Will the Latino Vote Be the Real October Surprise?

Only one of these two will raise his right hand in January.

Are you ready?

I know I am.  Ready for this to be over.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.   This country’s presidential campaigns go on too long without really focusing on issues ordinary Americans care about.   This campaign has been so long and so nasty,  I just want to sit down with a Jack and Coke next Tuesday and watch it all play out to the finish.

Anyone that tells you they know what’s going to happen next week is talking out the side of their neck.  They can’t even tell you with any degree of certainty what the effect of Hurricane Sandy on the election will be.  Does it help the president to be the incumbent where he can deploy all the resources of the government to aid the millions of Americans whose lives have been disrupted by the superstorm?   Even though Romney can do little more than pose at photo ops, he doesn’t have the burden Obama does of ensuring the federal response is fast and effective.

Will how the president responds to the hurricane really change an undecided voter into one for or against him?  I don’t see it.  What the American people expect from their leaders in a time of crisis is to show leadership.   Obama will do fine as far as that goes.  Whether it has any measurable effect on the election won’t be known until after it is over.

The race is essentially tied.  Which means what exactly?  In a nation of 300 million half favor the incumbent and half the challenger?   Polls are not necessarily accurate predictors of the future.  Especially if they’re the wrong polls of the wrong voters.

I have my own theory what will be one of the key stories of the 2012 election.  It’s the Latino vote.   Obama is doing well with Latinos and in certain states their support could be the difference between a second term and a Romney presidency.    Some of Obama’s critics have grumbled that he has devoted an inordinate amount of effort to court Latinos, but doing so may be key to any path to victory.

The latest impreMedia-Latino Decisions tracking poll shows that Latinos are more enthusiastic and more likely to vote than ten weeks ago when the initial poll was fielded.  Forty-five percent of Latino voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting in 2012 compared to 2008.  That number is up from 37% from ten weeks ago when the initial impreMedia-Latino Decisions tracking poll was fielded.  Furthermore, 87% of Latino voters say they are almost certain they will vote on November 6th, which includes 8% of Latino voters have already voted.  In 2008, 84% of Latino registered voters cast a ballot according to Census statistics.

Overall, Obama has the support of 73% of all Latino registered voters, compared to 21% who favor Romney.  The 52-point gap matches the largest gap among Latinos this year, also found in the October 1 tracking poll.

Latinos won’t win Ohio for Obama, but in states like Colorado and Nevada, they could provide a firewall for the president if he should lose a key state like Virginia or North Carolina.   The White media hasn’t been paying much attention to this story because the only stories about Latinos they do pay any attention to is immigration.

Writing in Mother Jones Adam Serwer  notes how Latinos could be the real October surprise.

Even if Romney wins Virginia and North Carolina, Barack Obama only needs 33 of the remaining 82 swing state electoral votes to win, while Romney needs 51. The race is so close that a shift of a few points among Latinos in states with large Latino voter populations like Colorado, Nevada, and Florida could determine who gets those crucial remaining electoral votes.   Latino Decisions’ polling has Obama poised to win more than 70 percent of the Latino vote (other surveys show similar numbers), but in several public polls of swing states, Barreto says, the Latino sample sizes are so small or so unrepresentative that they’re likely overestimating how many Latinos are going to vote Romney. After helping save the Democrats’ Senate majority in 2010, Latino voters may just rescue Obama’s presidency in 2012.

The media is making a mistake and one I certainly hope the Obama campaign isn’t repeating.  We’ll know in a week.

A Long Weekend in the Land of Cheesesteaks (and Hurricanes)

Welcome to Philly. Enjoy the hurricane.

PHILADELPHIA-After a summer full of home improvements,  getting kids into college and just getting through, work, life and bills, the missus and I busted out of the battleground state of O-H-I-O for a long weekend in the City of Brotherly Love and Cheesesteaks.

