… Alabama called for Romney. I’ve got a different tally number for the candidates than CNN. Not a big surprise there either. Hah!  And my tally worksheet so far looks like this:

5:30 pm PST: They’re calling Arkansas for Romney — If I could roll my eyes I would…

5:04 pm PST: Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missisippi is being called by MSNBC for Romney, Mean while, we have Connecticut , Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware , DC, Illinois (CNN) for Obama–again no surprises.

In case you’d like to play along at home, below is my worksheet for following the Senate races, with handicapping based on the most recent polls. Candidates in bold are incumbents, those in blue are likely Dem, those in tan are likely GOP. The ones in yellow are the key races to watch, and I’ve highlighted the person I think will carry the day. If I’m right, the Dems may lose two seats (Nebraska and Mrs farmer of the Year North Dakota, but I’m hopeful that they’ll pick up Massachusetts, Arizona and maybe Indiana where crazy rape guy Richard Mourdock has been fading in polls.

4:48 pm PST: South Carolina has been called for Romney. nobody panic though, this is still very early and so far there are no real surprises…

4:36 pm PST: Okay, the music MSNBC is using when they announce a call is probably going to drive me batty before this night is over.

4:30 pm PST: Polls have closed in North Carolina, which is still too close, but they have called West Virginia for Romney.

4:07 pm PST: And we’re off!  Polls have closed in the East Coast and  pundits are calling Vermont for Obama, with Indiana and Kentucky called for Romney, no surprises there.  Virginia is still too close to call.  In case you’re looking for a refresher on the key battlegrounds, they are (in order of the poll closures) Virginia (4 pm PST), North Carolina and Ohio (4:30 pm PST), Florida and New Hampshire (5 pm PST), Colorado (6 pm PST), Iowa and Nevada (7 pm PST). California and the western states won’t close til 8 pm PST, and they’re unlikely to call anyone a winner before well after that, perhaps around 9 pm.

1:39 pm PST: First polls will close at 7 pm EST.  CNN.com will begin posting their results here. NYTimes here. MSNBC results here.

1:00 pm PST: Wanna know when CNN will start calling it?  Probably too early! LOL

12:30 pm PST: An early voting watch list from the NY Times as a helpful guide.


Horses & Bayonets Edition

Well, SOMEBODY’s been practicing his zingers…

Last debate before the election (chews nails nervously) and I don’t care what the spinroom says, that was a clear win for Obama. I also don’t care how badly my shirt smells, I’ll be preserving its magic right through the World Series and through Election Day.

Debate transcript (will make for some fascinating reading) and video here.

Foreign policy was the topic of this debate, although really foreign policy meaning mainly Middle East politics with a faint nod to China. The rest of the world apparently has no impact on your presidential aspirations.  Congrats to Bob Schieffer for spanking Romney at least once, although frankly I think he could have been a little sterner about Romney’s penchant for flouting time limits and being a blowhard. Schieffer was competent, although he was no Martha Raddatz, which is a shame, because someone needed to call out Romney on his inability to answer a question on foreign policy directly.

But happily, Obama was on fire tonight, getting the best zingers of the night and calling out the Romney lies.

Some of my favourite Obama lines of the night (lines I’m sure he practiced ahead of time):

You were asked, what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaida, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years. But, Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.


But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities.

Bob, let me just respond. Nothing Governor Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that’s been told during the course of this campaign, and every fact-checker and every reporter’s looked at it. The governor has said this is not true.

Now, I hasten to add, that while those were lines I loved, the truth that every Obama supporter has to come to terms with is that NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS, there are people who will never accept that Romney has lied about Obama. Case in point, the apology tour.  This is a fiction promulgated by the GOP political machine since Obama left for Cairo.  There was nothing apologetic about it, but I have ex-friends (whom I had to unfriend on Facebook) who railed about how they knew Obama had gone on an apology tour and that it was a disgrace. No amount of logic or facts is ever going to dislodge her sad opinion.  Some people do not want to be confused by facts.  Romney’s poor performance will make as little difference to them as Obama’s poor performances in the first debate did for me. I understand that.  I can only hope there are slightly more sane people out there than insane people.

I also must mention the blinking.  With the candidates on split screen, I noticed Romneys blinking FAR more than I have at the previous debates.  Here’s what About.com says about that particular piece of body language, “People often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable.”

Curiously, besides the blinking, one of the takeaways of the night was that Romney apparently agrees with most everything Obama has done, revealing either an amazing lack of imagination, or an underlying truth that all along Obama has been doing what a commander-in-chief should be doing.

Of course not every pundit felt it was a clear Obama win. But at the Political Wire, Taegan Goddard says:

The third and final presidential debate was President Obama’s best moment in the campaign so far. He was prepared on every issue and knew Mitt Romney’s record of past statements just as well… As the debate went on, Romney tried many times to move the international affairs discussion back to the economy where he was more comfortable. It was as if he had only 30 minutes of foreign policy talking points for a 90 minute debate. As a result he seemed to string together random thoughts which often made him sound incoherent.

TalkingPointsMemo concludes: “Romney began to falter as Obama became more direct, organized and declarative. Romney seemed increasingly lost. Obama seemed comfortable, happy. The visuals told the story.”

It was a good night.

==========================

Paul Ryan Repairs the World

And while Romney is out debating the future of the world, his pal Paul Ryan has been out doing good deeds, like cleaning Mount Rushmore:

Cleaning Mother Teresa:

and cleaning Brad Pitt’s abs:

Ah, the things one can do with Photoshop…

And sometimes I don’t need to Photoshop anything at all:

===========================

I have a theory.

By Ann Elk.

Stay with me here. I know this is going to sound like I’m a nut job, but, here goes. Clearly from these last two debates, we can see that Debate #2 and Debate #3 Obama is so much more practiced, so much smarter and quicker than Debate #1 Obama. And I’m not the first one to wonder what the heck happened in that first debate.

Here’s my crazy theory. What if Obama lost that first debate with strategy in mind?

Pshaw, I hear you say, what a thought! Why would he do that? Well, folks, this election is a different animal mainly due to the sudden rise of SuperPACS, quasi-political organizations that we all knew were stockpiling cash to make a hit on Democrats running for Senate, particularly in the final weeks leading up to the election. In early October, Obama had only a small lead in polls in popular vote, but the likelihood was that he would carry most of the swing states in the electoral college race.

