Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Exit Polls 2012, Ohio Exit Polling should give clues to the Romney v Obama 2012 Race

The US Presidential Election is here (as well as the US Senate, House, and thousands of local races) and we all would like to know the outcomes ... before the final tally.    Based on the best statistical analysis of polling through last week, Obama is the very likely winner of the presidential race.   Why?    Partly because Obama is winning in virtually all of the 'toss up" states where in some cases a small lead will translate into a very disproportionate number of votes.   Ohio, the key battleground, is leaning Obama and would give him 18 electoral votes. For Romney to pull off a victory he'll really need to "beat the odds" and win almost all the toss up states.    Obama, on the other hand, could lose more of the toss ups and still win the election.  

Based on Nate Silver's excellent statistical analysis from the New York Times, where he gives Obama a 91% chance of victory based on poll information, President Picker is predicting an Obama win today even before we see any exit poll information.    

What would have to happen for Romney to win?    Romney's hope is that the polls in battleground states have been biased in favor of Obama.   This seems unlikely but it is possible.   Conservatives may have been less likely to participate in the polls, methods may have included those who don't wind up voting, etc, etc.   However, contrary to many claims US polls, exit and otherwise, tend to be very accurate and a good predictor of election outcomes.   In 2000 for example, the exit polls stated that Gore won florida because ... he *would have won* Florida if the ballots in Palm Beach County had reflected voter intention.  These "butterfly ballots" led to confusion and many lost votes for Gore  (due to "overvoting" where people voted for both Gore and Buchanon for President and therefore the vote was NOT counted).    Exit polling was blamed in Florida when the real defect was the butterfly ballot of Palm Beach County   (designed and reviewed by Democrats, so unlikely to have been a conspiracy play to undercount Gore votes).

Today we'll be watching the toss up states - RealClearPolitics will have good coverage linked below.    Ohio is the key.   If Obama takes Ohio it's pretty much over.   However, if Romney takes Ohio it is likely to be a very long night, withe the prospect of another 2000 style election recount fiasco.

Toss Up (146)
CO (9)FL (29)
IA (6)MI (16)
NV (6)NH (4)
NC (15)OH (18)
PA (20)VA (13)
WI (10)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Presidential Election 2012: As Ohio Goes so Goes the Nation

As the Presidential race tightens and Hurricane Sandy whips the country into a frenzy only one week before the election, it's becoming very clear that the key state this year will be .... OHIO.     Both parties will pour many more millions into Ohio advertising over the coming week, but clearly the outcome will remain uncertain until election day.    Obama is currently showing a slight lead based on polling averages at RealClearPolitics.com, but some polls such as Rasmussen show Romney now leading  (though Rasmussen does tend to skew Republican).  

Without Ohio no Republican has won the white house, and it's unlikely that Romney could be the exception to this rule.   If Ohio goes Obama then Mitt Romney would have to win *every other battleground state* to win, and that outcome is very unlikely.

In fact current polling generally shows Obama winning the election by electoral votes while *losing* the popular vote.    This is a rare occurrence but as you recall it happened in 2000 when GW Bush beat Al Gore by electoral votes while losing the national popular vote by about 500,000.

Turnout will also be a critical factor.  Incredibly, it's entirely possible that a bright sunny Nov 6 in Ohio will give the election to Obama while a rainy cold day will push it to Mitt Romney.    

