The Daily Wrap


Today on the Dish, Andrew absorbed context on past elections, and while the bloggers reacted some more, readers weighed in. Candy Crowley said Romney "picked the wrong word" on the Rose Garden terror speech, a reader nailed Andrew's impression of Obama and Nate Cohn expected only a small bump. Plus, Beyonce said to "better put three rings on it."

Romney misled on Obama's pension plan, CBS News unraveled the energy debate and, despite the binders, Romney didn't promote women. George Will then gave it to Obama, Beinart worried that the race was Romney's to lose, and while XKCD illustrated the problem with predicting election winners, Chris Hayes lamented the debate discussion on climate change. The economy then picked up, David Roberts dug into coal policy and Team Romney tried to make hay of the debate. People with various disabilities left regular journalists in the dust and Arrested Development met Election 2012. 

Andrew then noted that Jeffrey Goldberg got smeared, Evan Osnos exposed China's corruption and Ed Kilgore examined GOP talking points on Benghazi. Beinart addressed Obama's mideast policy and seniors languished in prison.

In assorted commentary, Guinness went gay, authentic Thai food flummoxed and Pinterest seemed like a therapeutic tool. Moran Meis then remembered a Marxist, Tom Stafford diagnosed inbox obsessions and Michael Moynihan made the case against Holocaust denial laws. FOTD here, MHB here, VFYW here and Andrew thanked the team. Plus, don't forget to ask Mark Bowden anything!


The Recovery Arrives?


Daniel Gross analyzes the latest Census Bureau report (pdf) on retail numbers:

One by one, over the past two years, the gears that make the mighty consumer engine go have been engaged. And the data points to an ironic twist in the trajectory of the U.S. economy. Businesses, which thrived and boomed in the early years of this subpar economy, are now increasingly taking a backseat to increasingly upbeat consumers.

Bill McBride notes that September housing starts were up, hitting a four-year high:

Right now starts are on pace to be up about 25% from 2011.

Joe Weisenthal argues the "big story of the moment" is "the full-on comeback in everything related to consumers and households." Clive Crook throws cold water:

The International Monetary Fund has just released new forecasts. Global growth this year, fourth quarter over fourth quarter, is expected to be just 3.0 percent — less than last year’s 3.2 percent, and cut from the already puny 3.7 percent the IMF’s economists were predicting for 2012 last spring. They’ve cut the forecast for growth in the U.S. by 0.3 percentage points, and they now expect the U.S. economy to expand even more slowly this year (1.7 percent) than it did in 2011 (2.0 percent).

Jared Bernstein worries that the jobless rate is "too high to boost workers' bargaining power and you can see that in the paychecks." But he believes that "things are slowly getting better and Romney’s claims to the contrary may be drowned out by this reality":

I suspect there’s NCD—nontrivial cognitive dissonance–between Romney’s portrait of the economy and many people’s experience of it, especially around some of the more tangible aspects, like housing values and mortgage rates. 

Face Of The Day


Social assistants hold a girl who was sleeping in the street in the surroundings of Parque Uniao shantytown during an operation to clear out the city's crack addicts, in Rio de Janeiro, on October 17, 2012. By Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images.

Cutting The Crap On Coal

David Roberts goes digging for the two candidates' real intentions regarding coal:

For political reasons, Obama will never say a cross word about coal. It is too popular in too many blue and swing states. He will continue to sing the praises of "clean coal" and maintain the pretense that there is a future for coal in a climate-constrained power system. But he will not do anything to halt coal's inevitable economic decline. He'll enforce existing EPA regulations and give the agency space to issue new ones. He'll back the natural gas industry and the clean-energy industry. And he'll let history take its course.

Romney, taking a page from the playbook of conservative icon William F. Buckley, will stand athwart history, yelling "Stop!" Despite his bluster, he can't just suspend EPA rules. But he can make sure that new rules are lax and existing rules poorly enforced. With a friendly legislature, he can insure that all future EPA rules pass through the congressional meatgrinder, effectively crippling the agency's independent rulemaking ability. But he can't put the natural gas genie back in the bottle. He can't stop the falling costs of solar and wind power. And he can't change the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans, across regions and demographics, support a transition to modern, cleaner power system. 