I think he also knew that if it looked like Romney was going down in flames (which he was after the 47% remark) the conservative SuperPACS would pull their money from the Romney campaign and abandon Mitt to focus on the Senate and House races.  With Obama on a slide, GOP superPACS have earmarked more cash for pro-Romney ad buys in swing states and moved away from the Senate races. Savvy?

Think of it like that final act of Lord of the Rings. Aragorn proposes a crazy house call on Sauron’s front gate to draw the Eye away from the hobbits scrambling up Mount Doom.  Yeah, yeah, go ahead and tell me I’m crazy, because who would throw away an only slightly-greater-than-nothing lead?

It would be an incredible game of brinksmanship, I concede, but come on, this man is President of the United States. You have to have some nerves of steel to get the job.

Anyway, my point is, yes, he took a dip in the polls–perhaps more than might have even been anticipated. But still, Romney has never been able to create volatility in the polling, not like back in 2004.

==============================

VOTE NOW

Have I mentioned early voting?  Very much worthwhile.  It means that once you’ve voted you can ignore the myriad political ads and paraphernalia invading your inbox…

In-person early voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho,  Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana,  California, Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, Hawaii,

You can vote by absentee ballot already most states. Check Reed’s calendar for more info.

==============================

GROUSY CAT SEZ:

That was a good night.


Pwned Edition

Well, Hallelujah!

Welcome to Presidential Debate Number Two and a fine, fine Obama win. Debate video and transcript here.

Hopefully this little dog and pony show puts the Obama campaign back on track and makes people stop and think, really think for a moment about who this Romney jerk is.

So here’s what we learned today. Mitt Romney is a kneejerk bully who can’t let anyone else have the last word and believes that rules, even debate rules, are for someone else.

But this time, Obama doesn’t just roll over and let Mitt the Arrogant run roughshod over him. ‘Bout damn time. I have a brief flash to that story of Romney’s “Lord of the Flies” style attack on his presumed gay classmate, you know, where he held down and cut the hair of another kid just because he was “different.”  This is the same Mitt Romney we’re looking at today, folks. This is how that kid grew up, from an insolent, overprivileged cocky little brat who thought he could do whatever he wanted, to a pompous swaggering braggart who thinks he can say whatever he wants.

Pssst…Mr. President….there’s a crazy person behind you…

But I’m glad to say that Obama is not a little kid, and he’s not taking it lying down, thank god. At times, it looks like an episode of the Bickersons, with the two of them doing a “No, you don’t,” “Yes, I do,” “No, you don’t” “Yes, I do” kinda useless exchange. And to her credit moderator Candy Crowley tolerates it only for a moment before shutting it down. She has obviously taken heed of the ghost of Jim Lehrer, and I give her credit for cutting through the brawling going on on the stage. In fact, Candy more than earned her stripes when Romney tried to shove down everyone’s craw a particularly silly little bit about Obama’s response to the Libya attacks.

“You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror?” Romney eye-rolled, adding obnoxiously, “I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

“Get the transcript,” Mr. Obama replied. With such firm, unsmiling authority, that it sent a million bloggers to Google to find the transcript, which took all of .0000002 seconds.

Candy actually live fact-checked–LIKE ANYONE WITH A BRAIN WOULD– and said, “He did in fact, sir.”

To which the president added, “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”

Yeah, here, Candy, let me do it.  HE SAID: “NO ACTS OF TERROR WILL EVER SHAKE THE RESOLVE OF THIS GREAT NATION, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

It was a stupid move by Romney because winning a semantic point like that really doesn’t prove anything, but losing the point makes him look like a bully and a condescending jerk who doesn’t know enough to stop lying when he’s been exposed. Didn’t someone say “I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it….” Oh YEAH, that was YOU Governor Romney, back in Debate Number 1, at time 21:16:44.

one does not simply fill binders with women

I think Obama’s feistiness and the fact that Crowley was indeed going to call him on BS must have rattled Romney, because his voice actually took on a different tone and he had a few weird little worms come out of his mouth. Something garbled about how on Day One as president he would “label China a currency manipulator.” But one of the fastest growing memes in the seconds after it emerged from his mouth was “binders full of women.” Uh, yuck.

Mitt was trying to show off how wonderfully openminded he is and how he did his darndest to locate some kind of qualified dames to hire  for his cabinet.

Actually, as it turns out, this idea that he ASKED for the binder full of women is another Romney lie/exaggeration. From David Bernstein at Talking Politics:

Hey, I know about that binder! And guess what — Mitt Romney was lying about it… What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

Here’s what Emma Keller at the UK Guardian had to say about it, “Why did the phrase resonate? Because it was tone deaf, condescending and out of touch with the actual economic issues that women are so bothered about. The phrase objectified and dehumanized women. It played right into the perception that so many women have feared about a Romney administration – that a president Romney would be sexist and set women back.”

Romney is, according to him the kind of open-minded guy that lets his Chief of Staff leave at 5 pm so she can go home and make dinner for the kids. I can only presume that Romney is talking about Karl Rove protege Beth Myers, who manages his campaign and owns a share of that famous Romney horse, Rafalca. Of COURSE, Romney will let her leave at 5  make dinner, because we wouldn’t DREAM of asking Beth’s husband to do that. [Rolls eyes.]

If Romney was hoping to make an impact on women with his caring compassion for the struggles of a working mom, he needed to dial up his “I am a human” setting a few more notches and maybe turn on a space heater to warm him up. Ugh.

Anyway, as I was saying… Romney got pwned by Obama tonight. I figure if the conservatives are saying it was an Obama win, it was clearly a knockout… LOL.

The NY Times noted:

“George Will said, ‘Barack Obama not only gained ground that he had lost, he cauterized some wounds that he inflicted on himself by seeming too distant and disengaged.’

On CNN, the longtime analyst David Gergen said “the night goes to Barack Obama.” On MSNBC, the Rev. Al Sharpton credited Mr. Obama with his “best performance of his career as a debater.”

“Tonight Mitt Romney was up against a different man,” said the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who added that “Democrats will be thrilled.”

I will now breathe a little more easily, take off my lucky Giants T- Shirt (It is SOOOO working) and ignore the polls until the post debate swing happens.