Monday, October 22, 2012

Presidential Debate 2012. Third 3rd Debate Transcript. Obama Romney Debate

[source - ABC News]
[*] SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate of the 2012 campaign, brought to you by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
This one's on foreign policy. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News. The questions are mine, and I have not shared them with the candidates or their aides.
SCHIEFFER: The audience has taken a vow of silence -- no applause, no reaction of any kind, except right now when we welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Gentlemen, your campaigns have agreed to certain rules and they are simple. They've asked me to divide the evening into segments. I'll pose a question at the beginning of each segment. You will each have two minutes to respond and then we will have a general discussion until we move to the next segment.
VIDEO:  New ABC Washington Post poll shows President Obama with a narrow lead.
Final Presidential Debate 2012: Romney Camp Prepares for DebateWatch Video
Final Presidential Debate 2012: What Do the Candidates Need to Do? Watch Video
Obama: Romney Proposes 'Wrong and Reckless Policies' Watch Video
Tonight's debate, as both of you know, comes on the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, perhaps the closest we've ever come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.
So let's begin.
SCHIEFFER: The first segment is the challenge of a changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism. I'm going to put this into two segments so you'll have two topic questions within this one segment on the subject. The first question, and it concerns Libya. The controversy over what happened there continues. Four Americans are dead, including an American ambassador. Questions remain. What happened? What caused it? Was it spontaneous? Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy failure? Was there an attempt to mislead people about what really happened?
Governor Romney, you said this was an example of an American policy in the Middle East that is unraveling before our very eyes.
SCHIEFFER: I'd like to hear each of you give your thoughts on that.
Governor Romney, you won the toss. You go first.
ROMNEY: Thank you, Bob. And thank you for agreeing to moderate this debate this evening. Thank you to Lynn University for welcoming us here. And Mr. President, it's good to be with you again. We were together at a humorous event a little earlier, and it's nice to maybe funny this time, not on purpose. We'll see what happens.
This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world, and to America in particular, which is to see a -- a complete change in the -- the structure and the -- the environment in the Middle East.
With the Arab Spring, came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation, and opportunity for greater participation on the part of women in public life, and in economic life in the Middle East. But instead, we've seen in nation after nation, a number of disturbing events. Of course we see in Syria, 30,000 civilians having been killed by the military there. We see in -- in Libya, an attack apparently by, I think we know now, by terrorists of some kind against -- against our people there, four people dead....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Citizens United Supreme Court Case

CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N ( No. 08-205 ) Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. Syllabus SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES CITIZENS UNITED v . FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N ( No. 08-205 ) Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.

 See the Judges individual Opinions in Citizens United HERE 

 Appeal from the united states district court for the district of columbia No. 08–205. Argued March 24, 2009—Reargued September 9, 2009––Decided January 21, 2010