I must like Philly.  I’ve probably been here a dozen times, but this was the first time I’ve done some of the usual tourist things.  We visited the Philadelphia Art Museum, ate a few times at the Reading Market Terminal and tonight we’re going out for dinner at a jazz club.

The only bad thing so far is our timing.  We picked the same weekend Hurricane Sandy is supposed to hit Philly.    Whether it will still be a bona fide hurricane or downgraded to a tropical storm who can say with complete certainty?    I suppose we could hang around to find out, but that’s an experience we’ll just save for another day.

Traveling from the hotly contested state of Ohio through Pennsylvania coal country is an experience that makes you raise an eyebrow.  I don’t know what President Obama’s policies on coal usage have been, but they aren’t popular in this part of the state.   There were plenty of anti-Obama signs and billboards dotting the landscape.    The expectation must be Mitt Romney would be more accomodating to the coal industry.  The polls give Obama has a six-point lead over his Republican challenger but that Romney has shaved two points off of the president’s lead with nine days to go.

Yeah, I know I said I wasn’t going to immerse myself in the madness of the polls in the remaining weeks, but I sort of got called out.  When you tell people you’re from Ohio, they talk to you as if you’re the only thing between them and three little words they don’t want to utter: “President Mitt Romney.”

Before we entered the Philadelphia Art Museum, we spent nearly an hour talking with a nice woman in a faded Obama “Hope” pullover who spotted my own “Obama/Biden” button and started smiling and talking with us excitedly.   We agreed the election will be close and turnout will be key to the president’s hope for a second term.    We also expressed mild disbelief anyone could still be decided this late in the game.   It’s nice to run into a kindred spirit who is every bit as apprehensive of  what Romney and Ryan would do to this country over the next four years.

Taking in all the city has to offer would take far time than we have.   A ticket to the Philadelphia Art Museum is good for two days and includes a shuttle to three other galleries.  You could spend the entire trip immersed in art if that’s all you wanted to do.   You aren’t exactly lacking for choices in cuisine either.

Unfortunately, there’s a minor matter of Hurricane Sandy barreling down the Eastern seaboard, so we’ve got to get back on the road and out of town before it gets here.  No time for cheesesteaks this time.


Crawford, Sample and Vaughn: Collaborations and Breakthroughs

Randy and Joe have forged a musical marriage that works.

Randy Crawford &  Joe Sample: Live

It’s a slight exaggeration to say keyboardist Joe Sample rescued Randy Crawford from pop music limbo, but it’s not too far from the truth. Crawford is among the most distinct vocalists working, but her discography is riddled with over-arranged and over-produced disappointments. One of her finest moments remains when The Crusaders dropped all 11 minutes of “Street Life” on radio airwaves in 1979, featuring Crawford belting it out.

Some 27 years would pass Sample and Crawford before they reunited to record Feelin’ Good (PRA, 2006), where the pianist wisely chucked the synthesizers, strings and overproduced pop tunes that Crawford’s sensual vocals had to fight through over a decade’s worth of middling albums and stripped the sound down to a bare (but not sparse) combination of piano, bass, drums and Crawford’s  sweetly sensual vocals.

The back-to-basics/less-is-more approach served Crawford well on Feelin’ Good, and a second album, No Regrets (PRA, 2008) continued the collaboration. It was wise for Crawford to give up her pop/R&B stylings to pursue a more distinctive direction as a seriously soulful jazz singer, and Live pulls together some of the finest moments from a 2008 European tour. Steve Gadd handled the drumming duties on the two studio albums and returns here, as Nicklas Sample replaces Christian McBride on acoustic bass.

Live albums of a concert you didn’t attend are a bit like looking at a friend’s vacation photos of somewhere you haven’t been, but everything that sounded good in the studio loses nothing on stage. From the opener “Every Day I Have the Blues” to the closer “Last Night at Danceland,” Crawford and company deliver the goods over an economical 49 minutes. There isn’t a dull moment on Live, but Crawford does herself proud on the Billie Holiday-written “Tell Me More and More and Then Some,” with Sample killing ’em softly as he solos. “This Bitter Earth,” “Me, Myself and I” and “No Regrets” are presented skilfully, playfully and brilliantly, with Gadd and Nicklas Sample providing solid support throughout.