==========================

“Look at how sparkly someone else already made them…”

Nice Christian Attitude Department

And, no, I just can’t pass over that Paul Ryan photo op in the homeless shelter in which he showed up in a 15-minute stop ON HIS WAY TO THE AIRPORT, after the breakfast was over, (conveniently missing any actual contact with homeless people, who are, as we all know in the 30% of Americans who are “takers), “ramrodded” his way into the kitchen (yep, that’s what the charity’s president said) and proceeded to clean pots and pans that were already clean (lest he soil his pretty hands with kitchen schmutz.)  All to get the picture you see on the left.That is one cynical photo op.

I mean really, it’s just so difficult being Romney-Ryan.  They deride the takers, the 47% who just won’t take responsibility for their lives,saying we should cut out entitlements and get rid of handouts.  But, they also want us to think they’re good Christians, so they should at least look like they’re serving, but they should not actually hand any free food to those freeloading “takers.” But they don’t want to be viewed as cold  and unfeeling, but they also only have fifteen minutes to make this op look good, so “Liza, do NOT get grease on your hands, we don’t have time to clean it off, we have a plane to catch!”

Marie Lee of Salon says this: “This staged emptiness is such a glaring metaphor for the oxymoronic “compassionate conservatism” that a novelist would reject it as too obvious…This is exactly what the GOP is all about. They need to pretend to care about the poor and disenfranchised so they don’t come off as total monsters, but in practice, they’d be horrified to confront a food scrap that may have been touched by a 47 percenter.”

=========================

The news that George McGovern is entering hospice gave me a sobering moment today.  I couldn’t help but think, is this the end of an era for Liberals, or can we make this the passing of a torch.  Well, okay, I know Barack Obama isn’t the Liberal I wanted, but he’s liberal enough for right now.  I wasn’t there in 1972, but I have to imagine that this election is a lot different from Nixon vs. McGovern.

==========================

I’m trying not to get too depressed by polling.  Really, truly, with everyone and his aunt out there polling “likely voters”  the noise is unbearable and those poll lines are guaranteed to fluctuate a lot in the next three weeks. When I want to feel good about life, I look at Electoral-Vote.com’s Senate map.

In more heartening news, Obama is leading Romney 59-31% among early voters, according to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll.

The online poll is another sign that early voting is likely to play a bigger role this year than in 2008, when roughly one in three voters cast a ballot before Election Day. Voting is already under way in some form in at least 40 states.

And in even more heartening news, “The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a last-gasp appeal by Ohio Republicans and approved early voting for Ohio residents on the weekend before Election Day.”

====================

And if you REALLY need a laugh, check out this Gangnam style parody, “Mitt Romney Style.”  I almost fell off my chair when I first saw this.

====================

GROUSY CAT SEZ:

Booyah.


Fine Fillet Edition

So I have always suspected this: far from being the addle-pated old fool that people like to portray him as, Biden is a shrewd, savvy politician who knows how to play the “gaffe-prone” guy in order to advance a bigger objective.

It is with modified glee, that I point to tonight’s debate performances as evidence. It was a fine filleting of Rep. Paul Ryan, and sent a sigh of relief rolling through the ranks of Demos riled by Romney’s lies and Obama’s apparent indifference  to them in the last week’s debate.

But even before tonight, I had my suspicions about Joe.  Take his so-called gaffe on gay marriage.  Supposedly he just blurted out his support for gay marriage and irritated the president, putting the Obama administration in an awkward position. Know what? I think you don’t get to be a veteran politician with 40 years experience by shooting off your mouth unless it’s calculated. I see Joe in a meeting with the president saying, “Hey, let me just go out there and take the temperature of the water.  If it’s a horrible idea, it’ll just be crazy old Joe shooting off his mouth, but if it’s the right time, then you’ll find out.”

And when Obama’s gay marriage support speech rolled out,  I knew for sure that Joe is one helluva smart political strategist whose greatest advantage is that he doesn’t care what people think about him personally.

But back to the debate at hand. First off, props to Martha Raddatz.  She’s feisty right from the start, “I would like to begin with Libya.”  Whoa, Nellie! No softball question? No inane “what is the difference” queries?  Just, “Good evening, gentlemen, let me set a breakneck pace here by asking you about libyan terrorists assassinating a US Ambassador.” Yeah. I love it. In a tweetshell, as Vanity Fair put it: “Yo, Jim Lehrer, This Is What Killing It Looks Like.”

The NY Times’ Alessandra Stanley observes:

For Mr. Biden especially, the night was his chance to relive past debates and unleash his inner barroom brawler. He had to be contained and courteous when he debated Sarah Palin four years ago, lest he look like a bully. This time he let loose. And unlike the courtly Mr. Bentsen in 1988, Mr. Biden turned his temperature up, singeing the young man across the table with patronizing grins, but mostly withering retorts. His interruptive barrage was as relentless as his silent mugging for the camera.

Mr. Ryan held his own, but did look abashed when Mr. Biden mocked him for opposing the Obama stimulus, yet asking for government funds for his own district. “On two occasions, we — we — we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants,” Mr. Ryan said stiffly.

“I love that. I love that,” Mr. Biden said. “This was such a bad program, and he writes me a letter saying — writes the Department of Energy a letter saying, the reason we need this stimulus — it will create growth and jobs.”

And if Biden looked authoritative and no-nonsense, Ryan often seemed rattled, like a punky, arrogant little kid who’s just been called out on blatant lies and is desperately trying to keep his cool and bluster his way through. His little “heh-heh” chuckle creepily reminds me of GWShrub’s grating little trademark snigger.

Oh, and by the way, these are real photos of Paul Ryan– he posed for Time Magazine, when he was the 2011 runner up for Person of the Year (???). Don’t ask.
But before I leave the topic of Ryan’s appearance, I’m going to say again… Hannover Fiste.  Remarkable. (Thanks, Todd, now I can’t see anything else…)

Anyway, pundits on the right will claim that Biden was unhinged because they can’t refute what he said, and those on the left will  rejoice that FINALLY someone is starting to call out the Romney-Ryan lie machine.

They get to Medicare entitlements and Ryan tries to drag his mom into the discussion. In his response, Biden offhandedly reminds us that he filleted Sarah Palin on the death panel debate and can fillet Ryan just as neatly.

