The 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner–Full Video And Best Lines

Above is the video of Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Full transcript is here and excerpts follow:

I admit it — last year was rough.  Sheesh.  At one point things got so bad, the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize.

Of course, we rolled out healthcare.gov.  That could have gone better.  In 2008 my slogan was, “Yes We Can.”  In 2013 my slogan was, “Control-Alt-Delete.”  On the plus side, they did turn the launch of healthcare.gov into one of the year’s biggest movies.  (Slide of “Frozen”)

But rather than dwell on the past, I would like to pivot to this dinner.  Let’s welcome our headliner this evening, Joel McHale.  On “Community,” Joel plays a preening, self-obsessed narcissist.  So this dinner must be a real change of pace for you.

I want to thank the White House Correspondents Association for hosting us here tonight.  I am happy to be here, even though I am a little jet-lagged from my trip to Malaysia.  The lengths we have to go to get CNN coverage these days.  I think they’re still searching for their table.

MSNBC is here.  They’re a little overwhelmed.  They’ve never seen an audience this big before.

Just last month, a wonderful story — an American won the Boston Marathon for first time in 30 years. Which was inspiring and only fair, since a Kenyan has been president for the last six.

We have some other athletes here tonight, including Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Jamie Anderson is here.  We’re proud of her.  Incredibly talented young lady.  Michelle and I watched the Olympics — we cannot believe what these folks do — death-defying feats — haven’t seen somebody pull a “180” that fast since Rand Paul disinvited that Nevada rancher from this dinner. As a general rule, things don’t like end well if the sentence starts, “Let me tell you something I know about the negro.”  You don’t really need to hear the rest of it. Just a tip for you — don’t start your sentence that way.

And speaking of conservative heroes, the Koch brothers bought a table here tonight.  But as usual, they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front.  Hello, Fox News.

Let’s face it, Fox, you’ll miss me when I’m gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.

Of course, now that it’s 2014, Washington is obsessed on the midterms.  Folks are saying that with my sagging poll numbers, my fellow Democrats don’t really want me campaigning with them.  And I don’t think that’s true — although I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker at career day, and she invited Bill Clinton.a, Bill Clinton, Bill O’Reilly, Captain America, Chris Christie, Community, Donald Trump, Facebook, Fox, George Bush, Health Care Reform, Hillary Clinton, House of Cards, Jeb Bush,

And I’m feeling sorry — believe it or not — for the Speaker of the House, as well.  These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means orange really is the new black.

Look, I know, Washington seems more dysfunctional than ever.  Gridlock has gotten so bad in this town you have to wonder:  What did we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad?

One issue, for example, we haven’t been able to agree on is unemployment insurance.  Republicans continue to refuse to extend it.  And you know what, I am beginning to think they’ve got a point.  If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.

Of course, there is one thing that keeps Republicans busy.  They have tried more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare.  Despite that, 8 million people signed up for health care in the first open enrollment. Which does lead one to ask, how well does Obamacare have to work before you don’t want to repeal it?  What if everybody’s cholesterol drops to 120?  What if your yearly checkup came with tickets to a Clippers game? Not the old, Donald Sterling Clippers — the new Oprah Clippers.  Would that be good enough?  What if they gave Mitch McConnell a pulse?  What is it going to take?

Joel McHale, star of Community and The Soup, did an excellent job. #sixtimesashostandamovie. He has followed a long line of top comedians who have roasted politicians and the media and previous events. The all time best speakers was Stephen Colbert who roasted George Bush in 2006. The full transcript of his speech can be found here.

Following are some of Joel McHale’s best jokes, with video above and full transcript here.

Good evening, Mr. President — or as Paul Ryan refers to you, yet another inner-city minority relying on the federal government to feed and house your family.

I’m a big fan of President Obama. I think he’s one of the all- time great presidents — definitely in the top 50. Please explain that to Jessica Simpson. You’re right. That was low.

All right, how about the president’s performance tonight, everyone?  It is — it’s amazing that you can still bring it with fresh, hilarious material. And my favorite bit of yours was when you said you’d close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. That was a classic. That was hilarious, hilarious. Still going.

All right, look, I know it’s been a long night, but I promise that tonight will be both amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie’s presidential bid.