Sample and Crawford have recently finished a tour in South Africa, but whether they plan to record again remains to be seen. If they don’t, then Live serves as an outstanding document of a glorious alliance.

Track Listing: Every Day I Have the Blues; Feeling Good; Tell Me More and More and Then Some; Rainy Night in Georgia; This Bitter Earth; Me, Myself and I; No Regrets; One Day I’ll Fly Away: Almaz; Street Life; Last Night at Danceland

Personnel: Randy Crawford; vocals; Joe Sample: piano; Steve Gadd: drums; Nicklas Sample: bass

Mr. Vaughn is a sharp dressed man.

Julian Vaughn: Breakthrough

Within the first 30 seconds of the stomping “On Your Feet,” the lead-off track on Breakthrough, it’s hard not to think, “Darned if this guy doesn’t sound just like Wayman Tisdale.” Hopefully Julian Vaughn will take the comparison as a compliment because his “lead bass” playing style is eerily reminiscent of Tisdale, who passed away in 2009.

The publicity notes for Vaughn’s third album say he “doesn’t try to be any other bassist than who he is.” That’s nice to say but as one of the producers is Darren Rahn, who collaborated with Tisdale, it isn’t a stretch to suggest that Vaughn, a Kansas City native, wasn’t ever so slightly influenced by Tisdale. Additionally, at a towering 6′ 7″ Vaughn is only an inch shorter than the former NBA power forward.

Breakthrough is calculated to make a splash on the charts and airwaves, not break any new ground. There is a cover of the R&B hit, “Rock Steady,” a few vocal tracks that are okay, nothing memorable though, and a lot party tunes that given Vaughn plenty of space to jam and riff for the sake of jamming and riffing. Most of it sounds pretty good even if it’s not terribly memorable.

The breakthrough here is Vaughn’s confidence as a player and how much he dominates the proceedings as the star of the show. The ranks of premier electric bassists in his field has thinned, since Stanley Clarke says he’s retired from the genre, Marcus Miller has one foot in the funk jazz genre, but is hardly wedded to it and Victor Wooten follows a uniquely eclectic muse which leaves the field wide open for Vaughn.

“Potential” is the heaviest word in the world because it means you haven’t done it yet. Vaughn is playing it cautiously and conservatively as he’s trying to leave a positive impression with the audience he’s aiming for and the current position of Breakthrough on the contemporary jazz charts indicates it was a savvy strategy.

Vaughn has demonstrated he has talent. Now he has to take on the next challenge of making himself stand out from the crowd by stepping off the path established by others and blaze his own trail.

Track Listing: On Your Feet; J’s Jammin; Ju Ju’s Groove; The Thought of You; Breakthrough; I’ll Do It; Be My Girl; Rock Steady; No Matter; Right On Time; Always Be Together.

Personnel: Julian Vaughn: lead bass, bass, keyboard bass; Ken Friend: bass; Darren Rahn: tenor sax, Wurlitzer, synthesizers, drum programming, additional guitar; Frank Selman: guitar; Anthony Jones: drums; Joey Woolfork: guitar; Nicholas Cole: piano; Jeremy Nixon; keyboards; Tobbi White-Darks: vocals; Marcus Anderson: saxophone; Anthony Saunders: vocals; Joey Woolfork: guitar; Josh Mayfield: drums; Jimmy Ellison: guitar; Matt Godina: guitar; Kinyon Price: Rhodes & strings; Paula Saunders: vocals

These reviews were originally published at All About Jazz.