Previous Dish here.

Ad War Update: The Binder Speaks!

No new ads from the Obama campaign, just a few web videos – one focused on GOTV and another rounding up pundit opinions that the president won last night. The Romney campaign, on the other hand, is the first to ad-weaponize the debate (ad buy size/scope unknown):

The Romney campaign is also making a play for the female vote in a new ad touting some of the women in Romney's cabinet/binder (ad buy size/scope unknown):

Also, "El Mitt Moderado" has arrived (ad buy size/scope unknown):

Natalie Jennings explains:

What it says (translated): "The liberal Democrats promised immigration reform… Now, the Democrats say they never made a promise … Romney and the Republicans will fight for bipartisan reform to bring families together."

What it means: Mitt Romney, who trails significantly in polling among Hispanic voters, is trying to turn the tables. The ad highlights an exchange from last night’s debate in which he confronted Obama over the president’s unfulfilled promise of immigration reform.

And here is another ad pushing Romney's support for contraception and abortion exemptions, an attempt to counter the many Team Obama spots that have asserted otherwise (ad buy size/scope unknown):

These new ads come with news that the Romney campaign is buying another $13.6 million in airtime across nine states, especially Florida – though the report also indicates that Obama is still outspending them in every state but Colorado. Meanwhile, ad-buying firm SMG Delta says the presidential ad war has thus far cost a whopping $807 million:

The Obama campaign is one ad buy away from reaching $300 million by itself. But with outside money factored in, "Team Romney" (the campaign plus outside groups supporting him or attacking the president) is outspending "Team Obama" $455 million to $352 million. The Romney campaign, which has come on since Labor Day, is now the second-biggest spender at $164 million.

And Team Romney's Super PAC, Restore Our Future, is hitting the president in Wisconsin with this new spot focused on small business jobs ($1.2 million buy):

Here's a new web ad from GOP dark-money outfit American Future Fund that reboots Hillary's old "3am" ad to hit Obama on Libya (ad buy size/scope unknown):

And from the pro-Democrat side, (Super) Majority PAC is spending $8.4 million on nine Senate races:

Including this recent buy, Majority PAC has now spent $28.7 million hoping to backstop to the Democratic majority in the Senate. The most popular subject in Majority PAC's nine state ad buy is women's issues including Planned Parenthood funding and money for mammograms and cancer screenings. Ads on these subjects are airing in media markets for three of the nine targeted races. … The second most popular subject in Majority PAC's slate of advertisements is some of the extreme positions taken by [GOP] candidates.

Here is their ad supporting Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and attacking her opponent, Republican Congressman Rick Berg:

In other outside spending news, Mike Bloomberg is planning eight figures worth of spending to support "moderate" candidates in the final weeks of the campaign. OpenSecrets' Peter Stone is tracking the Republican Jewish Coalition, a dark money group in the middle of a $6.5 million campaign across four states as part of their effort to replace Obama with Bibi's BFF Mitt:

The group's staff and board have strong connections to Romney and a passel of powerful GOP operatives and conservative groups that are spending many millions to defeat Obama. The RJC's board of directors is bristling with wealthy Republicans who together have donated and raised tens of millions of dollars for Romney and other Republican causes in this election cycle alone. And it has the ideological and financial allegiance of [GOP mega-donor Sheldon] Adelson, who has vowed to spend at least $100 million to defeat Obama.

Earlier this month, the RJC made a $2.5 million cable buy in its four target states, featuring Home Depot co-founder and RJC board member Bernie Marcus attacking the President’s economic policies. It's also responsible for Florida billboards emblazoned “Obama…Oy Vey! Had Enough?” and a mini-documentary attacking Obama’s policies towards Israel, titled “Perilous Times,” released late last month on the Internet. Also last month, the group recruited about 1,000 volunteers to spend two days knocking on doors in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A similar drive is planned in Nevada, and the RJC intends to send out about 2 million pieces of direct mail to Jewish voters.