It’s a genuine thrill to be here in Washington, D.C., the city that started the whole crack-smoking-mayor craze.

The vice president isn’t here tonight, not for security reasons. He just thought this event was being held at the Dulles Airport Applebee’s. Yes, right now Joe is elbow-deep in jalapeno poppers and talking to a construction cone he thinks is John Boehner. Also true.

Hillary Clinton has a lot going for her as a candidate. She has experience. She’s a natural leader. And, as our first female president, we could pay her 30 percent less. That’s the savings this country could use.

Hillary’s daughter Chelsea is pregnant, which means in nine months we will officially have a sequel to “Bad Grandpa.” It also raises the question, when the baby is born, do you give Bill Clinton a cigar?

Jeb Bush says he’s thinking about running. Wow, another Bush might be in the White House. Is it already time for our every-10- years surprise party for Iraq? Yes.

As it stands right now, the Republican presidential nominee will either be Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, or a bag of flour with Ronald Reagan’s face drawn on it.  A bag of flour. All right.

People are asking, will Donald Trump run again? And the answer is, does that thing on his head crap in the woods?  I actually don’t know. I don’t know.I don’t know if that thing on his head has a digestive system.

Governor, do you want bridge jokes or size jokes? Because I’ve got a bunch of both. I could go half and half. I know you like a combo platter.  Now, I get that. I’m sorry for that joke, Governor Christie. I didn’t know I was going to tell it, but I take full responsibility for it. Whoever wrote it will be fired. But the buck stops here. So I will be a man and own up to it, just as soon as I get to the bottom of how it happened, because I was unaware it happened until just now.

I’m appointing a blue-ribbon commission of me to investigate the joke I just told. And if I find any wrongdoing on my part, I assure you I will be dealt with. I just looked into it. It turns out I’m not responsible for it. Justice has been served. He’s going to kill me.

Mr. President, you’re no stranger to criticism. Ted Nugent called you a subhuman mongrel. And it’s comments like that which really make me question whether we can take the guy who wrote “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” seriously anymore.

Your approval rating has slipped. And even worse, you only got two stars on Yelp.

Mitch McConnell said his number one priority was to get the president out of office. So, Mitch, congrats on being just two years away from realizing your goal. You did it — kind of.

But thanks to “Obamacare,” or, as the president refers to it, “Mecare,” millions of newly insured young Americans can visit a doctor’s office and see what a print magazine actually looks like. That’s awesome.

Now over 8 million people have signed up for “Obamacare,” which sounds impressive until you realize Ashley Tisdale has 12 million Twitter followers. So that’s pretty good.

Sir, I do think you’re making a big mistake with Putin. You have to show a guy like that that you’re just as crazy as he is. He invades Crimea. You invade Cancun.  Russia takes back the Ukraine. America takes back Texas. Something to think about.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, is here. Finally I can put a face to the mysterious voice clearing its throat on the other end of the phone.  It was weird.

And CNN is desperately searching for something they’ve been missing for months — their dignity.  Totally. That was just that table. At this point, CNN is like the Radio Shack in a sad strip mall. You don’t know how it’s stayed in business this long. You don’t know anyone that shops there. And they just fired Piers Morgan.

Fox News is the highest-rated network in cable news.  Yeah. I can’t believe your table  — that far.  And it’s all thanks to their key demographic, the corpses of old people who tuned in to Fox News and haven’t yet been discovered.

Former “Inside Edition” host Bill O’Reilly is not here. He did host that. Bill’s got another book coming out soon, so he’s making his ghost writers work around the clock. Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity are the Mount Rushmore of keeping old people angry.

This event brings together both Washington and Hollywood. The relationship between Washington and Hollywood has been a long and fruitful one. You give us tax credits for film and television production, and in return, we bring much-needed jobs to hard-working American cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Vancouver again.

Hollywood helps America by projecting a heroic image to the rest of the world. We just released another movie about Captain America, or, as he’s known in China, Captain Who Owes Us $1.1 Trillion.

There’s a lot of celebrities here tonight. They’re the ones that don’t look like ghouls. Look around. The cast of “Veep” is here. That’s a series about what would happen if a Seinfeld star actually landed on another good show. I like “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” I swear.