Two Weeks To Go (and There’s No Stress)

I have nothing to say about the third and final debate.   I didn’t watch more than 15 minutes of it and only because it was halftime of a pretty boring Lions/Bears football game.   Even if the debate hadn’t been scheduled against Monday Night Football, I wouldn’t have tuned in.   Not because I’m tired of it all (though I am), but because there’s nothing left for me to get out of the debates.

Simply put: I have had enough.  I am numb to all this shit.  Can’t hear it.  Don’t see it.  Can’t process any more of it.   I’m ready for this to be o-v-e-r already and I know I’m not the only one.  Hell, look at Barack Obama.   He’s been forced to undergo the unpleasant experience of losing 4.5 hours of his life trapped on stages in three cities with a lying, unprincipled asshole who treated the President of the United States like he was a servant who hadn’t polished the silverware correctly.    Four years ago when he debated John McCain, it was obvious that no matter how badly Obama wanted to win the election, he wasn’t going to do so by openly disrespecting McCain.

That isn’t a problem for Obama and Romney.   It was well-established the two men don’t like each other even a bit and with the debates finished you get the feeling Obama would happily live the rest of his life if he never spoke to Romney again and is desperately hoping he doesn’t have to pose for a photo where he’s making small talk in the Oval Office with the newly elected president.

With two weeks left to go, if you’re still undecided, I don’t know what it is you’re waiting for to help you make up your mind?  Do you hold up the check-out lane at the grocery store trying to choose between paper and plastic?

I’m not criticizing undecided voters.  I just don’t get how anyone could still be undecided by now.  Even if you’re voting for a third-party candidate,  good for you that you’ve come to a decision.   I’m sure in whatever fantasy world you’re living in President Jill Stein or President Garry Johnson will be better than either of those Romney or Obama losers.

At this point of the race, I don’t need any more debates, I’ve stopped watching commercials, and polls are a source of aggravation, not information.   The pundits can save their prognostication for someone who is still paying attention.   I am not any longer, thank you.   I have already voted.   Everyone in my household has.   If I choose to, on November 6, I can stay in bed late, never get out of my robe and only get up to freshen the many Jack and Cokes I plan upon pounding down that night.

Every day I have to empty my Junk e-mail box twice.   If there’s a Democrat in a high-profile race that isn’t acting as if we’re old buddies on a first name basis, I don’t know who it is.   Give money once or twice to Obama or the Democratic Party and suddenly everybody’s calling, writing and imploring for my $3 bucks here or my $25 bucks there.

Sorry.  My wallet’s closed.  It’s the last days of October and I need to get some work done on my roof before the snow falls on it.  Yes, I really want to see Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren and Claire McCaskill win their races, but are they going to climb up on my roof and fix it if they
don’t and is three dollars really going to help you all that much?

That’s life in a battleground state.  Every Super PAC is carpet-bombing the state with commercials.   You can’t swing a yard sign without hitting a candidate or their surrogates.   If Mitt’s in Cincinnati and Barack’s in Cleveland then Joe has to be in Dayton and Paul is in Columbus and Ann’s in Akron while Michelle is down the street and up the block and Ohmigawd, if I’m tired of this, how exhausted must they be?

This is how I will survive the final days of the election.   Stop reading the polls.  Don’t watch any of the talking heads shows for the next two weeks.  Don’t read anything written by anyone that stresses you out BECAUSE  IT WON’T DO ANY GOOD TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU CANNOT CHANGE (or do I have to quote Reinhold Niebuhr to you?)

Some people whose opinion I seriously respect are seriously stressed out by the closeness of the race.   I can’t be.  I said when Obama won that I couldn’t let the sun rise and set on one man’s fortunes.    I can’t go into “about-to-have-a-stroke” mode this soon.   If I do I’ll be dead before Election Night and how stupid will I feel if I worried myself in an early grave because win or lose, I’ll still have to go back to work the next day.


The Trayvon Martin Case: Throw A Little More Dirt on the Dead

Martin’s past, not Zimmerman’s, is open to scrutiny.