As amended by §203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), federal law prohibits corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate. 2 U. S. C. §441b. An electioneering communication is “any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication” that “refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office” and is made within 30 days of a primary election, §434(f)(3)(A), and that is “publicly distributed,” 11 CFR §100.29(a)(2), which in “the case of a candidate for nomination for President … means” that the communication “[c]an be received by 50,000 or more persons in a State where a primary election … is being held within 30 days,” §100.29(b)(3)(ii). Corporations and unions may establish a political action committee (PAC) for express advocacy or electioneering communications purposes. 2 U. S. C. §441b(b)(2). InMcConnell v. Federal Election Comm’n 540 U. S. 93 , this Court upheld limits on electioneering communications in a facial challenge, relying on the holding inAustin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce 494 U. S. 652 , that political speech may be banned based on the speaker’s corporate identity.
          In January 2008, appellant Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, released a documentary (hereinafter Hillary ) critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton, a candidate for her party’s Presidential nomination. Anticipating that it would make Hillary available on cable television through video-on-demand within 30 days of primary elections, Citizens United produced television ads to run on broadcast and cable television. Concerned about possible civil and criminal penalties for violating §441b, it sought declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that (1) §441b is unconstitutional as applied to Hillary; and (2) BCRA’s disclaimer, disclosure, and reporting requirements, BCRA §§201 and 311, were unconstitutional as applied to Hillary and the ads. The District Court denied Citizens United a preliminary injunction and granted appellee Federal Election Commission (FEC) summary judgment.
     1. Because the question whether §441b applies to Hillary cannot be resolved on other, narrower grounds without chilling political speech, this Court must consider the continuing effect of the speech suppression upheld in Austin . Pp. 5–20.
          (a) Citizen United’s narrower arguments—that Hillary is not an “electioneering communication” covered by §441b because it is not “publicly distributed” under 11 CFR §100.29(a)(2); that §441b may not be applied to Hillaryunder Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. 551 U. S. 449(WRTL), which found §441b unconstitutional as applied to speech that was not “express advocacy or its functional equivalent,” id., at 481 (opinion of R oberts, C. J.), determining that a communication “is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if [it] is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate,” id. , at 469–470; that §441b should be invalidated as applied to movies shown through video-on-demand because this delivery system has a lower risk of distorting the political process than do television ads; and that there should be an exception to §441b’s ban for nonprofit corporate political speech funded overwhelming by individuals—are not sustainable under a fair reading of the statute. Pp. 5–12.
          (b) Thus, this case cannot be resolved on a narrower ground without chilling political speech, speech that is central to the First Amendment ’s meaning and purpose. Citizens United did not waive this challenge to Austinwhen it stipulated to dismissing the facial challenge below, since (1) even if such a challenge could be waived, this Court may reconsider Austin and §441b’s facial validity here because the District Court “passed upon” the issue, Lebronv. National Railroad Passenger Corporation 513 U. S. 374 ; (2) throughout the litigation, Citizens United has asserted a claim that the FEC has violated its right to free speech; and (3) the parties cannot enter into a stipulation that prevents the Court from considering remedies necessary to resolve a claim that has been preserved. Because Citizen United’s narrower arguments are not sustainable, this Court must, in an exercise of its judicial responsibility, consider §441b’s facial validity. Any other course would prolong the substantial, nationwide chilling effect caused by §441b’s corporate expenditure ban. This conclusion is further supported by the following: (1) the uncertainty caused by the Government’s litigating position; (2) substantial time would be required to clarify §441b’s application on the points raised by the Government’s position in order to avoid any chilling effect caused by an improper interpretation; and (3) because speech itself is of primary importance to the integrity of the election process, any speech arguably within the reach of rules created for regulating political speech is chilled. The regulatory scheme at issue may not be a prior restraint in the strict sense. However, given its complexity and the deference courts show to administrative determinations, a speaker wishing to avoid criminal liability threats and the heavy costs of defending against FEC enforcement must ask a governmental agency for prior permission to speak. The restrictions thus function as the equivalent of a prior restraint, giving the FEC power analogous to the type of government practices that the First Amendmentwas drawn to prohibit. The ongoing chill on speech makes it necessary to invoke the earlier precedents that a statute that chills speech can and must be invalidated where its facial invalidity has been demonstrated. Pp. 12–20.
     2.  Austin is overruled, and thus provides no basis for allowing the Government to limit corporate independent expenditures. Hence, §441b’s restrictions on such expenditures are invalid and cannot be applied to Hillary.Given this conclusion, the part of McConnell that upheld BCRA §203’s extension of §441b’s restrictions on independent corporate expenditures is also overruled. Pp. 20–51.
          (a) Although the First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” §441b’s prohibition on corporate independent expenditures is an outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions. It is a ban notwithstanding the fact that a PAC created by a corporation can still speak, for a PAC is a separate association from the corporation. Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people—political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence. Laws burdening such speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.” WRTL, 551 U. S., at 464. This language provides a sufficient framework for protecting the interests in this case. Premised on mistrust of governmental power, the First Amendment stands against attempts to disfavor certain subjects or viewpoints or to distinguish among different speakers, which may be a means to control content. The Government may also commit a constitutional wrong when by law it identifies certain preferred speakers. There is no basis for the proposition that, in the political speech context, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers. Both history and logic lead to this conclusion. Pp. 20–25.
          (b) The Court has recognized that the First Amendment applies to corporations, e.g., First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti 435 U. S. 765 , and extended this protection to the context of political speech, see, e.g., NAACP v.Button 371 U. S. 415 . Addressing challenges to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, the Buckley Court upheld limits on direct contributions to candidates, 18 U. S. C. §608(b), recognizing a governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption. 424 U. S., at 25–26. However, the Court invalidated §608(e)’s expenditure ban, which applied to individuals, corporations, and unions, because it “fail[ed] to serve any substantial governmental interest in stemming the reality or appearance of corruption in the electoral process,” id. , at 47–48. While Buckley did not consider a separate ban on corporate and union independent expenditures found in §610, had that provision been challenged in Buckley ’s wake, it could not have been squared with the precedent’s reasoning and analysis. The Buckley Court did not invoke the overbreadth doctrine to suggest that §608(e)’s expenditure ban would have been constitutional had it applied to corporations and unions but not individuals. Notwithstanding this precedent, Congress soon recodified §610’s corporate and union expenditure ban at 2 U. S. C. §441b, the provision at issue. Less than two years after Buckley, Bellotti reaffirmed the First Amendmentprinciple that the Government lacks the power to restrict political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity. 435 U.S., at 784–785. Thus the law stood until Austin upheld a corporate independent expenditure restriction, bypassingBuckley and Bellotti by recognizing a new governmental interest in preventing “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of [corporate] wealth … that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” 494 U. S., at 660. Pp. 25–32.