I’m not going to spoil the shocking twist on “House of Cards,” but just know that it was so surprising that Nancy Pelosi’s face almost changed expression. Did you like that one, Nancy? I can’t tell.

Biz Stone, the founder of Twitter, is here. So if any of you congressmen want to cut out the middleman, just show him your penis. Not now! Are you nuts?

And here’s why America is the best country in the world. A guy like me can stand before the president, the press and Patrick Duffy — and tell jokes without severe repercussions. And instead of being shipped off to a gulag, I’m going to the Vanity Fair after-party. That’s right. This is America, where everyone can be a Pussy Riot.

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Robert Gates Memoir Critical Of Obama Administration On Afghanistan (But Was Their Skepticism Towards War Really A Bad Thing?)

Robert Gates is receiving a lot of attention today for his memoir entitled Duty. I suspect that this will have limited long-term impact, but for now it provides a source for lots of quotes both positive and negative about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. We must also take into consideration that the initial report comes from Bob Woodward, who has not been all that reliable in recent years and his selected quotes may or may not be representative of what Gates wrote in the entire memoir. Plus it is not necessarily a bad thing for civilian politicians to show skepticism of military action which might be upsetting to someone with a more military background. Gates is not necessarily correct in his assessment of all matters. For example, Max Fisher writes that Gates was wrong on the most important issue he faced in failing to see the opportunity for peace with the former Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. Gates certainly got in wrong in arguing that Gorbachev was not a reformer.

While the headline of the story reports negative comments from Gates about Barack Obama’s skepticism and lack of interest continuing the war in Afghanistan, Gates also wrote “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.”It is hardly a surprise that Obama had mixed feelings about that war which he inherited.

Comments that Hillary Clinton opposed the surge on political grounds might be politically harmful, especially if  used to support the narrative that Clinton lacks principle and is guided by political expediency (not that considering the views of the public is necessarily a bad thing). On the other hand he also wrote this about Clinton: “I found her smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world.” I can already see this quote in Clinton campaign ads.

Gates was hardest on Joe Biden, complaining about his  “aggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders.” Another account of the book in The New York Times quotes Gates as writing, “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” I think that that with the current anti-war mood of the country, the portrayal of Biden as a major skeptic of the Afghanistan war might wind up doing him far more good than such a broad-based attack.

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The Electoral College And A Proposal To Bypass It

If the current polling results stay stable through the election there is a real possibility that Romney could win the popular vote while Obama wins the electoral college (and therefore reelection). Romney has gained in the popular vote since the first debate but much of his gains are leading to the likelihood that he will win the red states by even greater margins. He has come closer in the battleground states but Obama still leads in most of them.

The electoral map (based upon polling) doesn’t look that much different now than it did before the first debate. The primary difference is that Florida, which has shifted between Romney and Obama, has moved back to Romney. Obama trailed Romney in North Carolina and it appeared he might take the lead. Instead of moving ahead as it appeared he might do, he is now tied there. Virginia now looks too close to call with Obama still having a strong chance to win the state.  Obama has maintained leads in key swing states such as Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa and Wisconsin. Romney is closer in these states, and leads in some polls, but at the moment Obama retains the edge even if the electoral vote will be closer than it appeared to be after the conventions. Of course this lead is far from secure, making it essential that those who support individual liberty, a market economy which provides opportunity for all to succeed financially, science, preservation of Medicare and Social Security, and reality-based public policy get out to vote to reelect Barack Obama. Current polls show a majority of registered voters support Obama, while Romney leads among likely voters.

There are strong arguments to eliminate the electoral college and have the winner of the popular vote win the presidency. Besides being inherently more democratic, it would mean that each party would have reason to try to appeal to voters in every state to increase their share of the popular vote. Perhaps Obama would be doing better in the popular vote nationally if he  had reason to run up the margin of victory more in the blue states and pick up some votes in the red states where he now has no reason to campaign. A Democratic Congressman has proposed an amendment which would make it unlikely that a candidate would win the election without winning the popular vote. Steve Israel would award 29 electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote. This would be comparable to having another Florida or New York, and be worth one electoral vote more than North Carolina and Virgina combined.

