Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Post-Sandy, Gov. Christie on Obama, FEMA: “outstanding”

Via The National Memo:

Chris Christie has committed an almost unpardonable sin in the Republican Party: he’s given some honest praise to President Obama just days before the election.

On NBC’s Today Show Tuesday morning, Christie said,
The president has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA.

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

“China is… just ripping our heart out…”

… except when it’s making my new clothing line. Donald Trump really messed up on Letterman, and the host managed it very well.

Rachel Maddow’s show yesterday started with a clip of Donald Trump on Letterman, in which Trump continues the ever-idiotic political discourse on China.

Just watch the first couple minutes. It’s a good example, also, of the hypocrisy of the rhetoric (not that this should really be much of a surprise for anyone any more). It’s also interesting that China as an electoral issue (trans: punching-bag) has actually managed to stick around – usually, it’s a one-or-two-day story before it just fades away.

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The segment moves on to Mitt Romney’s Jeep lie/gaffe/ignorance (delete as appropriate dependent on your views).

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Huntsman 2012, New Hampshire – Working on the Campaign


by Eduardo Lopez-Reyes

Having lived briefly under Jon Huntsman’s tenure as Governor of Utah, and as someone who has a few things in common with the Governor – including his religious background, a life-shaping passion for rock music, and a conservative-but-libertarian-leaning, pragmatic approach to politics – I feel I was able to ponder what went wrong with the Governor’s presidential campaign from a fairly unique perspective; particularly as someone who served on the Jon Huntsman for President New Hampshire State Steering Committee.

The challenges I detected in New Hampshire included shifts through three different leadership styles in the campaign’s brief New Hampshire existence, an eventual single-state strategy, what I perceived as an apprehension to reach out to libertarian-leaning Republicans, and difficulty recognizing and properly capitalizing on new and (or) less politically seasoned supporters.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Salt Lake Tribune Endorses… President Obama.

This was a big surprise – the link I read was “Tribune Endorsement: Too Many Mitts”. Naturally, I figured Chicago Tribune, and immediately thought “Well, yeah.” As it turns out, though, it’s the Salt Lake Tribune, the home paper of Utah’s capital. (Which is apparently a wonderful city, and I would very much like to visit some time.)

The piece starts with the usual tale of Romney’s role in saving the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, a well-trod story – but also an oft-misunderstood one, as everyone seems to ignore the fact that a large reason for Romney’s ability to save it required the Federal Government to take on the debt…

Anyway, let’s move on to what the endorsement said next:

Romney managed to save the state from ignominy, turning the extravaganza into a showcase for the matchless landscapes, volunteerism and efficiency that told the world what is best and most beautiful about Utah and its people.

In short, this is the Mitt Romney we knew, or thought we knew, as one of us.

Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”

The piece continues, and things don’t get any better for Candidate Romney, as the piece echoes my own feelings about Mitt, a man who exhibits the courage of his ambitions and nothing more:

Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

This is a very good piece, and one I think is devastating for Romney (although, I do wonder just how widely it will be read). I had to try really hard not to reproduce here with enthusiastic support and my own thoughts of agreement.

Every week at work we select our favourite article of the past week. A colleague mentioned today that I never select one that I can’t criticize first (invariably, my complaint is that the author takes too long to get to their point, or the article’s length is questionable). I think this piece will be my next selection – irrespective of its politics, it is also a very well-written piece. Whoever wrote it has a wonderful, clean and fluid style that any aspiring journalists should take a look at and learn from.

The piece really is good, and it makes it perhaps clearer – as Alyssa just said to me – that Obama’s policy-appeal may be more with moderates than hard-core lefties, his tougher stance on foreign policy is more popular with moderates, and that the vicious partisanship is, actually, recognized in states outside of the “more traditionally political” (a horrible way of my saying New York, California and so forth).

