“Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door. There were lots of people crying and screaming.The officers led children past the carnage. “They said ‘Close your eyes, hold hands.’”
How many times do we have to repeat this scene before we tell the ideologues who run the NRA that they no longer have a veto on gun legislation? Even the rank and file of the NRA believe in background checks to keep criminals and the mentally ill from getting access to firearms. But Wayne LaPierre and his minions want to protect the right of gun show dealers to sell to anyone with no background checks needed. This has to stop. Congress needs to pass a bill with the following pieces, now.
- No gun show loopholes for background checks
- Ban assault rifles
- Ban large magazines for semi automatics
This is at least a start. Read more…
The phony Republican outrage after Tim Geithner’s visit to Congress yesterday shows what a pickle they are in. Geithner carried to the Hill the same proposal Obama made to Boehner and Co. last Friday, but this time the Speaker went public with his outrage as if he had never heard the proposal before. According to insiders, that’s because Boehner didn’t think Obama was serious last week and only now realizes the President is serious as a heart attack.
Time is on Obama’s side. If the Republican leadership won’t yield before December 31, the Bush Tax Cuts go away and Republican’s get blamed for raising taxes on the middle class. You can bet a bill changing that gets passed within days and so all this talk of fiscal Armageddon is pure nonsense. The bigger question for progressives is how to hold on to the big cuts in the Military budget that were part of the sequester. As Christopher Drew has pointed out, there is so much waste and incompetence in Pentagon weapons budgets, that cutting the billions from their budget is desperately needed to force them to get their house in order. This is where the Liberal-Libertarian coalition against the Military Industrial Complex has got to step up to the plate.
This image of Sheldon Adelson wheeling his way out of a busted Romney Victory Celebration seems so telling to me. This sad old man, with his badly dyed hair, who thought he could buy the election, unable to even walk away with dignity. In the end, he did not really understand our country. His own personal piqué at having to pay more taxes is a kind of Madame LaFarge gesture, but the Sans Culottes are right outside the walls of his Venetian Palace and some of them are even inside, cleaning the drunk gamblers barf off the bathroom floor. If there is any justice, he will be in jail at this time next year for bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Can you imagine what Karl Rove’s life has been like for the last 36 hours? All those billionaires ringing him up asking, “what the fuck happened?”, knowing full well that they had bet the house on a loser, not because of any great principle, but simply to keep their tax cuts and get rid of the EPA and Dodd Frank. In the last minutes of his expiring bet on Tuesday Night, when Rove tried to get Fox News to reverse their call that Obama had won, it revealed the smallness of the man and the deep failure of the whole exercise the Rove and Murdoch tried to foist on the American public.
And then there are the true bastards of this game, the Koch Brothers. Almost singlehandedly responsible for the climate change denial industry, they threatened their employees who didn’t vote for Romney. They spent their millions trying to keep from having to clean up all the dirty plants they run that poison our air and water.Good luck with that, boys.
The question must be asked. Do we have to go through this again in two years? Have these assholes learned their lesson? I doubt it. Hopefully some investigative reporter will really uncover the dark corruption of the Super Pac system. How much did Karl Rove make off Crossroads? Who were the secret donors who tried to stop California’s Prop 30 at the last moment? How is the Koch’s Super PAC a Social Welfare organization under the IRS code?
Donald Trump tweeted we need a revolution after his losing bet on Romney failed. If he and his billionaire buddies try to steal an election one more time, there will be a revolution, but it won’t be one the Donald is happy about, because the pitchfork brigades will be outside Trump Tower looking for his comb over scalp.
I said my piece before the vote as to what the election would mean for the Republicans (thank God Nate Silver was right), but a few quick thoughts on what it could mean for President Obama and the Democrats.
- The Fiscal Cliff-My advice would be to do nothing during the lame duck session. Let the Bush Tax cuts expire and let the sequester kick in, effecting the first major cut in defense spending in 60 years. Then in January with a slightly stronger Democratic Senate, push for a middle class tax cut combined with some tax reform that eliminates corporate tax breaks and try to revive the Jobs Act to spur some of the lost government fiscal stimulus. The economy is recovering and so private demand will take up some of the slack.
- Filibuster Reform-The Senate has once again got to be a functioning legislative body. Anyone who wants to filibuster a bill is going to have to play Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. They are going to have to come to the floor of the Senate and talk until they are hoarse. They are going to have to have the people that oppose cloture on the floor for continuous votes. My guess is we will not have another session of 350 filibusters if that was enacted.
- America 3.0-When asked how a huge bureaucratic company like IBM became so flexible, the CEO Sam Palmisano said, “We had to lower the center of gravity” at IBM, by which he meant push power out to the edges of the company. Obama has to use the miracle of the Federal system to get money to the states and cities to experiment with solutions for education, transportation, energy and housing.