          (c) This Court is confronted with conflicting lines of precedent: a pre-Austin line forbidding speech restrictions based on the speaker’s corporate identity and a post- Austin line permitting them. Neither Austin ’s antidistortion rationale nor the Government’s other justifications support §441b’s restrictions. Pp. 32–47.
               (1) The First Amendment prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for engaging in political speech, but Austin’s antidistortion rationale would permit the Government to ban political speech because the speaker is an association with a corporate form. Political speech is “indispensable to decisionmaking in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation.” Bellotti, supra, at 777 (footnote omitted). This protection is inconsistent with Austin ’s rationale, which is meant to prevent corporations from obtaining “ ‘an unfair advantage in the political marketplace’ ” by using “ ‘resources amassed in the economic marketplace.’ ” 494 U. S., at 659. First Amendment protections do not depend on the speaker’s “financial ability to engage in public discussion.” Buckley ,supra, at 49. These conclusions were reaffirmed when the Court invalidated a BCRA provision that increased the cap on contributions to one candidate if the opponent made certain expenditures from personal funds. Davis v. Federal Election Comm’n , 554 U. S. ___, ___. Distinguishing wealthy individuals from corporations based on the latter’s special advantages of, e.g., limited liability, does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting speech. It is irrelevant for First Amendment purposes that corporate funds may “have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” Austin, supra, at 660. All speakers, including individuals and the media, use money amassed from the economic marketplace to fund their speech, and the First Amendment protects the resulting speech. Under the antidistortion rationale, Congress could also ban political speech of media corporations. Although currently exempt from §441b, they accumulate wealth with the help of their corporate form, may have aggregations of wealth, and may express views “hav[ing] little or no correlation to the public’s support” for those views. Differential treatment of media corporations and other corporations cannot be squared with the First Amendment , and there is no support for the view that the Amendment’s original meaning would permit suppressing media corporations’ political speech.Austin interferes with the “open marketplace” of ideas protected by the First Amendment . New York State Bd. of Elections v. Lopez Torres 552 U. S. 196 . Its censorship is vast in its reach, suppressing the speech of both for-profit and nonprofit, both small and large, corporations. Pp. 32–40.
               (2) This reasoning also shows the invalidity of the Government’s other arguments. It reasons that corporate political speech can be banned to prevent corruption or its appearance. The Buckley Court found this rationale “sufficiently important” to allow contribution limits but refused to extend that reasoning to expenditure limits, 424 U.S., at 25, and the Court does not do so here. While a single Bellotti footnote purported to leave the question open, 435 U. S., at 788, n. 26, this Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy. Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co. , 556 U. S. ___, distinguished. Pp. 40–45.
               (3) The Government’s asserted interest in protecting shareholders from being compelled to fund corporate speech, like the antidistortion rationale, would allow the Government to ban political speech even of media corporations. The statute is underinclusive; it only protects a dissenting shareholder’s interests in certain media for 30 or 60 days before an election when such interests would be implicated in any media at any time. It is also overinclusive because it covers all corporations, including those with one shareholder. P. 46.
                    (4) Because §441b is not limited to corporations or associations created in foreign countries or funded predominately by foreign shareholders, it would be overbroad even if the Court were to recognize a compelling governmental interest in limiting foreign influence over the Nation’s political process. Pp. 46–47.
          (d) The relevant factors in deciding whether to adhere to stare decisis,beyond workability—the precedent’s antiquity, the reliance interests at stake, and whether the decision was well reasoned—counsel in favor of abandoningAustin, which itself contravened the precedents of Buckley and Bellotti. As already explained, Austin was not well reasoned. It is also undermined by experience since its announcement. Political speech is so ingrained in this country’s culture that speakers find ways around campaign finance laws. Rapid changes in technology—and the creative dynamic inherent in the concept of free expression—counsel against upholding a law that restricts political speech in certain media or by certain speakers. In addition, no serious reliance issues are at stake. Thus, due consideration leads to the conclusion that Austin should be overruled. The Court returns to the principle established in Buckley andBellotti that the Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations. Pp. 47–50.
     3. BCRA §§201 and 311 are valid as applied to the ads for Hillary and to the movie itself. Pp. 50–57.
          (a) Disclaimer and disclosure requirements may burden the ability to speak, but they “impose no ceiling on campaign-related activities,” Buckley , 424 U. S., at 64, or “ ‘ “prevent anyone from speaking,” ’ ” McConnell supra , at 201. The Buckley Court explained that disclosure can be justified by a governmental interest in providing “the electorate with information” about election-related spending sources. The McConnell Court applied this interest in rejecting facial challenges to §§201 and 311. 540 U. S., at 196. However, the Court acknowledged that as-applied challenges would be available if a group could show a “ ‘reasonable probability’ ” that disclosing its contributors’ names would “ ‘subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either Government officials or private parties.’ ” Id., at 198. Pp. 50–52.
          (b) The disclaimer and disclosure requirements are valid as applied to Citizens United’s ads. They fall within BCRA’s “electioneering communication” definition: They referred to then-Senator Clinton by name shortly before a primary and contained pejorative references to her candidacy. Section 311 disclaimers provide information to the electorate, McConnell, supra, at 196, and “insure that the voters are fully informed” about who is speaking, Buckley ,supra , at 76. At the very least, they avoid confusion by making clear that the ads are not funded by a candidate or political party. Citizens United’s arguments that §311 is underinclusive because it requires disclaimers for broadcast advertisements but not for print or Internet advertising and that §311 decreases the quantity and effectiveness of the group’s speech were rejected in McConnell. This Court also rejects their contention that §201’s disclosure requirements must be confined to speech that is the functional equivalent of express advocacy under WRTL’ s test for restrictions on independent expenditures, 551 U. S., at 469–476 (opinion of R oberts , C.J.). Disclosure is the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations. Such requirements have been upheld in Buckley and McConnell. Citizens United’s argument that no informational interest justifies applying §201 to its ads is similar to the argument this Court rejected with regard to disclaimers. Citizens United finally claims that disclosure requirements can chill donations by exposing donors to retaliation, but offers no evidence that its members face the type of threats, harassment, or reprisals that might make §201 unconstitutional as applied. Pp. 52–55.
          (c) For these same reasons, this Court affirms the application of the §§201 and 311 disclaimer and disclosure requirements to Hillary . Pp. 55–56.
Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.
     Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., andScalia and Alito, JJ., joined, in which Thomas, J., joined as to all but Part IV, and in which Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined as to Part IV. Roberts, C. J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Alito, J., joined. Scalia, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Alito, J., joined, and in which Thomas, J., joined in part. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Ginsburg, Breyer , and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Thomas, J.,filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Electoral Map - 2012 Obama vs Romney