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Obama, Romney… Serenade

Got this photo on MSNBC’s homepage just a moment ago. Not been watching the debate (about to tune in), and I thought the image made it look like President Obama and Romney were singing to each other…


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Matt Taibbi Says Biden “Absolutely Right” to Laugh at Ryan


In the inimitable Taibbi’s latest blog-post for Rolling Stone, he turns his excellent attention and cutting wit onto the VP debate, and supports Vice President Joe Biden’s less-than-serious tone and demeanour:

I’ve never thought much of Joe Biden. But man, did he get it right in last night’s debate, and not just because he walloped sniveling little Paul Ryan on the facts. What he got absolutely right, despite what you might read this morning (many outlets are criticizing Biden's dramatic excesses), was his tone. Biden did absolutely roll his eyes, snort, laugh derisively and throw his hands up in the air whenever Ryan trotted out his little beady-eyed BS-isms.

But he should have! He was absolutely right to be doing it. We all should be doing it. That includes all of us in the media, and not just paid obnoxious-opinion-merchants like me, but so-called “objective” news reporters as well. We should all be rolling our eyes, and scoffing and saying, “Come back when you’re serious.”

Taibbi’s piece is, as always, highly quotable, and riddled with quotations and analysis and deconstructions of Ryan’s tax “plan” side-stepping and distortions. Here’s a bit from Ryan’s answer I thought didn’t get enough attention. It came after Raddatz asked for specifics on the obviously-non-existant Romney-Ryan tax plan:

Lower tax rates 20 percent – we raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forgo about 1.1 trillion [dollars] in loopholes and deductions. And so what we're saying is deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation…” [emphasis mine]

There are $1.1 trillion worth of deductions out there? This is an interesting notion, seeing as before this nobody’s been able to mention any specific deduction that they are going to cut, and I can’t see them actually cutting the largest ones, because they are directly responsible for keeping Romney’s “income” taxes so damned low. At the same time, Romney has promised to explode Defense spending (graph, below, from The Rachel Maddow Show):

2012 - Romney Defence Spending.png

That’s about $350 billion in additional spending, on top of the vast defence budget that the US maintains (same as the rest of the world combined, if you didn’t already know that fact). Where’s that money going to come from? Oh, that’s right. “Deficits don’t matter…” (Dick Cheney) Also, bear in mind that the DoD hasn’t even asked for that raise. It has asked for pretty much what President Obama is prepared and willing to accept and sign into the budget.

Taibbi also takes a moment to discuss the much-discussed idea of media objectivity and how it is, perhaps going too far:

“Sometimes in journalism I think we take the objectivity thing too far. We think being fair means giving equal weight to both sides of every argument. But sometimes in the zeal to be objective, reporters get confused. You can't report the Obama tax plan and the Romney tax plan in the same way, because only one of them is really a plan, while the other is actually not a plan at all, but an electoral gambit.”

While you’re there, be sure to check out Taibbi’s response to the Presidential Debate and also why the 2012 Presidential Election should never be as close as it seems to be.

My favourite tweet from the VP Debate goes to Chris Rock:

Mark Bowden’s “Hunt for Geronimo” & “The Finish”

Bowden-TheFinishI’ve been on the fence about the books covering the raid on bin Laden’s compound. I just haven’t seen the potential value in these accounts. In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, though, Mark Bowden has a piece adapted from his new book, The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden (Grove/Atlantic). The piece is good, and it’s actually made me want to read the book. Bowden, most famously, is the author of Black Hawk Down.

President Obama saw it as a “50–50” proposition. Admiral Bill McRaven, mission commander, knew something would go wrong. So how did the raid that killed bin Laden get green-lighted?

The article is filled with well-written accounts of how the decision was made – it’s actually not long enough, of course, which is a large part of why I now want to read the book. I’m fascinated with how and why certain policies are made, not just what that policy is – this is something I’ve often thought is lacking in foreign policy-analysis, at least to the levels and details I’m interested in, or if it’s not a “scandal” (like the Iraq War decision…).

Monday, 8 October 2012

This is unconscionable…

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A car-parts manufacturer is basically telling its employees that if Obama is re-elected, they’ll get less pay, because there will be higher taxes and so forth, which the employees will have to pay for.