This proposal would have given Gore the presidency in 2000, making up for the Republicans stealing Florida, if everything else was equal. It  possible that Obama could win more than 29 electoral votes than Romney and lose the popular vote if his leads hold in the battleground states. It is more likely that if Romney wins the popular vote he will also pick up some of the battleground states where it is now close.

Having an arbitrary number of electoral votes be awarded, regardless of the margin of victory in the popular vote, is a very convoluted way around the problems presented by the electoral college. Why twenty-nine? The electoral college has its problems, but at least there is a sensible way of choosing the number of electors based upon the number awarded to each state, which is roughly proportional to each state’s population. There are conservatives who support the electoral college based upon the concept of each state being a separate entity in the United States. If the goal is to eliminate the electoral college and go to direct election of the president based upon the popular vote, propose an amendment to do exactly that as opposed to such a strange way around the current system and have a debate as how we want elections to be structured.  (At the same time we might consider whether we want to continue the manner in which the Senate gives greater representation to those living in small states as opposed to large states.)

The electoral college this year might even lead to a stranger result than having the loser of the popular vote fail to win the presidency (as this has happened before). It is unlikely but possible that there could be a tie in the electoral college. The House would then pick the president, with the vote based upon the numbers of state delegations controlled as opposed to a vote by each member of the newly elected House. The Senate would pick the Vice-President. The newly elected House could elect Romney president while the Senate, assuming Democrats retain control, could reelect Joe Biden as Vice President. An even more bizarre result would be if the House was deadlocked because of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans in some state delegations and unable to elect a President. In that case, Joe Biden, if reelected Vice President, would become President. An election thrown to the House might very well lead to more support for moving to popular election of the president.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who (Three Videos); Revolution; Fringe; Merlin

I managed to make it through one installment of SciFi Weekend last week without Doctor Who, but I still miss the show. Therefore I am featuring three videos about  Doctor Who this week. The first shows what happened to Amy and Rory after the events of  The Angels Take Manhattan from the perspective of Rory’s father. The video shows an unshot scene about  Brian receiving a letter and visitor one week after Amy and Rory went to Manhattan on their last trip in the TARDIS.

The start of Community and Inspector Spacetime  have been postponed this season, but in its place Sesame Street does Doctor Who. The use of a Dalek as a threat came before Mitt Romney’s attack on Big Bird.

Is Doctor Who a Religion?

Matt Smith commented on how the dynamic will change with the new companion:

“I was thinking about it the other day and Rory used to take care of Amy quite a lot, so the Doctor became a weird old grandfather.

“He was ostracised in some way. So it is nice having a different dynamic.

“That is what is exciting about the show, you kind of get a first episode again. I think all these stories come to the end of their cycle.

“The Ponds had a wonderful time.”

Eric Kripke, show runner of Revolution, discussed when we will find out what caused the blackout:

Kripke said that the show’s writers are still discussing how early to reveal why the lights went out, but there’s a distinct possibility we’ll know before the first season ends. The creator’s philosophy on revealing answers and wrapping up storylines before moving onto a bigger one is not unlike his approach to his other show, Supernatural. “For me the longer you drag out an answer, the more pressure there is that that answer is the greatest answer ever given in the history of man,” he said. “I would prefer we answer questions quickly and then ask more questions. Answer a question and then open a door to a whole other bigger room.” As for what will be in that bigger room, Kripke promised that the truth about the cause of the blackout “leads directly to a bigger and scarier mystery.”

Fringe took off on its scavenger hunt based upon Walter’s tapes (which increasingly are reminding me of the DHARMA Initiative tapes from Lost). Within this framework The Recordist presented an intriguing story which reminded me of  Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. People living away from civilization were working to preserve information on human civilization for the day after the Observers are forced out, concerned that otherwise the victors would have rewritten history. I did wish that it turned out to be their information as opposed to rocks from the mine (not mime) which were important to the plan to stop the Observers. This also provided more information on life under Observer rule, showing that either the Observers are uninterested in or unable to control all of humanity. My suspicion is that they are unconcerned about humans living away from the cities as long as they don’t pose a threat. Their numbers must be limited if they sent Loyalists to go after the fugitives from the Fringe Division as opposed to going themselves.