Some favorite Biden lines:

  • “That is a bunch of malarkey!”
  • “Go on our Web site. He sent me two letters saying by the way, ‘Can you send me stimulus money? It will create growth and jobs. Those are his words. And now, he’s sitting here looking at me?”
  • “By the way, any letter you send me, I’ll entertain it.”
  • “Oh so now you’re Jack Kennedy…”

And one of my favorite Biden responses managed to wrap the 47% remark, the GM bailout,  and Romney’s veteran policies neatly into a response on unemployment figures:

Let’s look at the — let’s take a look at the facts. Let’s look at where we were when we came to office. The economy was in free fall. We had — the Great Recession hit. Nine million people lost their job, 1.7 — $1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes, in retirement accounts from the middle class.

We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class. And in addition to that, when that — and when that occurred, what did Romney do? Romney said, no, let Detroit go bankrupt. We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, no, let foreclosures hit the bottom.

But it shouldn’t be surprising for a guy who says 47 percent of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. My friend recently, in a speech in Washington, said 30% of the American people are takers. These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax. They are elderly people who in fact are living off of Social Security. They are veterans and people fighting in Afghanistan right now who are, quote, not paying any taxes.

I’ve had it up to here with this notion that 47 percent — it’s about time they take some responsibility here. And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class, we’re going to level the playing field. We’re going to give you a fair shot again.

Says Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast: “Biden’s affect is the most important thing tonight. He seems like the elder statesman but also a pitbull.”

And at the Economist, reaction was: “Joe Biden was easily the more memorable debater in every way; he was louder, more emotional, lucid, detailed, garrulous, grinning, teary-eyed and just Joe Biden. He sank some real barbs into Romney-Ryan. The Biden that Mr Obama hired in 2008 to excite lower-middle-class types from Scranton showed up and did his job. Ryan was cool, impressively calm given his unpredictable opponent, and detailed, but seemed reactive much of the night. He could have put Obama-Biden on the spot for their deficit failures more effectively; as it was, more time was spent on how Mr Romney’s numbers don’t add up (a potential future deficit) than the actual deficit itself.”

Sam Youngman of Reuters on PBS: Joe’s message was “Hey, welcome to my turf, rookie.”

And I won’t deny that Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker pretty much gets it right: “In a poll of Democratic voters taken immediately following Thursday night’s Vice-Presidential debate, a wide majority said they wanted Vice-President Joe Biden to appear in all remaining 2012 debates,” adding, “Obama should crush a little bit of Joe Biden into a joint and smoke it.”

So, how did Joe do? If you must know my opinion, he cleanly filleted Ryan before the guy even knew what was going on, and  then he packaged him up with a wine sauce to cover that off-flavor of hypocrisy and put a few nice clean chives on the top.

============================
So early voting began in California last Tuesday, and we realized that in order to vote at this juncture, we would have to wade through our positions on nearly a dozen ballot measures and another handful of local propositions. So, Californians, we are now prepared to reveal our recommendations on everything from gross receipt taxes to GMO labeling to the human trafficking.  Interested?  Send me a message and I’ll be happy to share our snarky take on this year’s props.  And when you know which way you want to vote on your local and state props,

GO VOTE. 

In-person early voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho,  Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana,  California, and beginning today, Arizona.

You can vote by absentee ballot already in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas,Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississipi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas,Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Florida.

===============================
GROUSEY CAT SEZ: 
 “Sometimes I leave malarkey in the litterbox…
and sometimes I leave malarkey on the carpet…”

 


Nearly-Incoherent-With-Rage Edition

What. Was. That.

I’m so angry after watching the first Presidential Debate live from Denver that I can barely form the words.

TranscriptVideo.  Arghhhhhh.

I screamed at the TV like a deranged maniac, causing my poor Grousey Cat to literally fall off the ottoman and retreat in a huff under the table while I worked myself into a livid fury.

Must. Calm. Self. Not. Good. for. Blood. Pressure.

But now the debate is over. My Grousey Cat has emerged to give me a tentative, calming, wet-nosed nudge, and my Editorial Cat has walked across my keyboard, promising to help edit, if I promise not to be scary anymore.

First off, can we please, PLEASE, PLEASE get a moderator with a fricking backbone?  Jim Lehrer was, in the words of my perceptive husband, “worthless.” Not only did Jim himself often interrupt Obama claiming time was up, he let Romney run roughshod over him, and demand extra time, natter on about whatever he wanted to talk about and interrupt the president as much as he pleased. He didn’t force either of them to stick to the topics or the time limits, and on top of that, his idiotic kickoff questions–“What is the difference between you and your opponent on fill-in-the-blank” was how he started every damn segment–were an embarrassment to the whole proceeding. Jim, that was not only useless, ineffectual, and pandering, it was damn lazy. It made it look like you spent no time at all preparing to moderate this debate.

I would like to also propose a system in which the candidates are locked in two soundproof booths, and unable to be heard unless their mike is turned on.

That or some kind of electronic muzzle. Or automatic pepper-spray spritzes in the face whenever they say something that is a lie.

I’m designing it in my head, and thinking it could be a big seller.

Because tonight’s offerings from Mitt Romney were RIDDLED with whoppers that have ALREADY BEEN PROVEN TO BE LIES! I hope the fact-checkers have a field day with this.

Here are a few that have already hit the boards:

  • 12 million jobs: Mr. Romney promised to create 12 million jobs over the next four years if he is elected president. That is actually about as many jobs as the economy is already expected to create, according to some economic forecasters.
  • “I did not propose a $5Trillion tax cut: It is true that Mr. Romney has proposed “revenue neutral” tax reform, meaning that he would not expand the deficit. However, he has proposed cutting all marginal tax rates by 20 percent — which would in and of itself cut tax revenue by $5 trillion.
  • $716 billion cut for Medicare: How long are we going to have to listen to this one? “These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise.”

The sad truth is that it was a slick performance by Romney, who was aggressive and energetic. He was well-prepped, using coded keywords and appropriating Demo buzz phrases with a Tea Party twist– “trickle down government,” “economy tax.”  Aside from the actual ballsy outrageousness of his lies, his biggest misstep was saying he’d fire Big Bird and Jim Lehrer, although, personally, at this point, I’d fire Jim Lehrer too.

By contrast Obama’s performance was frankly lackluster.  I know some people will disagree and feel that his non-combativeness was more presidential, but it was also less inspiring, and looked indecisive and confused. When Romney claims that he just wants to help those Americans out there who are hurting, why didn’t Obama hit back with “but you mean not the 47% of them who support me?”