Real Clear Politics is our favorite campaign watching website, and you'll see there that the race has become amazingly close, with current electoral college totals about as narrow as you can get: Obama / Biden: 277 Romney / Ryan: 261 Shades of the Bush v Gore Election 2000 fiasco? Probably NOT likely since that race hinged on a remarkably close state race in Florida as well as close electoral totals, but it's certainly possible that we'll see the same problems come up - or perhaps other flukes in our fluky system. Arguably the electoral college itself is a mistake, and we were disappointed that it was not abolished after the problems in 2000 where Al Gore won the popular vote only to lose the election due in main part to a poorly designed ballot in Palm Beach County, Florida (designed by Democrats, but a ballot that led to thousands of undervotes that almost certainly would have tipped the election in Gore's favor). Contrary to what many believe the Supreme Court decision to stop the recount did NOT change the outcome. The Bush v. Gore case, even if won by Gore, would still have led to a Bush victory since the counties where the vote count was challenged would not have changed the outcome using the most likely recount scenarios. Given the remaining weeks in the election, another debate looming, and hundreds of millions yet to be spent on advertising in battleground states it's no longer reasonable to assume Obama will coast to victory as many election watchers have suggested for many months. Romney's excellent performances in the debates have combined with massive outspending on the Romney side from the super pacs. The Political Action Committees have been fueled with millions per day thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to allow massive corporate contributions. Assuming a close election goes in Romney's favor it's almost impossible not to conclude that the decision in "Citizens United" changed the outcome given that spending will be much greater on the Romney side of the equation. If Obama wins it'll be fair to suggest that some observers exaggerated the role of this type of spending on elections. However in any case it's clear that money talks, and talks big, in American Politics. Only the naive can believe that our democracy remains in anything like a pristine ideal form where informed voters listen, learn, and participate in a transparent and open process resulting in the election of candidates that truly represent the will and consent of the governed. On the contrary we've got more of a marketing commercialized democracy where candidates are chosen as much by their ability to market themselves as for their ideological views, competence, or other virtues. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/2012_elections_electoral_college_map.html