Person of Interest was not on this week. It was preempted by a show featuring a smart old man trying to teach some basic facts about the economy, health care, foreign affairs, and separation of church and state to a young guy who was not all that well informed.

Merlin has completed a two-part season opening story, Arthur’s Bane. I will avoid any significant spoilers, primarily limiting comments to aspects of the story which were apparent early in the first episode, or which have already been revealed on line. The story takes place three years after the end of the last season. It was the start of a Golden Age for Camelot but now there are problems with men disappearing in the north. (Did they go beyond the wall?) Arthur, Merlin, and Knights of the Round Table go to investigate while at home Gwen is excising true power as Queen in Arthur’s absence. Morgana and Mordred, along with a new being and a dragon, are all involved in the story. The ending, and how Mordred was dealt with, came as quite a surprise.

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Vice Presidential Debate Impressions

Joe Biden accomplished the goals I discussed in my pre-debate post. He accomplished the goal of debunking the arguments from Romney/Ryan and, perhaps more importantly, turned around the enthusiasm gap since last week’s debate.

There were far too many highlights from Biden for me to list in a quick post-event post such as this. Instead I’ll summarize the debate by recapping my Facebook and Twitter comments from during the debate (which could not keep up with everything);

Joe Biden has already done more to stand up to Romney/Ryan lies than Obama did during the entire first debate.

If people think Dick Cheney out-debated John Edwards, this VP debate is even more one-sided.

This debate looks like a guy with years of experience explaining things to an ignorant kid who has no idea what he is talking about.

Smart statesman versus ignorant warmonger.

“I may be mistaken, he changes his mind so often” –Joe Biden referring to Mitt Romney’s position.

Yes Joe, feel free to interrupt when Lyin’ Ryan whenever necessary.

Remember when there was talk of replacing Biden with Hillary Clinton? At the moment I am so happy Obama stuck with Joe.

“Just get out of the way.” –Joe Biden

I’ve never respected Bill Clinton more than on the day of his convention speech, and have never respected Joe Biden more than tonight.

Now the Medicare lie from Ryan.

Tie Ryan to Sarah Palin and death panels. Good move.

Facts vs. Bullshit.

Joe looks and sounds like a president. Ryan looks and sounds like a mutant combination of Richard Nixon and Eddie Munster.

If I was playing a drinking game in which I had a drink every time Joe called out a Ryan lie I’d be unconscious by now.

“Not mathematically possible…It has never been done before…Now you’re Jack Kennedy.”

I can’t keep up with all of Joe’s great points tonight on Facebook and Twitter. (Sadly I didn’t have that problem last week.)

Joe keeps repeating himself–which is exactly what he should be doing to make his point clear to viewers.

Good, another question in which Joe should be able to repeat how Obama got bin Laden. (And he did)

Debating a skilled liar who floods a debate with lie after lie is very difficult. Biden is showing how it is done. (Pay attention Barack)

Why is Eddie Munster so down on America?

“We will leave in 2014.”

I can’t wait to see how Fox spins this as a win for Ryan.

Is everyone having more fun tonight than last Wednesday? Let’s have more fun like this next week.

Less than a half hour to go. I wish this would never end–something I generally never say during a debate (except the first Kerry-Bush debate in 2004)

I bet Ryan wishes he knew actual facts like Joe does.

Biden–I refuse to impose my religion on others, unlike my friend here, the Congressman.

To Ryan freedom of religion means the freedom of the religious right to impose their views on others #abortion #americantaliban

What, no questions about Big Bird?

My favorite tweet of the night:
Oh well that’s perfectly clear now. #PaulRyan is anti-abortion because he once saw a bean. — Cynthia Boaz @cynthiaboaz

Ryan keeps whining about all the attacks upon his ticket (ignoring how dirty Romney’s campaign has been)

The ghost of Ayn Rand just joined Ryan up on the stage. She is very upset about the way he wants to impose his religious views on others and wants to continue the war in Iraq.

Before the debate I thought Biden would greatly beat the expectations most had of him. He then managed to greatly exceed those expectations.

There’s talk that Biden seemed like he was on stimulants. If so, give whatever he took to Obama before the next two debates.

I never took talk of Biden being the candidate in 2016 very seriously, until tonight.