When Romney accuses him of pillaging $716 billion from Medicare, why doesn’t he say, “ask your running mate Paul Ryan how it works, since he proposed the same plan.” When Romney makes a crack about repeating something that’s not true so often til people think its true, why not come back at him and say, “Perhaps you know all about that since SuperPACS supporting you have had so much practice doing exactly that–LYING.” And when Romney has the utter GALL to say that Obama should have gotten Republican support to pass his health care plan, I want to choke him. How about giving him a tart reply that if the Republicans had not CATEGORICALLY decided that blocking Obama (not the welfare of the country) was their TOP political priority , bipartisanship would have been a possibility.

This really frosts me.  When Romney says, “But the right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the providers across America, telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have,” why isn’t Obama retorting, “Oh, you mean the way you’d like to come between a doctor and a woman exercising her right to choose?”

And when Romney has the nerve to spout this little gem, “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own plane, your own house, but not your own facts,” you need to hit back with, “Right, Mitt, you think only YOU are entitled to your own facts–that’s an ‘entitlement’ you take advantage of every day.”

Instead, Obama looks unpracticed–he stutters, seems to be looking down all the time during Romney’s responses, and generally comes across as unfocused and rambling.  It was a totally ennervated performance, that has me wondering where the Obama of 2004 or 2008 is?  There’s a hell of a difference between rising above the negativity to look presidential and just being plain old boring.  Word is that sparring with John Kerry was his debate prep. Well, sadly, he looked like John Kerry–and not that cool, fiery Kerry from this year’s DNC, but the fumbling dry, boring Kerry of 2004 who got SwiftBoated without even raising a peep about the lies told about him.

Joe Klein says: “Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting President. Romney–credit where it’s due–was calm, clear, convincing (even when he was totally full of it) and nearly human. The real mystery was Obama. Where on earth was he? Why was his debate strategy unilateral disarmament? Why did he never speak in plain English: “Mitt, you’re selling a fantasy. Bill Clinton proved it. He raised taxes on the wealthy and the economy boomed. George Bush lowered taxes drastically and the economy tanked. How’s your plan any different than Bush’s?”

Excellent point. Why did Obama never even MENTION Bush and hang the Shrubbery around Mitt Romney’s neck??

And Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast says, “Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama’s meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look.”

I don’t know what the polls are going to look like after this, but I fear it will not be good for Obama.

Is this whole exercise a canny way to shake all of us supporters out of our complacency and send us into a full-blown panic, lest we take this election for granted?  Mr. President, it’s not necessary to give us heart attacks.  Really. You can just ask us kindly to get out there and vote.

=========================

GROUSEY CAT SEZ:

“Ow. I hurt myself when I fell of the ottoman. Don’t make me hurt myself again.”

GO VOTE NOW. 

In-person early voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho,  Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio.

You can vote by absentee ballot already in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas,Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississipi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas,Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Florida.

On Monday we here in California can begin early voting.


Blunderbuss edition

DEBATE PREP

Where to begin?

It’s debate season–one of my favorite parts of the election cycle. and with the first debate coming up tomorrow, I’m  feeling more than slightly revved up about the campaign.

In case you haven’t looked at the schedule, the first presidential debate, coming from Denver and starting at 9 pm ET (6pm PT), covers domestic policy–topics include the economy, the economy, the economy and health care.

The candidates are sequestered away prepping madly for the event, of course.

“Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August,” reports the New York Times.

Ezra Klein at WaPo offers this pro tip: “If your strategy to turn the presidential election around relies on Romney’s sense of comic timing, you might want to prepare a Plan B, as well.”

It’s been a while since my last rant, and I’ve been holding myself back, biting my fist, trying to contain that unbecoming tinge of schadenfreude that was coloring my cheeks–that smug smirk that crossed my lips whenever I heard about another Romney gaffe.

What can I say? It’s been an enlightening few weeks.

Let’s start with Libya and the horrifying violence that followed the YouTube video mocking Mohammed that was promoted by Terry Jones–not the Monty Python guy, I’m talking about the American pastor who wanted to burn Korans in 2010 and hanged (read “lynched”) Barack Obama in effigy  earlier this year. How is it the Secret Service is not ALL OVER this guy?

Anyway, after the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens at the hands of a mob/terrorists, Romney, with his steel-trap-like grasp of foreign events, decided to slam the president for sympathizing with the attackers.  Too bad that was completely and absurdly untrue and everyone knew it. If you like timelines the way I do, you can follow along in detail and see how Romney managed to respond before either Secretary of State Clinton or President Obama had made a statement.

Add to that that no one likes a political candidate scoring political points at a moment when national unity was called for–and on September 11 no less. “If the past week was Mitt Romney’s opportunity to show how he would handle a foreign crisis, the GOP nominee did not put his best foot forward as far as voters are concerned,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a press release.

At Slate, Fred Kaplan  pointed out: “No other prominent Republican, even those who have vigorously criticized Obama in the past, has spoken out against the president on this issue. Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell, as well as House Speaker John Boehner, have stepped before microphones to condemn the attacks, mourn the deaths, and assert American unity in seeking justice. These politicians know, as Romney apparently doesn’t, that in these sorts of crises, the proper thing to do is to rally around the flag. Ironically, it’s also the politically smart thing to do. Imagine if Romney had called President Obama, asked how he could be of assistance in this time of crisis, offered to appear at his side at a press conference to demonstrate that, when American lives are at risk, politics stop at the water’s edge—and then had his staff put out the word that he’d done these things, which would have made him look noble and might have made Obama look like the petty one if he’d waved away these offers.”

Then there was the delightfully candid remarks Romney made at a June fundraiser which surfaced in video from last week. Really?  47% of Americans “believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement…I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Hmmmm, maybe “entitlement” defines an arrogant rich guy who think he can dismiss half the country as freeloading peons who aren’t worth his consideration.

As Andrew Tanenbaum at Electoral Vote says, quite astutely, “The danger for Romney is that this story reinforces his image of wanting to be the President for the upper half. Gaffes only matter when they reinforce an existing stereotype and this one does.” Tanenbaum also points out that scooped up in Romney’s 47% are “government employees, soldiers, veterans, people on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, people who have gotten Small Business Administration loans, people who work for government contractors or companies the government bailed out (like banks and GM) are at least somewhat dependent on government.”

========================

Polling that heartens...