It was a good week to be George Zimmerman.    He found out when his trial begins on June 10, 2012 for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin his attorneys will be allowed to see the slain teenager’s  school records and social media accounts.

Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman and his attorneys, “I think that you’re entitled to those records.”

Really?  Why?  That’s what Benjamin Crump, attorney Martin’s parents, Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin wanted to know at a press conference.

“Why is it relevant about his school records or his Facebook page?” Crump said.  “George Zimmerman knew none of that on Feb. 26 when he claimed Trayvon’s life.”

Crump knows exactly why Mark O’Mara and the defense team want to take a peek at Trayvon’s school records and Facebook and Twitter accounts.  They want to show a pattern of anti-social or violent behavior by Trayvon that would bolster their claim Zimmerman shot him in self-defense.

Judge Debra Nelson: Jurist Number Three for Zimmerman.

Nelson, is the third judge to preside over the Zimmerman case.  The previous judge, Kenneth Lester was removed after complaints from O’Mara that he had displayed bias against his client and a Florida appeals court agreed.   The first judge stepped aside due to a conflict of interest.

Zimmerman said nothing during the hearing, but apparently life in hiding agrees with him.  Court observers were surprised by the 40 pounds or so Zimmerman had packed on while free on bond.

Zimmerman was allowed to roam free for  over 45 days after killing Martin before finally being arrested.  Zimmerman wasn’t tested for drugs or alcohol in his system while he was being questioned by the Sanford police department.  Zimmerman was granted bail, declared he had no money for his  while hiding $135,000 in donations he had collected from a website he set up for his defense.  Zimmerman’s wife was arrested and charged with perjury for lying to the court.  Lester revoked Zimmerman’s bail and sent him back to jail, but rather than let him stay there until his trial, Lester grant him bail a second time.  In return, Zimmerman bitched that the judge was prejudiced against him and had him replaced with a third one.

To hear his defenders tell it, at every point Zimmerman’s rights have been trampled.   Somebody want to tell me how?   The facts say different.

Zimmerman’s attorneys will now be allowed to root around in Martin’s past looking for proof he  had violent tendencies.   Zimmerman is the one with a prior criminal record for resisting arrest and battery of a law enforcement official as well as the subject of a restraining order taken out by his former fiancee.   Though under suspension from high school at the time of his death, Martin had no criminal record.

Who exactly is on trial here?

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Superhero Smackdown Set for 2015?

“Standalone movies? We don’t got to make no stinkin’ standalone movies.”

From the Los Angeles Times, there now exists a strong possibility for not one, but two super hero teams slugging it out for box office supremacy in 2015.

DC Comics’ superheroes can finally team up on the big screen following yesterday’s legal victory for Warner Bros. in its long-running fight over the rights to Superman.

The studio is expected to accelerate development of a planned “Justice League” movie that would join Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and other characters, according to a knowledgeable person not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Warner hopes to shoot the film next year and release it in the summer of 2015. The studio already has a “Justice League” script in the works. Next it needs to attach a director and then cast the lead roles.

Had Warner lost its case against the heirs of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, it would not have been able to make “Justice League” or any other movies, television shows or comics featuring key elements of the Man of Steel’s mythos after 2013 unless it reached a new agreement with the estates of Shuster and co-creator Jerry Siegel.

That uncertainty made it difficult for Warner to move ahead with “Justice League,” which the studio’s motion pictures group president, Jeff Robinov, has long wanted to make as a pillar of its big-screen superhero strategy.

Robinov previously tried unsuccessfully to convince “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan to produce “Justice League.” Nolan is producing next year’s Superman movie “Man of Steel.” Wednesday’s court victory also makes it possible for Warner to make sequels to “Man of Steel” if the picture is successful.

With “Green Lantern” flopping and other movies featuring the Flash and Wonder Woman lingering in development, Warner has lagged behind Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios in profiting from cinematic superheroes. Only Nolan’s blockbuster Batman movie trilogy has succeeded for the Burbank studio.