- The Smart Grid-As Hurricane Sandy proved, we are operating with a 19th Century energy grid in a 21st Century world. As the folks in Chattanooga Tennessee have proved, a smart grid can recover quickly after a catastrophic weather event and that makes all the difference.
- Climate Change-Maybe Sandy will also get the climate change deniers to STFU. Energy independence and green power are of a piece. If Germany could run 50% of its electrical power off of solar for a couple of days last summer, surely the US could do better with vast stretches of desert just waiting for large solar and wind arrays.
If Nate Silver is right, it could be a surprisingly good night for President Obama. My favorite political oddsmaker has Obama’s chances of victory at 91%, with potentially 314 electoral votes. If this turns out to be the result, the Republican Party is going to have to do some major soul searching, because if they could not defeat a Democratic incumbent with unemployment at 7.9%, then must reconcile themselves to permanent minority status. In California Republicans represent just 28% of the population and as the diversity of our state becomes the national norm, the party of Old White Men will decline into irrelevance.
This decline explains some of the more egregious tactics of Republicans in the last six months. A party spends its efforts at disenfranchising the opposition party only when it cannot win elections on the strength of its platform. When you are no longer willing to speak for the young, the gays, the people of color, your only way to victory is the Jim Crow way. I’m old enough to have been involved in the Civil Rights movement in 1962 and 1963. The forces in the White Citizens Councils who would make sure that Blacks could not vote surely must have known that their days in power were numbered, but they didn’t care. They were going to fight for their “way of life” until the very end. Rick Scott, Governor of Florida, is no different than George Wallace in 1963 yelling “Segregation Forever”. The Tampa Bay Times editorial says it all.
Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican-led Legislature and the Republican Party of Florida have done everything they can to discourage you from voting and participating in democracy. Don’t let them get away with it.
The other aspect of the Dying Republican Party is the constant dog whistle of thinly cloaked racism that pervaded the Romney campaign. It’s all of a piece: from the early lies of Obama eliminating welfare requirements to the 47% remarks about people who would never take responsiblity for them selves, to John Sununu’s wish that Obama would learn how to be an American, to Donald Trumps incessant birtherism, right up to Paul Ryan’s closing statement that an Obama victory threatens “Judeo-Christian” values.
It’s a dangerous path, it’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place.
A Romney loss will cause the hard right to double down and say he wasn’t conservative enough. But the truth is that Paul Ryan’s pinched view of the American future is a minority view. And that minority will be even smaller in four years as many of the fiercest partisans die of old age.
Chris Christie is a smart politician. His full scale embrace of President Obama in the last three days was not done without consideration for the political value going forward. My guess is that Christie has seen enough internal Republican polling to understand that Obama will probably win on next Tuesday. He doesn’t want to be too closely associated with a loser like Mitt Romney. But more importantly he is thinking about 2016. Romney was losing badly until he did his frantic pivot to the center in the first debate. It must be clear to Republicans that a “severe conservative” cannot win a Presidential campaign. Given that Paul Ryan has made it clear that he would like to run for President, that leaves Christie as the centrist candidate in the party. Embracing a Democratic President in bi-partisan ardor, cements that position for 2016.
I think Christie is probably right about Romney losing. The ever dependable Nate Silver has raised Obama’s chance of victory to 79%, the highest it has been since just before the first debate.
Mr. Obama continues to hold the lead in the vast majority of polls in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin, the states that represent his path of least resistance toward winning the Electoral College. This was particularly apparent on Wednesday, a day when there were a remarkable number of polls, 27, released in the battleground states.
Christie’s apostasy has of course unleashed a fury on the far right. My sense is that if Romney loses the Republican circular firing squad will be out in force. El Rushbo will say Romney lost because he softened his conservative message in the closing weeks, ignoring the clear polling that the moderation was the only thing that got him close.
The closing days are going to be interesting, but I am beginning to feel pretty confident of an Obama victory.
When months ago Mitt Romney’s spokesman suggested he could Etch a Sketch his way back to the political center, I expected the Convention to be the venue for this makeover. But that was not to be, as a hall full of Tea Party fanatics would have actively booed a moderate acceptance speech from Romney. So they waited until the debates which had an additional benefit of catching Obama flat-footed in responding to Moderate Mitt.
The third debate last night was the most amazing part of the Etch a Sketch strategy. Since the beginning of the campaign, Romney has surrounded himself with George Bush’s most aggressive Neocon foreign policy experts, like John Bolton and Dan Senor. I would have given a lot to watch John Bolton observing Romney twist and sweat himself last night into the ultimate peacenik in his closing statement, “I want to see peace. I want to see growing peace in this country. It’s our objective.” But of course, just like all of Romney’s instant transformations, this one is not credible.
I’m convinced the Kumbaya routine from Romney comes from his pollsters who are telling him that America is tired of fighting wars in the Mideast and Romney’s bellicose rhetoric towards Iran is scaring voters. Obama needs to drive this home just the way LBJ used the famous daisy bomb ad to scare voters about Goldwater’s finger on the nuclear trigger. Obama already has an ad that makes this point. He should put it up nationally this week.
