Archive for October, 2012

Round 2: Live thread for second Obama-Romney debate

UPDATE at 10:28 p.m.: Predicted sound-bite highlights of the night: Romney’s devastating rundown of the failed economic recovery the past four years, Obama’s comment that it’s “offensive” for Romney to suggest he and his administration weren’t forthright about Benghazi attacks. The former was the best, most sustained argument of the night from either man. The latter, a perfect way for Obama sympathizers to say “the president is back!” We’ll see which one — or something else — resonated the most with voters.


UPDATE at 9:54 p.m.: One story line tomorrow will be the way Romney dinged George W. Bush for his budget deficits. And, also in his answer to the way he differs from Bush, says his party “has been focused on big business for too long” and should be more focused on small business. That answer flies in the face of one of Obama’s main lines of attack tonight.


UPDATE at 9:36 p.m.: Obama says, “It’s just not true.” Romney says, “It’s absolutely true.” The topic doesn’t …

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2012 Tuesday: What, exactly, can Obama do to win tonight?

By now, everyone acknowledges the first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney altered the course of this election.

On the day of the debate, Obama led Romney by 3.1 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of national opinion polls. Romney took his first lead against Obama six days later and has been no worse than tied for the past week; the two are in a statistical tie at the moment. More important, Romney has closed the gap or taken the lead in the crucial swing states and even put formerly Obama-leaning states Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania back in play. Today, for the first time, Romney even leads Obama in the RCP average of favorable/unfavorable polls: On average, the former Massachusetts governor is seen favorably by almost 50 percent of voters and has a net favorability rating of +5.4 percentage points — both figures are the highest of the entire presidential campaign for him — while Obama is at 51 percent and +5 percentage points. In four …

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To boldly go how no man has gone before

Sometimes, amid the smallness and caution that our politics often is, it’s worth stepping back in amazement at something big and daring that a fellow human being has done. From the New York Times’ write-up of one of the more incredible things anyone has done in a long, long time:

ROSWELL, N.M. — A man fell to Earth from more than 24 miles high Sunday, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier under his own power — with some help from gravity.

The man, Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian daredevil, made the highest and fastest jump in history after ascending by a helium balloon to an altitude of 128,100 feet. As millions around the world experienced the vertiginous view from his capsule’s camera, which showed a round blue world surrounded by the black of space, he stepped off into the void and plummeted for more than four minutes, reaching a maximum speed measured at 833.9 miles per hour, or Mach 1.24.

He broke altitude and speed records set half a century ago by Joe …

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An early message to the Class of 2013

Dear Class of 2013:

Next spring, much ink will be spilled with advice for you: to work hard, but not too hard; to laugh but also to cry; to love; and, perhaps most practically, to wear sunscreen.

I am not jumping the gun in writing to you now. If anything, I worry I’m too late.

In fact, if you are in the collegiate Class of 2013, I am too late. This message is for high school seniors. And that message is: Don’t wind up like Katie Brotherton.

Brotherton is a young woman from Cincinnati who last month wrote in her local newspaper that she’s overly indebted and rather hopeless, because she made bad decisions about her education.

OK, she didn’t write that last part. In her telling, she met “societal expectations” by earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. But now she owes nearly $190,000, lives in her parents’ basement and “want[s] answers.”

She has a point, sort of. When she was in your place seven years ago, there might not have been anyone warning her …

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What matters today and tomorrow from yesterday’s debate

A few more thoughts from last night’s debate between Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan before we move on:

1. This was a trial run for the second presidential debate, especially in light of President Obama’s comment this week that he was “too polite” the first time around. I don’t think Obama will follow Biden’s lead exactly — in fact, I assume part of the strategy was for Biden to be so over the top with his laughs, smirks and interruptions that Obama can be fairly rude toward Mitt Romney next week but look gentlemanly by comparison. If nothing else, the media’s panning of Biden’s demeanor will surely dissuade Obama from going too far in that direction.