The studio’s plan is to spin out other superheroes into their own movies following “Justice League.” That’s contrary to Marvel’s successful strategy of teaming up Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Captain America in”Avengers” (which became a global blockbuster) after each character had his own film.

This is welcome news for Justice League fans who have longed to see their heroes finally make the jump from comic books and cartoons to the big screen, but the news comes with some head-scratching details in the story.  Is DC and Warners so confident they can introduce a brand-new Batman, an unproven Henry Cavill as Superman, surround them with a bunch of other actors and knock off something as eagerly anticipated as the second installment of the Avengers ?

Finally off the bench and out of Development Hell?

It is no surprise Nolan is walking away from the millions Warner is offering him.  He’s already one of the best directors working.  He has to want to be nominated for Best Director at some point in his career and it won’t happen making comic book movies. I’m sure Warner will find a good director and a capable cast. I just wonder what the strategy is if Man of Steel tanks or underperforms. Not saying it will. Just saying it could.

Marvel already has sequels in the queue for Thor, Captain America and Iron Man (with the first trailer for Iron Man 3 next Tuesday) and the Guardians of the Galaxy with all four of them priming the pump for the Avengers sequel.   It’s probable not all four will succeed, but it won’t blunt the anticipation for the next Avengers movie.

For DC and Warner there’s no similar margin of error.  If the next Superman relaunch doesn’t fly high at the box office, there’s nothing left to fall back on until Justice League in 2015. That’s why I think the “all or nothing at all” strategy is high reward and high risk. If it works, DC is set up nicely for their own standalone Green Lantern, Flash and Wonder Woman spin-off flicks (sorry Aquaman).

A failure with either or both of their next two films and those future franchises are grounded leaving DC and Warner back in the same dilemma they’ve been in for over a decade; with only Batman and Superman as their go-to comic book movies, and nothing else primed to come off the bench to fill the void between them.

Let’s be honest.  Warners isn’t making a Justice League movie because of its artistic merit.   They’re making it because Disney made a BILLION dollars with Avengers and even if their super hero team movie is only half as good if it only makes half as much that’s a calculated risk worth taking.

Whatever it cost DC and Warner to secure the rights to keep making Superman movies will be money well spent if the Big Blue flies high at the box office.


The Humbling At Hofstra: How Obama Got His Swag Back

Brother Barack smirks while Mr. Mitt steams.

Now that’s more like it.

Fresh off his appearance two weeks ago impersonating Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, the real Barack Obama showed up for the second presidential debate and he came ready.   He had two weapons with him, one seen and the other unseen.   The first was a microphone.   The second was a gym bag full of shoes to break off in Mitt Romney’s ass.

The debate was made up the usual jabs by the candidates at each other, griping to the moderator how they hadn’t had the chance to respond to the question asked five minutes ago and a lot more give-and-take directly between Obama and Romney.   God bless Candy Crowley and her shoulder pads.  She was just the woman for the job of keeping the two men (somewhat) on point and certainly she was better at it than Jim Lehrer was in his hapless performance at the first debate.

It was a very skilful moment.  It’s the kind of moment when everything lines up in perfect political harmony.   Obama should have been put on the defensive by the Libya question.  He had successfully slipped the question, something Romney could have pointed out, but he had to rush to his pre-programmed talking points and pin the president’s ears back.   Or so he thought.

 PRESIDENT OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president. And I’m always responsible. And that’s why nobody is more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I did (sic).

The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror. And I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime. And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president. That’s not what I do as commander in chief.

MS. CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to reply just quickly to this, please.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I — I certainly do. I certainly do. I — I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.

MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: I — I — I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.

This was the point where a little voice in the back of Romney’s perfectly coiffed hair should have screamed, ALERT! ALERT!  Why is he so confident?  What does he know that I don’t?