Here’s the part I really like, though. I like to look at pretty polling graphs, and by pretty, I mean ones that point to a clear trend with sanity prevailing… Here is the state of the electoral vote, from electoral-vote.com, with handy markers for key events, and including the states that are considered swing states if they were to vote today. Notice the little blip around the 47% remark…

Here is the same graph but without the swing states included. See? Relatively the same curves, but with Obama just jogged over the all-important 270 line with the help of Romney’s 47% remark…

For reference, here is the graph from 2008, and you can see that actually McCain was in a better position than Romney at this point in the election–that is shortly after the McCain gaffe-fest started and certainly before the debates.

It’s also interesting to look at the volatility level of previous elections.  For instance the polling from the 2004 election (Kerry vs. Bush) makes this year’s election look positively serene. 

======================

GROUSEY CAT SEZ:

VOTE NOW!!!

I know in those swing states you’re probably buried under campaign ads and sick of even thinking about the election.  I have a solution: Early Voting.  Vote now and you’ll never have to think about it again.

Not sure when early voting starts in your state?  Check out this calendar.

Check in with your friends! 

In-personearly voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho,  Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio.

You can vote by absentee ballot already in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas,Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississipi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas,Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Florida.

On Monday we here in California can begin early voting.  Just do it!


Unranting Edition

Were you looking for a rant after the last day of the convention?

Yeah, I was too.

When I turned off the Dem convention Day Three last night, I was looking for that fired-up energy.

You know, the couch-slapping, galvanic kind of energy  I got at the end of Bill Clinton’s Day Two speech or the poignant warmth that I felt at the end of Michelle Obama’s encomium on Day One.

Don’t get me wrong, Obama gave a good speech. It had some memorable lines and excellent points, but, as with many of the speeches he’s given in the past few years, I felt like it was geared more toward dialing things down than firing things up. And after we turned off the TV, I didn’t really have any particular feelings about the speech, other than that it was good, not great.

Still, I think it says a lot about him and his approach that his speech slowed me down. I wasn’t typing furiously the way that I did after the Republican convention speakers, or even at the close of the last two days of the DNC. In the morning, I’m chewing over it and still asking myself how I felt about it. The answer is positive, although not necessarily inspired.

The fact that we’ve always known is that Obama is not a grandstander or a demagogue. And he’s not a ranter like me.  Now, I love to see that other people are as outraged as I am, that they’re as vexed by the misinformation and obfuscations that have been flying this political season. I like to watch Bill Clinton preach and Jennifer Granholm rip into Romney. Even last night, it was John Kerry, of all people, who was on fire:”Our opponents like to talk about ‘American Exceptionalism,’ but all they do is talk. The only thing exceptional about today’s Republicans is that — almost without exception — they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place.”

And Joe Biden, who’s often painted as a buffoon in the news media, gave a disarmingly heartfelt and stirring populist speech, exhorting folks to look to a future where we promote the “private sector, not the privileged sector.” Although I worry about Bob Woodward’s new book being a thorn in Obama’s side, it seems his portrayal of Biden confirms what I’ve always suspected: that he’s savvier than you think, and doesn’t care what his public image is as long the job gets done.

BUT, none of this is Obama’s style. We could see that from Day One of his presidency in his inaugural address. Last night’s speech, to be honest, wasn’t full of soaring rhetoric, or even broad, sweeping ideas. His sauciest one liner–“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”– was delivered with more exasperation than charm.

However, I think it was designed to reframe the entire conversation and in its own understated way, re-entrench (if I may coin a word) his supporters, by reminding them of what we like about him. He’s honest, unafraid to face tough realities, works hard for what he believes in, and is humble enough that everything doesn’t need to be about him. Some of what I thought were his best lines last night underscored that:

“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy.  I never have.  You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear.  You elected me to tell you the truth.”

“So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me.  It was about you.  My fellow citizens – you were the change.”

“And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'”

“America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now.  Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place.  Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together.  We don’t turn back.  We leave no one behind.  We pull each other up.”

Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast had it right, I think, when he said, “I don’t think it was a game-changer. I do think it sets an optimistic tone for the campaign and a stark choice for Americans this fall. This convention was much better than last week’s. Clinton’s speech alone was worth the whole thing. But this will now be decided in the debates. They will be more than usually vital. I suspect Obama kept his waverers on his side tonight, fired up his base, but failed to break away. We’ll see.”

The reaction from around the blogosphere is pretty much in agreement. James Fallows at the Atlantic says, “I thought it was not one of his best but that it did the job.” And at the NY Times, David Brooks’ assessment is : “Thursday night’s speech showed the character and his potential. It didn’t show audacity and the fulfillment of that potential.” And Howard Kurtz at the Daily Beast says: “It was not Obama’s greatest speech, nor his most passionate. It was, instead, a grown-up speech, a substantive speech, one that hit high notes but never soared to the heights. Whatever afterglow it created may soon fade as voters again confront the realities of the shaky economy, and the fresh unemployment figures due out Friday morning.”

So here’s the thing though. Mixed in with my musings on the Obama speech, I was also pondering the post of a Facebook friend, a Conservative  Baptist I’ve known since high school, who says that she is hiding the posts of some people that she knows until this election is over. I have to assume that I’m on that list, since I merrily post political items on my timeline all the time. Add to that the request from another friend that I not send her emails any longer because “politics just isn’t her thing.”

Now, I’m not offended, but it brings home a reality that I think we have to face up to. People who are Republican supporters are just as unlikely to change their minds about anything to do with Obama as I am to change my mind about Romney. A few weeks ago there was a report on NPR which I can’t find now, but the upshot of it was that for those of us who have a partisan bent, whether it be left or right, it is nearly impossible to make us change our minds now. But there are surprisingly few people, even among independents who HAVEN’T yet made up their minds.

Was this dog-and-pony show going to change the opinions of anyone out there?  Nope. Neither convention could ever have done that and frankly,neither the RNC nor the DNC was without cringe-worthy moments. On balance, I think the Dems came out ahead, despite the wrangling over putting “God” and Jerusalem in the platform, and despite the embarrassing move out of the stadium venue for the last night. After all, the Republicans lost a whole day to the hurricane, had to contend with Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, and were raked over the coals for Paul Ryan’s factually-challenged speech.

Instead, I think we have to use these moments to remind ourselves of why it’s important that we not get lazy about this election, why it’s important that everyone gets out there to vote. Why it’s important that we refute the lies of course, and battle the misinformation wherever we find it, and take this election seriously.