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 Presidential Debate Video from New York Times - Obama vs Romney via PBS

The Second Presidential Debate - really more of a Town Hall Meeting - between President Obama and Mitt Romney:    Video from Youtube via New York Times

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vice Presidential Debate Transcript

OCTOBER 11, 2012
MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR [*] RADDATZ: Good evening, and welcome to the first and only vice presidential debate of 2012, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. I'm Martha Raddatz of ABC News, and I am honored to moderate this debate between two men who have dedicated much of their lives to public service.
Tonight's debate is divided between domestic and foreign policy issues. And I'm going to move back and forth between foreign and domestic, since that is what a vice president or president would have to do. We will have nine different segments. At the beginning of each segment, I will ask both candidates a question, and they will each have two minutes to answer. Then I will encourage a discussion between the candidates with follow-up questions.
By coin toss, it has been determined that Vice President Biden will be first to answer the opening question. We have a wonderful audience here at Centre College tonight. You will no doubt hear their enthusiasm at the end of the debate -- and right now, as we welcome Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.
OK, you got your little wave to the families in. It's great. Good evening, gentlemen. It really is an honor to be here with both of you.
I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there.
RADDATZ: it was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: What is was, it was a tragedy, Martha. It -- Chris Stevens was one of our best. We lost three other brave Americans.
RYAN: When you take a look at what has happened just in the last few weeks, they sent the U.N. ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a YouTube video. It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack.
He went to the U.N. and in his speech at the U.N. he said six times -- he talked about the YouTube video.
Look, if we're hit by terrorists we're going to call it for what it is, a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn't we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an Al Qaida cell with arms?
This is becoming more troubling by the day. They first blamed the YouTube video. Now they're trying to blame the Romney-Ryan ticket for making this an issue.
With respect to Iraq, we had the same position before the withdrawal, which was we agreed with the Obama administration. Let's have a status of forces agreement to make sure that we secure our gains. The vice president was put in charge of those negotiations by President Obama and they failed to get the agreement. We don't have a status of forces agreement because they failed to get one. That's what we are talking about.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Obama Romney 2012 Presidential Debate Schedule

Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Michael D. McCurry, co-chairmen of the non-partisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), today announced formats for the presidential and vice presidential debates that feature extended discussion of major issues to be announced in advance.
The formats for the 90-minute debates are as follows:

First presidential debate (October 3, 2012, University of Denver, Denver, CO)
The debate will focus on domestic policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by the moderator and announced several weeks before the debate.
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the topic.
Vice presidential debate (October 11, 2012, Centre College, Danville, KY)
The debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics and be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the question.
Second presidential debate (October 16, 2012, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY)
The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.
Third presidential debate (October 22, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL)
The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate and will focus on foreign policy.

All debates will be moderated by a single individual and will take place from 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. There will be no opening statements and two-minute closing statements in all the debates. In all the debates except town meeting, the CPD recommends that the candidates be seated at a table with the moderator. Moderators will be selected and announced in August.
In addition, the CPD is undertaking an innovative internet-based voter education program that will encourage citizens to become familiar with the issues to be discussed in the debates, and to share their input with the debate moderators in advance of the debates. The program, which will be announced later this month, will be led by a coalition of internet leaders.
Fahrenkopf and McCurry said that the formats reflect extensive study by the CPD board of directors: "There are serious issues facing this country and the public has the right to expect a serious examination of those issues during this fall's debates. The CPD believes this can be accomplished best by focusing big time blocks on major domestic and foreign topics. The topics will be selected and announced in advance of the debates by the debate moderators.
"The debates are the most widely-watched political programs of any kind. These format changes are designed to promote substantive dialogue before, during and between the debates about the major issues of the day. They will permit citizens and candidates to come prepared for a series of voter education forums that inform and engage the public.
"Coupled with the internet program, the debates will serve as the foundation for a season of conversation this fall. Technology offers the means to provide and receive information - the CPD is committed to using this tool creatively and effectively to bring as many people as possible into the conversation."
The CPD has sponsored and produced all the presidential and vice presidential debates since 1987, the year it was established. More information can be found at www.debates.org.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Convention Bounce for Obama puts him back in the lead

Although some media outlets are still reporting a "dead heat", it's pretty clear that Obama is enjoying a post-convention bounce and probably remains a few points ahead of Romney.   If the election were held today, Obama would be the very likely winner both in terms of total vote and, more importantly, the electoral vote.

2012 Electoral votes may come into play again, though at this time it appears Obama's likely to take both the popular and the electoral vote, the latter by a larger margin.

Many of us have our fingers crossed that we will not again see a fiasco like the Gore v Bush election.   Gore won the popular vote in that election by about 500,000 votes nationally, but lost in the electoral college when all of Florida's electoral votes went to GW Bush after a series of court challenges that wound up in the Supreme Court.    Many fail to note that the exit polls from that election were *very* accurate in suggesting that Gore "won" the election, but in addition to other less important errors, the ballots in Palm Beach county was so confusing that people who thought they voted for Gore wound up as "overvotes" and were discarded - most because they had a vote for both Gore and for Pat Buchanon.    

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Bill Clinton Speech at Democratic Convention 2012

Bill Clinton Speech at Democratic Convention 2012

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Michelle Obama Speech - transcript from 2012 Democratic National Convention