Crowley, playing Miss Instant Fact Check brought Romney back to reality.

MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.

So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism — (inaudible) —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)

A knock down, not a knock out, but all the same…

Boom! Head shot.  Romney could not have looked any more pissed if his last dividend check from Bain Capital had bounced.   Mitt will have to call up his proctologist today to see if he can get Obama’s foot extracted.

Romney’s first stumble was less severe than his first, but it was his second Big Bird moment: another “huh?” remark that resonates long everything else that was said during 90 minutes is long forgotten.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equality for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And [sic] important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

ROMNEY: And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

Binders full of women? Unleash the Twitter and Tumblr hounds!

It wasn’t so bad for Mitt when he pissed off Sesame Street viewers.  Kids can’t vote.  Women can and they aren’t likely to forget how Mitt ducked the question whether or not he favors pay equity for them but isn’t so shy when he declares he wants to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood or make an abortion darn near impossible to get.

Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce  summed up just how nasty Mr. Mitt was last night at Hofstra University.   If you aren’t reading Pierce you should be.  With Molly Ivins and Hunter S. Thompson no longer with us, Pierce is the sharpest (and sharpest tongued) commentator on politics we have.

But not even I expected Romney to let his entitled, Lord-of-the-Manor freak flag fly as proudly as he did on Tuesday night. He got in the president’s face. He got in Crowley’s face. That moment when he was hectoring the president about the president’s pension made him look like someone to whom the valet has brought the wrong Mercedes.

“You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.”

Wow. To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment’s sleep. But those people are merely the anonymous Help. The guy he was speaking to on Tuesday night is a man of considerable international influence. Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I’ve certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He’s lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose.

And Romney bitched endlessly — endlessly — about the rules, and why this uppity fellow on the other stool was allowed to speak before he was spoken to, and why he didn’t get to speak at length on whatever he wanted to speak on because, after all, he is the CEO of the stage. Jesus Christ, I’d hate to play golf with the man. He’s the guy who counts to make sure you don’t have too many wedges in your bag. He knows every cheap subsection of every cheap ground rule, and he’ll call you on every one of them. You couldn’t get a free drop out of him with thumbscrews, and forget about conceding any putt outside two inches. And then, on the 18th hole, with all the money on the line, he kicks his ball out of the rough and denies up and down to the rules committee that he did it. Then he goes into the clubhouse bar and nobody sits with him.

When Obama and  Crowley fact-checked Mitt in real-time about whether the president used the word “terror” in his September 12 remarks, that was a “Drop the Mic and Fold Ya Arms” moment and the Right knew it.  The blogosphere exploded with apoplectic, whiny Republicans spitting on their laptops about “the libbrul media” and Crowley for not repeating Lehrer’s imitation of a doormat.  The talking heads of Fox News said the debate was a tie.  Which means Obama won.

Well played, Mr. President. Makes me wonder who that guy who was standing up there in your spot two weeks ago.

For Obama supporters, when you get that e-mail from Barack Obama today asking “How ya like me now?” in response to his performance in the second debate, don’t just compliment him. Send him a little green. Piss off a Koch Brother.

The Debates: No Bundini Browns Necessary

“Panic? Me? “

There’s laundry to be done.  There are leaves to be raked.   There are plants that went in the dirt in the spring that need to come out for the fall.  There’s always bills to be paid.

There’s always something else I could be doing.    Tonight though I’ll put all that aside for 90 minutes for the second of the three presidential debates.    Nobody needs yet another recap of the first one.   Romney won, Obama lost and it wasn’t even close.   Sure,  Romney won on style while Obama carried the day based upon substance, but since when have presidential races been about substance?

After the first debate the boxing metaphors came down like rain.   Romney jabbed while Obama covered up.    Romney threw punches that were high to the head, directly to the kidneys and below the belt, but at least he was fighting.   Obama just gave away round after right.   And of course,  my favorite Facebook and Twitter fall-back was, “Obama planned this.   He suckered Romney into a rope-a-dope strategy.”