Lastly, Molly Ball passes along a new study on the effectiveness of various ads in the presidential race, a battle Obama is apparently winning:

Obama's ads overall had the desired effect: They increased his share of the vote by six points while decreasing Romney's share of the vote by 8 points on average. Romney's ads, meanwhile, had no statistically significant effect on the survey respondents. The survey sample began the experiment favoring Romney by a 47-42 margin; after watching both candidates' ads, they favored Obama, 48-41.

There was a silver lining for Romney, however. His ads didn't convert swing voters, but they did persuade voters who picked John McCain in 2008 to vote for Romney this time around. Obama's ads had no impact on his supporters' enthusiasm. After watching both candidates' ads, the percentage of McCain voters extremely enthusiastic about voting increased 13 points, from 31 percent to 44 percent, while extremely enthusiastic Obama voters held steady at 38 percent. That means Romney's ads could be doing him some good by firing up his partisans so that they don't stay home on Election Day.

Ad War archive here.

How’s Your News? Election 2012!

What do you get when a crew of people with various disabilities decide to cover the national conventions? From the pitch:

"Election 2012" features candid, unplanned, unscripted interviews with numerous public figures approached at the Republican and Democratic conventions, including Rudy Giuliani, Jesse Jackson, Mitt Romney, Diane Sawyer, Karl Rove, Sen. Rob Portman, Herman Cain, Anne Coulter, Jesse Jackson, Rep. Michelle Bachman, Olivia Wilde, Sen. Barbra Boxer, Stephen Baldwin, Piers Morgan, Jared Leto, Sen. Pat Leahy, Rep. Barney Frank, and many, many more!

It's financed in part by friends of the Dish, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. But you can contribute to the ongoing series by watching the whole thing here for just $5. It's fucking hilarious but also weirdly revelatory about many public figures and recasts in ways you have to watch to understand the sheer talent, humor, and wit of people with physical and mental disabilities. They leave many regular journalists in the dust. Update from a reader:

I can't tell you how happy I was to see that my favorite blog posted a How's Your News link! My cousin, Jeremy, is in the group and I couldn't be more proud! Like you said, How's Your News highlights the oft overlooked talents of those with disabilities. As a matter of fact, before they were a news show, the group was a band (Sue was singing the group's theme song at one point in the trailer), so the group members are not only journalists, but also talented musicians. For Jeremy especially, both the band and the show have been a great outlet for his charismatic energy and has given him opportunities that are not normally available to someone with his disabilities. Personally, what I love most about HYN is the authenticity. I can attest that the person on camera is 100% Jeremy. He's quite the star, if I do say so myself.

China’s Crash Course In Accountability


Last year a high-speed rail crash killed 40 people in Wenzhou, China. Evan Osnos explores how public outcry online kept the story alive:

[I]nstead of moving on, the public wanted to know what had happened, and why. This was not a bus plunging off a road in a provincial outpost; it was dozens of men and women dying on one of the nation’s proudest achievements—in a newly wired age, when passengers had cell phones and witnesses and critics finally had the tools to humiliate the propagandists. Within days, the state-owned company that produced the signal box apologized for mistakes in its design.

He adds:

[P]eople see no shortage of reasons to demand better: Beijing spends more today on domestic security, protecting the state from a daily parade of public grievances and unrest, than it does on foreign defense. Despite the efforts of the censors, Chinese people can go online and read that their leaders eat uncontaminated vegetables grown at remote, guarded farms, and breathe air that has been scrubbed by filters. 

However, Mark Leonard takes the view that the government's management of social media is highly calculated:

After [the] tragic train crash in Wenzhou in 2011, the government allowed 10 million critical messages about the Chinese railway minister – who was the object of the ire of even top officials at that point – to be aired on social media over five days. 

This suggests that the Internet has already "become an integral part of the governing strategy of the Communist Party," argues Leonard:

Many regimes collapse when they miscalculate public opposition to particular policies or because their citizens stop bringing grievances to a state they no longer regard as legitimate. Allowing criticism may legitimize the state and help the regime maintain power. … The Internet could lend greater legitimacy and resilience to the one-party state. However, China’s officials will never stop fearing a technology that could sweep them away.

(Photo: Bullet train D3115 derailed on a bridge on July 24, 2011 in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. The first four coaches and the 15th and 16th coaches of the train slid off the track, killing 40 and injured 192 people. By ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)