After last week’s debate my dogs were terrified for their future. They feel much better tonight.

Later I’ll have to go thru the full transcript. There were a lot of lines worth fully quoting. Enthusiasm is up among Democrats. After this year, we will probably never hear again that the debates don’t matter.

 

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Looking Back At Obama’s Debate And Forward At Biden’s

There have been many attempts to analyze Barack Obama after the first presidential debate. I believe Joe Klein has a fairly accurate description. First he debunked any arguments as to Obama’s ability to speak on the issues:

The President is no dummy; he’s as well versed in the nuances of policy as Bill Clinton, if decidedly less compelling. Watch him in any press conference. Go back and look at his question-and-answer session with House Republicans after the 2010 election. He knows his stuff. But there haven’t been many press conferences–or town meetings, for that matter. His kinder debate critics said he was rusty, which is true, but there’s more to it than that. Obama chooses to be rusty. This is also strange: he’s warm and informal in person. He enjoys a good policy discussion–and I mean discussion, in which he actually responds to things you say or ask rather than speechifying. In my experience, though, he hates small talk, especially flattery, and that gets us closer to the heart of his current troubles.

Klein gave more examples. Even read the transcript of the debate. Obama actually did have the answers to many of Romney’s erroneous statements. The problem is that the delivery was so bad that the message got totally lost. Klein got into why Obama wasn’t into this type of debate:

>When I asked several close Obama associates about the President’s reluctance to sell his policies, they admitted their frustration. They said he hates doing things that he considers transparently political. He hates the idea of inviting a bunch of pols over to the White House for a drink or a movie, because they’d see it as an obvious bribe. He’d have to fake small talk; they’d try to Holbrooke him. He hates press conferences because the gotcha questions are calibrated to generate heat rather than light. He hates the notion of launching precooked zingers in debates. He hates debates, period, with their false air of portent and stage-managed aggression. These are inconvenient prejudices if you want to be re-elected. Such ceremonies are the price of admission if you want to be a politician.

Tonight is Joe Biden’s turn. He might be better suited for this format than Obama is. Biden is far more likely to use simple slogans as opposed to wonkish, professorial explanations which don’t work in this format. “GM is alive and bin Laden is dead.”That is not Obama’s style, but that is what is needed in this type of debate.

Hopefully after the first debate, Biden could get in a few simple points. Debunk the distortion that Obama is cutting Medicare and point out how the Romney/Ryan plan harms Medicare. And yes, that includes many currently on Medicare. Point out how the math is simple when looking at Romney’s tax plan. Either the deficit gets much higher or the middle class pays more in taxes (and probably both). Point out how after Romney claimed his health care plan protects people with pre-existing conditions in the first debate his campaign admitted the following day that the plan did not guarantee such coverage.  Remind women of how Romney would allow the government to interfere in what should be the private decisions of the individual. Plus, for many women the loss of Planned Parenthood is an economic issue as well as a social issue. Remind viewers of how badly Romney messed up when talking with foreign leaders. Bring back the 47 percent and questions as to why Romney won’t release his tax returns.

Should Ryan try to play Romney’s game and deny the positions they have been running on, in addition to pointing this out Biden should also point out how government works. If Romney is president will he really veto extremist policies passed by the Republicans–who have already voted to end Medicare as we know it and increase government intrusion in the lives of individuals? Will Romney appoint Supreme Court justices who support reproductive rights? I doubt it.

Most important of all, a good showing by Biden would get the media to stop repeating the simplistic storyline that Obama lost the debate. The fact remains that, despite a poor presentation, Obama was right on the issues, and the candidate on stage who was most qualified to be president.

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Seniors Boo Romney/Ryan Plan To Repeal Obamacare–Hopefully Realizing How Obama Has Helped Seniors

Paul Ryan’s plan to end Obamacare received boos at the AARP’s annual convention in New Orleans yesterday. Hopefully this is a sign that they realize that Romney and Ryan are lying about how Obamacare affects Medicare (video above). Hopefully seniors won’t be conned into believing  that Romney and Ryan are trying to protect Medicare when their plans would actually destroy the program as we know it.