Yeah?  And how did that work out for him?   If you believe the polls all it did was cost Obama the lead as Romney has pulled ahead of him.

It doesn’t matter.   Really it doesn’t.  Obama knows better than anyone he didn’t bring the noise.   I  fully expect he will do better tonight in the rematch.   He can hardly be worse.

The only explanation I’ve heard for the president’s previously passive performance came from a gentleman who has forgotten more about politics than I’ve ever known.    We were talking recently and he said he felt perhaps what President Obama feared was overconfidence that he had this thing wrapped up.    By coming in flat he not only revived Romney’s flagging campaign, he sent a sense of urgency through the entire Democratic Party and every last one of this supporters.    Some thought Obama did fine in the first debate while others were certain he screwed the pooch.  Everyone had a opinion and in the absence of any better evidence,  all of them had a small degree of truth to them.

If post-debate advice for Obama were crude oil, the price of gasoline would be $2 a gallon.    Here, there and everywhere (including here), there’s been all sort of advice on what Obama should do for the next debate.   He should come on strong like a house on fire and burn Romney on his various lies, half-truths and misstatements.   He should lay back, don’t overreact and just call up that unique coolness Obama is known for.    He should panic and beat up on Mittens like an unwanted stray dog.    I suggested Obama take a cold shower and “wake the fuck up” as Samuel L. Jackson would put it.

I don’t think Obama will do any of those things.

I don’t believe Obama will worry about things he can’t control like whether he “won” or “lost” the debate.   Twitter and the post-debate talking heads will decide that so there’s no reason to  sweat it.   Obama has one thing he needs to do and one thing only.   He needs to remind everyone why he was the best man for the job in 2008 and why he still is in 2012.

Watch an old Muhammad Ali video.  You might have to go back in the day when he was still known as Cassius Clay.   There will be two men in Ali’s corner.   One was  his trainer, Angelo Dundee.   The other was a guy who was called a trainer, but what Drew “Bundini” Brown really was Ali’s biggest cheerleader.   Bundini Brown was always in Ali’s ear offering encouragement, advice, folk wisdom, and probably strategy on how to box that Ali let go in one ear and out the other.

Bundini was always there to tell Ali what he should do, but he wasn’t  the one in the ring getting hit.   It was up to Ali to win the fight by himself and all the advice in the world isn’t much help when you’re getting punched in the mouth.

Over the last two weeks,  Obama received unasked for advice coming from all corners.   I’ve told him when he needs to do.   Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama have probably told him what he needs to do.   Malia and Sasha have probably told Daddy what he needs to do.

Does Obama needs someone like Bundini Brown up in his face?

It doesn’t matter.  Nobody’s advice matters.   Not Bubba’s, not Michelle and certainly not mine.   Anyone can tell Obama what he should do but it’s up to Obama to get the job done.    He doesn’t need a Bundini Brown yammering non-stop in  his ear.     This isn’t the first time in the ring.   Obama has debated Alan Keyes, Hillary Clinton and John McCain and any one of them is a more formidable opponent than Willard M. Romney.   Obama has squared off with foreign leaders, members of both sides in Congress, academics, journalists, and been able to hold his own.   Are we supposed to believe he’s suddenly turned into 174 pounds of mushy pudding?

Either Obama steps up his game or he doesn’t.  What he shouldn’t do is panic.  There’s more than enough coked-up Chicken Little’s running around crying the sky is falling and the election is lost.

Nonsense.    Nothing has been lost yet.   Obama once said of himself, “I’m skinny, but I’m tough.”   Guess we will have to see how tough he really is.   Just don’t believe everything hinges on what happens 90 minutes at Hofstra University is the end-all and be-all of this election.

And don’t believe all Obama needs his own Bundini Brown in his corner.   He doesn’t need anyone reminding him how to fight.