2. That said, Obama almost certainly will pick up where Biden left off — and from his own recent stump speeches — in branding Romney as dishonest. I noted this last night, but a clear part of Biden’s plan was to call Ryan’s credibility into question with labels such as “malarkey” and “incredible.” The laughs were surely …

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VP debate live thread: Biden vs. Ryan

FINAL UPDATE: As predicted, this debate won’t end up mattering very much. Each base will be pleased with its candidate and bewildered anyone could think much of the other guy, but I can’t imagine undecideds picking Obama or Romney based on tonight.


UPDATE at 9:50: The story of this debate so far is Biden’s rude and erratic behavior — interrupting Ryan repeatedly and weirdly laughing throughout Ryan’s remarks. As I said before, the obvious strategy is to portray Ryan, and by extension Romney, as untrustworthy. But there’s enough in his own remarks — his claim that no Democrats support Medicare premium support, for example — that should be howled down by the fact checkers that it isn’t going to work.

It will be interesting to see how well Ryan’s barrage of data and statistics goes over. Biden has stuck with one or two figures per answer; even though they’ve often been wrong, out of date, or misleading, the simplicity might work better. We shall see.


UPDATE at 9:20: Biden …

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How tort reform could increase access to justice for patients

Limiting damages in medical malpractice cases — what most people think of as “tort reform” — could become a hot topic again if Georgia legislators finally try to reimpose the caps thrown out by the state Supreme Court in 2010. Reformers, of course, say the threat of multimillion-dollar lawsuits prompts doctors to practice defensive medicine, needlessly costing our health-care system billions.

Critics say the caps effectively reduce access to the justice system by making malpractice cases less attractive to plaintiffs’ attorneys. But judicial access could hardly be lower than it is under the current system.

That’s the upshot of a new study by an Emory University law professor, who suggests another feature of today’s jackpot justice — the high cost of pursuing a malpractice case — already prevents most people injured through medical negligence from having their day in court.

“The vast majority of attorneys reject the majority of cases they screen,” says Joanna …

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Charter amendment foes twist conservative language to make their case

One of the more surprising things to happen during the debate about the charter-schools amendment is the way some conservatives are buying the arguments advanced by the very same educational establishment they tend to distrust.

Granted, these arguments often sound appealing because they’ve been phrased cleverly in the parlance of the right. So, according to amendment opponents, we stand to get bigger government by taking away local control and handing it to unaccountable bureaucrats via a redundant state agency.

If all that were so, I’d be hard-pressed to support the amendment myself. But the above claim touches reality only in the minds, or at least mouths, of self-interested status quoists who are being more than a bit economical with the truth.

The crux of this claim is the State Charter Schools Commission that would be re-established if the amendment passes, having been declared unconstitutional in a misguided 2011 Georgia Supreme Court ruling.

Here, if you can follow …

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Yes, Georgia, there is a Plan B for transportation

I told you there would be a Plan B.

During the run-up to this summer’s T-SPLOST debacle — er, referendum — supporters of the $7.2 billion transportation tax implored voters to approve the measure, lest we remain mired in ever-worsening gridlock without end. In their telling, there was no Plan B.

They were technically correct: There was no alternative then sitting on the shelf. But such a pressing problem was never going to be ignored if Plan A failed.

Sure enough, a Plan B — or, more accurately, the first candidate for Plan B — was unveiled recently. It has much to recommend it.

The plan comes from the free-market thinkers at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, and it includes $3.5 billion in new projects across the state. Here are some highlights:

  • The list includes completing the Fall Line Freeway from Columbus to Macon to Augusta, and enhancing U.S. 27 in the western part of the state, to create a new freight network. This, according to a previous study by McKinsey and …

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Revelations from Benghazi are damning for Obama

This election’s “October surprise” may turn out to be the truth about something that happened in September.

Remember the rush by the Obama administration to blame the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on a reaction to a movie trailer offensive to Muslims? Well, like everything else in the Obama administration, that story had an expiration date. Here’s ABC News’ Jonathan Karl explaining:

For those who can’t/won’t watch the video, here’s the relevant section from Karl, citing a “senior State Department official”:

At the time [of the Benghazi killings], as you recall, we were told it was a protest that went bad and became an attack. Now we are told there was no protest going on outside that embassy. The first indication that they heard anything outside the walls of the … consulate compound was an explosion from gunfire.

Read that again: “There was no protest going on outside that embassy.” It’s not that the protest isn’t what led to the murders of …

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