Joe Biden put this into perspective considering how it was actually Republicans who opposed Medicare going back to the start of the program:

“If you came from another country and you just listened to their convention, you’d say, those guys came up with a great idea 50 years ago,” Biden said at a campaign rally in New Hampshire. “You’d think it was a Republican idea.”

Moving past the dishonest rhetoric from the Romney/Ryan campaign, Obama has strengthened Medicare. He has made it more sound fiscally and has increased benefits for seniors. Benefits include phasing out the donut hole on prescription medications and covering preventative services which were not previously covered–both reducing out of pocket expenses for seniors. The Romney/Ryan plan to replace Medicare with vouchers will increase out of pocket costs. In addition, their plan to radically reduce Medicaid will harm many duel eligible seniors who count on Medicaid to pay for their Medicare premiums and deductibles.

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Libertarians Might Keep Mitt Romney Out Of The White House

Libertarian candidates might create some problems for Mitt Romney. Three Republican electors who support Ron Paul are saying they might not cast their electoral votes for Mitt Romney. If Romney should win by a very narrow margin, this could throw the election to the House. The vote in the House is based upon state delegations and, as GOP support is spread over a larger number of small states, Romney would still win the presidency in such a scenario. However if Democrats retain control of the Senate, they could re-elect Joe Biden as Vice President. If the Paul supporters are mad enough over the way Romney has treated them, perhaps they might even vote for Obama in the electoral collage.

At present it doesn’t look like Romney is likely to wind up close enough to Obama for this to matter. On top of all the problems leading to Romney falling behind Obama in the polls, another Libertarian might make it even difficult for Romney to win in some of the swing states. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who was formerly a Republican, is now on the ballot in 47 states. Currently Johnson is polling at 4 percent nationally, but his support is significantly higher in swing states such as Colorado and Nevada. In a close race, he could take enough votes from Romney to keep him from winning some swing states.

 

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Democratic Convention Day 3: Osama bin Laden is Dead, General Motors Is Alive, and Mitt is a Twitt

It was another strong day for the Democrats, leading up to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. While Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, and ultimately Barack Obama dominated their evenings, there were many other strong speakers throughout the convention. The Democrats’ “second string” did a better job than the major speakers at the Republican convention. There was a wide variety of speakers, but they all showed a fundamental difference between the parties. The Democrats offer a big tent while the Republicans tell you to buy your own umbrella.

The two speakers who I have met in the past each did an excellent job. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, spoke on Obama saving the auto industry:

The entire auto industry, and the lives of over one million hard-working Americans, teetered on the edge of collapse. And with it, the whole manufacturing sector.

We looked everywhere for help. Almost nobody had the guts to help us – not the banks, not the private investors, and not Bain Capital. Then, in 2009, the cavalry arrived: our new President, Barack Obama! He organized a rescue, made the tough calls, and saved the American auto industry. Mitt Romney saw the same crisis and you know what he said: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

Sure, Mitt Romney loves our lakes and trees. He loves our cars so much, they have their own elevator. But the people who design, build, and sell those cars? Well, in Romney’s world, the cars get the elevator – the workers get the shaft. Mitt Romney says his business experience qualifies him to be President. Sure, he’s made lots of money. Good for him. But how did he make that fortune, and at whose expense? Too often, he made it at the expense of middle-class Americans.Year after year, it was profit before people.

President Obama?

With the auto rescue, he saved more than one million middle-class jobs all across America.

John Kerry had a strong speech on foreign policy, turning around the classic Ronald Reagan line: “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was four years ago.” Full video of Kerry’s speech is above.

Joe Biden  returned to the line he has used many times: Osama bin Laden is Dead and General Motors is Alive.  Biden was brilliant to tie in Romney’s position on the auto industry to the Bain way:

When I look back now on the President’s decision, I also think of another son of an automobile man–Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit.  His father ran American Motors.  Yet he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt.  It’s not that he’s a bad guy. I’m sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did.  I just don’t think he understood—I just don’t think he understood what saving the automobile industry meant-to all of America.  I think he saw it the Bain way. Balance sheets. Write-offs.

Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profit. But it’s not the way to lead your country from its highest office.

When things hung in the balance, the President understood it was about a lot more than the automobile industry.  It was about restoring America’s pride.   He knew what it would mean to leave 1 million people without hope or work if we didn’t act. He knew the message it would have sent to the rest of the world if the United States of America gave up on the industry that helped put America on the map. Conviction.  Resolve.