George Will said on ABC that last night’s debate was the best he has seen in his lifetime and I agree. He also said Obama won–and I agree. Determined to erase the memory of his poor performance two weeks ago, the President turned the first question of the night (on jobs) into a good right jab to Romney’s chin–”when Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go Bankrupt”–and never let up for the rest of the night.
The coup de grace came in the final exchange. Just like in a great prize fight I could see in slow motion that Romney had left himself open to a knockout when he began his final statement by saying, “I care about 100% of the people.” I said to the people in the room I was watching with ,”here comes the 47%”, and Obama did not disappoint.
I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.
Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.
And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.
When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.
That was the closing line of the debate. Romney was on the canvas. The Governor had tried to work the ref all night, but in the end he was outclassed. This was the comparison I had been waiting for. This is still going to be a very tight race, but I’m pretty sure Obama has stopped Romney’s move up. The instant polls all showed Obama winning the night, but Karl Rove and company are about to unleash a tsunami of advertising in the swing states. My guess is that the number of undecideds (who are these people?) is very small, so that November 6 will be all about enthusiasm and turnout. In that game, Obama just fired up his troops.
Two of the big research themes of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab converged in last night’s VP Debate: Social Sentiment Analytics and Transmedia Storytelling. The analytics part is fairly straightforward. For the last year in association with the Signals Analysis and Interpretation Lab, we have been recording the real time sentiment on Twitter of the Presidential Candidates. This is a huge corpus of data and during last week’s Presidential debate we were analyzing about 1400 tweets per second. Last night Joe Biden seemed to overwhelm Paul Ryan both in volume and in positive sentiment on our real time dashboard.
Which leads me to the second part of our work, Transmedia Storytelling. As our Chief Advisor Henry Jenkins has taught us, Transmedia is the art of telling a single story across multiple platforms, with each piece adding to the total narrative. The story cannot be told in a single commercial or a single debate as each piece adds to the transmedia narrative. Last night Joe Biden helped clarify the Democratic narrative that had been so muddied in the first debate by Mitt Romney’s desperate dash to the center.Two elements of the Democratic difference were hammered home relentlessly.
Clashing in a feisty, hard-edged debate, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday night repeatedly accused challenger Paul D. Ryan and his running mate, Mitt Romney, of favoring the rich at the expense of middle-class Americans and engaging in loose talk that could lead the country to another war.
Ryan tried to put Biden on the defensive over Libya, but it didn’t work.
BIDEN: I will be very specific. Number one, the — this lecture on embassy security — the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece. Number two, Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world. And this talk about this — this weakness. I — I don’t understand what my friend’s talking about here. We — this is a president who’s gone out and done everything he has said he was going to do. This is a guy who’s repaired our alliances so the rest of the world follows us again.
On Tuesday Obama will have an opportunity to press this theme. Romney has surrounded himself with Bush era Neocons like John Bolton and Dan Senor, who clearly would like nothing more than to start another war in Iran (and maybe one is Syria as well). I’ll have more to say on that subject on Monday, but for now it is safe to say that Biden got the Democratic Transmedia story back on track.
I’d like to enlist your help in a project we have been creating at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab . We have built an analytics tool to track sentiment around the two candidates using Twitter as the data feed. So we take in every tweet about the candidates and our language-ware reads the tweets and creates a score from 1-100, positive or negative. In the Presidential Debate this Wednesday we will probably be reading and analyzing up to 1000 tweets per second. Ideally our real time sentiment analysis will act like a million person focus group on the debate.This work is similar to the analyses we’ve done over the past 18 months on pop culture events like the Oscars, Summer Blockbusters, Fashion Week trends, and sporting events such as the World Series and Super Bowl.
So here is where we need help. Computers, as you might imagine, are not great at detecting sarcasm. Though advances in software and cognitive computing are helping us make great progress.When we first started this project I remember a tweet, “I’m so happy Michelle Bachmann has thrown her tin foil hat in the ring”. The computer thought that was a positive sentiment towards Bachmann, until a human student corrected it. We have built a human annotation page into the dashboard where you can correct any tweet you think has been mis-scored. From the main page of the site, click “Go to Tweets/annotation page”. There you will see a sampling of the latest tweets and their score. Click on any given tweet and you will be taken to an annotation page where you can manually correct the computer. Obviously the more people who do this, the better the outcome.
One last note. Obviously as you read some of the most negative tweets you will be appalled at what passes for political dialogue in the age of Twitter. We surmise that because many people tweet anonymously, they feel free to speak in the most hateful language. As you will see, most people tweet against a candidate rather than for a candidate. It says something about the psychology of Twitter, but I’m not sure just what it means for an digital democracy.
We’re learning quite a bit through this project and others about how analytics technologies can be applied to Big Data to understand and predict trends. Thanks in advance for your help.