Tonight's speech by Michelle Obama showed that it's not only the president with exception oratorical skill.  Smooth and powerful, Michelle Obama articulated the vision for America she feels her husband brings to the table, and roused fellow Democratics at the Convention.  Here is the transcript:
Michelle Obama speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention:
Thank you so much, Elaine…we are so grateful for your family’s service and sacrifice…and we will always have your back.
Over the past few years as First Lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country.
And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.
I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.
I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.
I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire…driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.
And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”
Every day, the people I meet inspire me…every day, they make me proud…every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.
Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege…but back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we’d begun.
While I believed deeply in my husband’s vision for this country…and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President…like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance.
How would we keep them grounded under the glare of the national spotlight?
How would they feel being uprooted from their school, their friends, and the only home they’d ever known?
Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys…Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house…and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.
And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls…I deeply loved the man I had built that life with…and I didn’t want that to change if he became President.
I loved Barack just the way he was.
You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate…to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door…he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.
But when Barack started telling me about his family – that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.
You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.
My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young.
And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain…I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed.
But every morning, I watched my father wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform.
And when he returned home after a long day’s work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs to our little apartment, patiently waiting to greet him…watching as he reached down to lift one leg, and then the other, to slowly climb his way into our arms.
But despite these challenges, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work…he and my mom were determined to give me and my brother the kind of education they could only dream of.
And when my brother and I finally made it to college, nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants.
But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition himself.
And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill right on time, even taking out loans when he fell short.
He was so proud to be sending his kids to college…and he made sure we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late.
You see, for my dad, that’s what it meant to be a man.
Like so many of us, that was the measure of his success in life – being able to earn a decent living that allowed him to support his family.
And as I got to know Barack, I realized that even though he’d grown up all the way across the country, he’d been brought up just like me.
Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help.
Barack’s grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank…and she moved quickly up the ranks…but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling.
And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by.
But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at work before anyone else…giving her best without complaint or regret.
And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all that really matters.”
Like so many American families, our families weren’t asking for much.
They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success or care that others had much more than they did...in fact, they admired it.
They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.
That’s how they raised us…that’s what we learned from their example.
We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.
We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.
Those are the values Barack and I – and so many of you – are trying to pass on to our own children.
That’s who we are.
And standing before you four years ago, I knew that I didn’t want any of that to change if Barack became President.
Well, today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are.
You see, I’ve gotten to see up close and personal what being president really looks like.
And I’ve seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk are always the hard ones – the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer…the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.
And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people.
But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.
So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother.
He’s thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day’s work.
That’s why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work.
That’s why he cut taxes for working families and small businesses and fought to get the auto industry back on its feet.
That’s how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again – jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.
When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president.
He didn’t care whether it was the easy thing to do politically – that’s not how he was raised – he cared that it was the right thing to do.
He did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine…our kids should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick…and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.
And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care…that’s what my husband stands for.
When it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never could’ve attended college without financial aid.
And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage.
We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.
That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.
So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t political – they’re personal.
Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles.
He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids.
Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it…and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.
And he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity…you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.
So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.
He’s the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work…because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.
He’s the same man who, when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.
That’s the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night, patiently answering their questions about issues in the news, and strategizing about middle school friendships.
That’s the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him.
The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills…from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care…from the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities.
I see the concern in his eyes...and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, “You won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle…it’s not right. We’ve got to keep working to fix this. We’ve got so much more to do.”
I see how those stories – our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams – I see how that’s what drives Barack Obama every single day.
And I didn’t think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago…even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met.
I love that he’s never forgotten how he started.
I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he’s going to do, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard.
I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them” – he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above…he knows that we all love our country…and he’s always ready to listen to good ideas…he’s always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.
And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we’re all sweating it – when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass, and it seems like all is lost – Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise.
Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward…with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace.
And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here…and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.
But eventually we get there, we always do.
We get there because of folks like my Dad…folks like Barack’s grandmother…men and women who said to themselves, “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will…maybe my grandchildren will.”
So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love…because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.
So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming – or even impossible – let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation…it’s who we are as Americans…it’s how this country was built.
And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us…if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button…then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.
And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights…then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights…surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.
Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country – the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.
That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, and so many other American stories possible.
And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady…and not just as a wife.
You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still “mom-in-chief.”
My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.
But today, I have none of those worries from four years ago about whether Barack and I were doing what’s best for our girls.
Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters…if we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise…if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility – that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it…then we must work like never before…and we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward…my husband, our President, President Barack Obama.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.