He was similarly hard on Romney’s mistaken view on bin Laden as he described Obama’s strength:

We sat for days in the Situation Room.  He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough questions. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said– “Sir, we can get this done,” I knew at that moment Barack had made his decision.  His response was decisive. He said do it.  And justice was done.

But Governor Romney didn’t see things that way.  When he was asked about bin Laden in 2007, he said, and I quote, “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth, and spending billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person.”

He was wrong. If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the President did. And you too would have moved heaven and earth–to hunt down bin Laden, and bring him to justice.

Biden summed up the different visions offered by the two parties: “A future where we promote the private sector, not the privileged sector.” So much for more  bogus Republican framing.  As he demolished Romney’s poor decisions, perhaps BIden should extend his line to “Osama bin Laden is Dead, General Motors Is Alive, and Mitt is a Twitt.”

Finally the man smart enough to marry Michelle Obama (as Clinton called him yesterday) came on.  It was a terrible moment for Mitt Romney. There was no empty chair. Barack Obama showed how successful he can be by campaigning on his record, demolishing a common Republican bromide. First he summarized the differences between the parties and had the best line of the evening:

Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right. They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years:

“Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.”

“Deficit too high? Try another.”

“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”

Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it – middle-class families and small businesses. But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores, or pay down our deficit. I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all that we’ve been through, I don’t believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker keep his home. We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back. We’re moving forward.

Obama countered the Republican false framing that Democrats are the party of big government. Instead he explained that Democrats are the party which understands that there is a role for government:
We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.
In contrast, Obama pointed out that Republicans are the party of big government intruding in the private lives of individuals, warning about “Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves.” He promised to prevent Medicare from turning into a voucher program, to protect seniors, and to protect the middle class:

I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled – all so those with the most can pay less.

And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care – not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it – not by turning it over to Wall Street.

This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s just the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and “borrow money from your parents.”

Republicans avoided talk about Afghanistan and supporting veterans. Obama joined other speakers in warning of the dangers of making someone as inexperienced and uninformed as Mitt Romney become Commander-in-Chief:

So now we face a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.

After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. My opponent said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq, and he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan. I have, and I will. And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want, I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work – rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home.

This election is far more about the economy than foreign policy, but will Americans elect a president who is so clearly over his head on issues of national security?
It will be interesting to see what effect this convention has on the polls. I’m not sure that there are many voters left who haven’t made up their minds to provide the types of convention bounces we have seen in the past. Romney received little to no bounce after his convention. The Democrats put on a far better convention and we will soon have an answer as to whether any convention can provide a big bounce. Gallup has shown Obama with a one point lead through the entire Republican convention and into today. As they use a seven day average it will take a few more days to see whether their is a bounce. Reuters is receiving a lot of attention in the conservative blogs for saying there has been no bounce for Obama, but this was after only one night, before the speeches by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
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Obama Ad and Joe Biden Hit Romney On Outsourcing

The Obama campaign is taking advantage of the recent story in The Washington Post which called Bain Capital under Mitt Romney a pioneer in outs0urcing jobs. Here is the text of the above ad. I especially like the last line:

“Day One. President Romney stands up to China.”

But would he?

The Washington Post has just revealed that Romney’s companies were pioneers in shipping US jobs overseas.

Investing in firms that ‘specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China.’

Romney’s never stood up to China. All he’s ever done is send them our jobs.

Joe Biden repeated this message in Iowa: “You got to give Romney credit,” Biden said. “He’s a job creator – in Singapore, China, India. He’s been very good at creating jobs, overseas.” Video above. More on Biden’s criticism of Romney:

Biden also used Romney’s own words against him.

Citing recent speeches in the Ohio cities of Cincinnati and Toledo, Biden said: “He said his experience as a businessman is what gives him a great understanding of what it takes to bring jobs back to the United States of America. That’s his premise.”

Biden continued: “[Romney] said, that outsourcers have, quote, ‘Been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs.’ He went on to say if he were president, he was going to end that outsourcing. That’s what he tells you.”

“There’s a huge disconnect between what he says, and what he means, and what he’s done.”

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