===========================
GROUSY CAT SEZ:
Only kitties can afford to be lazy. Get out and vote.

Top Bill-ing Edition

DNC Day Two.

Okay, I’m ready. I’ve got my cat next to me, my laptop  fired up and my hand on the pause button so I can blog as we go….  bring it on!

Firstly, yes, there are just as many boring speakers at the DNC as at the RNC last week. Yes, their ideas are more in line with my views generally, but if I’m being honest, these conventions are really tedious, far too predictable and far too carefully scripted. Except for Bill Clinton.

Hold that thought. We’ll come back to that.

If you were watching CBS or ABC you would have missed one interesting thing:  Sandra Fluke’s speech. It’s a not-funny non-irony, because as you might remember, she was the Georgetown Law student who was prevented from testifying on the importance of birth control to a House committee. You know, the woman Rush Limbaugh labeled a “slut” for speaking up about how insurance companies need to cover birth control.

After Sandra, there are a few more good, but not notable speakers. And then, Elizabeth Warren–yes! You know why I love this woman?  Because she’s PROGRESSIVE and not apologetic about it.  There are days I want Obama to be so much more progressive, days when I want Dems to stand up and yes, have a frickin’ backbone. And on those days, I watch the YouTube video of Elizabeth Warren going off, just to make me feel better, to remind me that I ain’t so crazy, and that there are leaders out there who are share my lefty-liberal, socially responsible viewpoint.

Warren’s speech isn’t a barn burner, but she makes a lot of good points and she doesn’t sound like a crazy person. Nice and calm. I can appreciate that after listening to people shout into the microphone all night.

But now… it’s time for Bill Clinton.  Everyone sit up, grab your drinks and pay attention. This–THIS is what we’ve been waiting for. Freakin’ brilliant.  I’m thinking it’s one of the best speeches we are going to see here in Charlotte and wondering if Obama can top that. Of course, I thought that same thing back in 2008 too.

As I’m watching it, I’m looking at the transcript, meaning his prepared remarks, and noticing the little differences, the extra facts that he sprinkles throughout brilliantly. I love his digression from the text to talk about National Security and Hillary’s work as Secretary of State. Man has a mind like a steel trap. As Huffpo says, Bill kills it.

Here are some of my “Thank you!” lines–you know, the ones where you slap the couch and shout, “Thank you! Finally someone said it!”:

I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside.  A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.

The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made.  One of our greatest Democratic Chairmen, Bob Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain’t so.

Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24.  In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs.  What’s the jobs score?  Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!

I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don’t feel it. I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the President’s contract you will feel it.

There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.

When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s “biggest coldest power play” in raiding Medicare, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You see, that 716 billion dollars is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget. [Then Clinton ad libs] You got to admit, it takes some brass to attack a guy for what you did.

People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.

Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left, because it defied arithmetic. [and he ad libs]It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was a country boy from Arkansas and came from a place where people thought  two and two was four.

Clinton has always had this uncanny ability to make complicated policy stuff comprehensible, he can make people LOVE hearing budget numbers. At 48 minutes, he runs overtime by about half an hour, and nobody even cares. He must be the only politician I’ve ever seen who can keep an audience in rapt attention while quoting jobs figures to them.  How does he do it?? The spell he has over the crowd is awe-inspiring. Paula Poundstone tweeted, “I want a Bill Clinton backpack, a Bill Clinton lunchbox, Bill Clinton toothpaste, Bill Clinton curtains, and a Bill Clinton beach towel…” (Paula, let me know where I can order those–call me!)

Oh, and after a three-day GOP convention in which everyone tiptoed around the very mention of any Bushes, how ironic is it that the only shout-out heard in either convention comes from Bill Clinton at the DNC? Hah.

Says US News &World Report: “Clinton’s mournful recounting that extremist elements of the GOP had driven “two distinguished Republican senators” out of office was also not in his prepared remarks. It was part of a brilliant riff where Clinton adopted a post-partisan tone—speaking fondly of GOP presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Reagan, and even both Bushes—while effectively doing the very partisan work of demonstrating that the Republicans have become hostage to rigid and uncompromising ideologues.”

Joe Klein at Time Mag says, “Bill Clinton talks about policy–about the substance of governing–better than any other politician I’ve ever heard. He keeps it simple and he keeps it accurate. He can make Medicare as dramatic as warfare. He did a major demolition job on the Republican Party’s economic policy tonight. He held it to the light of the facts. And it crumbled, as those of us who follow these things knew it would.”

And Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast is equally enthusiastic: “Holy smokes. That was the best political speech more or less ever. There wasn’t a thing he didn’t touch on, and there wasn’t a thing he didn’t just blast out of the park. His carriage and delivery nailed it for partisans and for persuadables. He hit Republican obstructionism. He slammed the Romney and Ryan plans on virtually every point they’ve raised in the last six months, from the welfare ads to the tax cuts to the Medicare “cuts” to so much more, and he did it in detail.”

Even Scott Galupo at American Conservative says, “The case he made against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan was devastating. The speech was chockfull of soundbite-ready takeaways: “There they go again.” “We can’t afford to double down on trickle-down.” “One word: Arithmetic.” And there were substantive segments on Medicare, welfare, student loan reform, energy policy, etc.”

And Andrew Sprung at xpostfactoid offers what I can only hope is a truth: “What a giant enterprise. He set himself singlehandedly to counter a billion dollars in attack ads, to break through the core Republican lies and obfuscations.”

Anyway, after Bill’s speech, I quietly turn off the TV to absorb. And then I turn it back on and rewind it to watch again. It’s just that good.  Go on. Watch it again.

=========================================

Notes from elsewhere

And in the “Are You KIDDING ME?” Department, this from HuffPo: “On December 10, 2010, Ryan penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a grant application for the Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc to develop a new facility in Racine, Wisconsin, an area within Ryan’s district. “The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare,” Ryan wrote. The grant Ryan requested was funded directly by the Affordable Care Act, better known simply as healthcare reform or Obamacare.”

Yeah. Uh-huh. Ad that to the list of hypocrisies.

And in other fascinating news, Gallup reports that Mitt Romney got almost no “bounce” from last week’s convention.  Which either says that there’s no shifting to be had, or that was a pretty sucky convention.  Guess which one I think is the case….

=============================

GROUSY CAT SEZ:

“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”


In the Tank Edition

Clearly I am in the tank for Barack Obama.  It’s a nice tank. I like it a lot. I’ve installed a comfy couch in one corner of this tank and I’m planning to stay here.

Yep, it’s time for the Democratic Convention–and after managing to contain the rage (yes,that was contained) that the GOP convention elicited, I feel like I can finally enjoy politics for a brief shining moment. 

Everyone is a little shouty, except for Kathleen Sebelius, but they’re hitting the right notes. Tammy Duckworth and Lily Ledbetter are there, as is Rahm Emmanuel with some great observations about life in the Obama White House that make me long for the “West Wing.” He reveals that Obama reads ten letters from average Americans every night to ground him and remind him of what they were working for. Why do I doubt Mitt Romney would ever even entertain the thought of such a thing?

Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts gave a fabulous fiery wonderful speech–I especially loved his exhortation to Democrats to grow a backbone–did that offend people? It should, because it’s true and it’s been a problem for Dems for decades. Still, Deval reminds us of all the Obama has accomplished, “With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office — and neither should you.” If you’re looking to get fired up, check his speech out.

Patrick’s not the keynote speaker though. That’s Julian Castro.  I’m still dreaming of a “West Wing” Matt Santos from Texas kind of situation. Castro’s TED talk was genial but not on fire.  In Charlotte though, he gets warmed up and he’s a great personable natural speaker, plus he gets a few great lines in there about Romney/Ryan: “Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will too. Folks, we’ve heard that before. First they called it “trickle-down.” Then “supply-side.” Now it’s “Romney-Ryan.” Or is it “Ryan-Romney”? Either way, their theory has been tested. It failed. Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price.”

Castro also tosses off this line: “In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay.”  Yeah, that’s a gibe about Ryan’s fibs about his fabulous marathon time.

The star speaker of the evening though is Michelle Obama. Gotta love it when “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is your theme music. Seriously, how much does this woman rock?

One can’t help contrasting Ann Romney’s speech with Michelle’s.  Ann got a lot of praise for her speech, but looked at next to Michelle’s, it pales–it comes across as inauthentic, nervous and and filled with non-specific generalities about life with Mitt.

I don’t doubt that Mitt and Ann started out in a basement apartment where they ate pasta and tuna on an ironing board, but she can’t carry the story through to say, “I understand your struggles,” because they don’t understand. There was a hollowness to Ann’s speech that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time, but which seems obvious when I watch Michelle. Ann was trying to tell the story she had been tasked by the RNC with framing, but wasn’t ready to lie to put the story over.

By contrast, Michelle’s speech is both gracious, and yet peppered with details of her experience that ring true and move us. “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are,” she says, and that is so damn true. She gets all verklempt at the end, I’m all verklempt, the entire convention floor is on its feet, people are crying and cheering at the same time.

As Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast says, “As she describes the courage, wisdom, patience and grace of Barack Obama, I see them too. I make no apologies for admiring this president as much as anyone in public life, and seeing his sincerity and integrity and hearing this woman tell the truth about him after so many lies, it all comes as a huge and joyous relief.”

Yes. This.

I was going to wrap with a recap of the five best speeches Obama has ever given, but you know what? Michelle’s speech is too good.  Just go watch her speech.

Republican Wrap

In Huffpo’s “Lies and the lying liars who tell them,” Sean Carman says: “And so here is the takeaway from last week’s saturation-level political activity, revealed not by the carefully-staged theater we witnessed, but by the moments in which the actors went off-script and the truth was accidentally revealed: Mitt Romney is not a particularly great decision-maker, and Paul Ryan is a liar.”

ThinkProgress has compiled  the Ultimate Guide to Mitt’s Convention speech.  There’s good stuff in there, a lot of it reiterated elsewhere (not that I object to fact-checking the GOP convention over and over and over again) but this particular item on the list drew my attention, because it’s often repeated, and infrequently rebutted, “Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt.” [The Hill,6/28/2012] REALITY: According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare reduces the deficit by $124 billion over 10 years and even more after that. [Politifact, 6/28/2012]”

 

Let’s have a closer look at that graph from the CBPP:

In Salon, Robert Reich offered this view: “Every campaign is guilty of exaggerations, embellishments, distortions, and half-truths. But this is another thing altogether. I’ve been directly involved in seven presidential campaigns, and I don’t recall a presidential candidate lying with such audacity, over and over again. Why does he do it, and how can he get away with it? The obvious answer is such lies are effective. Polls show voters are starting to believe them, especially in swing states where they’re being repeated constantly in media spots financed by Romney’s super PAC or ancillary PACs and so-called “social welfare” organizations (political fronts disguised as charities, such as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have set up).”

Madeleine Albright: “It was appalling and disgusting,” she said. “But if I may say so, the things that he said in one form or another are in the Republican platform. So [while Republicans are] saying he is a nutcase and they have to move away from him, they did not move away from their platform.” Albright goes on to add this “I think there are some who believe they are actually protecting women, you know, and that it is better for women to be taken care of. I think women want to take care of themselves, and I think having a voice in how that is done is very important. And frankly, I don’t understand — I mean, I’m obviously a card-carrying Democrat — but I can’t understand why any woman would want to vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney.”

Also, the other invisible personalities at the GOP convention did not go unnoticed by Bill Maher, who says that the  GOP needs to admit the Bushes exist. Maher had this hilarious poke at Romney that I have to share–check out this money shot of Romney and colleagues at Bain Capital.  Kinda says it all…

And if you’re still wondering what the heck this company Romney worked for actually did,  Tony Soprano explains Bain Capital in easy-to-understand terms.

============================

GROUSY CAT SEZ: The voting shenanigans are multiplicitous.

Dems just won a victory with the recent ruling in Ohio that “ruled that Ohio made an “arbitrary” decision when it took away early-voting rights for most voters but carved out a special exemption for military and overseas voters.”

We need everyone to get out there and vote early. I’M NOT KIDDING HERE, PEOPLE!

Seth Masket at Mischiefs of Faction notes that the Obama camp has a clear advantage on the ground over Romney. Check out this graph. Obama has far more field offices in swing states than Romney.  Romney’s clearly betting on big ad buys, but, I have to wonder if that’s going to continue to help him or backfire when voters get fatigued and tired of seeing the endless meaningless ads.

Meantime, the development side of me thinks the knocking on doors, the social media, old fashioned person-to-person campaigning is going to be the way to go.


%d bloggers like this: