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Current location: New Orleans, LA
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Posted on NewYorker.com by David Remnick, October 5, 2012

When Barack Obama was a student at Harvard Law School, he was never known as a particularly good debater. In class, if he thought that a fellow student had said something foolish, he showed no forensic bloodlust. He did not go out of his way to defeat someone in argument; instead he tried, always with a certain decorous courtesy, to try to persuade, to reframe his interlocutor’s view, to signal his understanding while disagreeing. Obama became president of the law review—the first African-American to do so—but he won as a voice of conciliation. He avoided the Ames Moot Court Competition, where near contemporaries like Cass Sunstein, Deval Patrick, and Kathleen Sullivan made their names.

Laurence H. Tribe, a leading constitutional-law scholar and Obama’s mentor at Harvard, told me after Wednesday night’s debate with Mitt Romney, “Although I would have been happier with a more aggressive debate performance by the President, I’ve had to remind myself that Barack Obama’s instincts and talents have never included going for an opponent’s jugular. That’s just not who he is or ever has been.

Some of Obama’s old friends from Harvard and from his early days as an organizer and as a neophyte politician in Chicago were disappointed that Obama so clearly lost the debate—at least on the level of sheer performance if not substance—but the tone of that performance did not come entirely as a shock.

Christopher Edley, Jr., who also taught Obama at Harvard, served as an informal adviser, and is now dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, laughed when I asked him if he was disappointed by the President’s strangely absent demeanor and pedagogical answers. “I’m a professor and he was a professor: What’s the problem?!” he said. “I usually don’t treat being professorial as a problem. It’s usually great in my book, but he played in that particular comfort zone of his and it was a mismatch for the occasion. I’ve been in too many debate-prep sessions to count with Presidential candidates—I worked with Dukakis, Gore, Dean, and Obama, in 2008—and there are some basics that the President just didn’t check off. Most glaringly, for starters, he failed to look into the camera for his closing statement.

“The reason I hate campaigns,” Edley continued, “is that being right on the substance isn’t good enough. That’s why I’m an academic. Of course, Obama knows that, but it’s also a question of what he cares about. I admire him for caring more about the substance than the tactics even if it makes me grimace when I watch him. Why does he do it? Look, we all do things in the short term that are not consistent with a long-term goal, whether it’s failing to save for retirement or watching TV instead of doing your homework. It’s called being human rather than being the ideal client of your handlers. It makes it harder to achieve his goal, which is to get reëlected. But if you wanted authenticity you got it night. And, really, you got it in an unsurprising way. We know that Obama skews cerebral and that he has never liked debates as a way to engage issues. He has said that many times.”

Obama’s friends from his days as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side and his first campaigns in the city concentrated less on his forensic shortcomings; they were more frustrated with what they saw as Romney’s capacity to get away with inconsistencies and worse.

Will Burns, a Chicago alderman, who, as a student, worked for Obama in his (successful) 1996 campaign for the Illinois State Senate and his (unsuccessful) 2000 campaign for Congress, said that the format was too “loosey-goosey” for Obama, who failed to get aggressive with Romney.

The President has always been someone who takes the truth seriously and has a great faith in the American people and their ability to handle big ideas,” Burns said. “He doesn’t patronize them. He uses the campaign as an educative process. He wants to win but also wants to be clear about his ideas…. He took complex ideas like Medicare and the debt and tried to explain it to people so they can understand them while at the same time not being patronizing. And he is doing this with an opponent who is completely dissembling on every issue! There is a certain brazenness about Romney. It’s like Colbert talking about ‘truthiness.’ Romney stood there, with his hair and his jaw and his terrific angles—and he lied! About taxes, about Medicare. Obama pushed back on the five-trillion-dollar tax cut or the way Romney’s version of Medicare would destroy Medicare as we know it. And Romney just tilted his head and said, Oh, no, it won’t. At some point, you have to believe that the facts speak for themselves.”

Burns recalled that when Obama ran for Congress against the incumbent Bobby Rush and a fellow state senator Donnie Trotter, he would often find the debates frustrating, even absurd. “Obama always tried to keep his cool,” Burns said. “I sensed that last night. He was trying to keep his cool.”

Maybe so, said the Reverend Alvin Love, of the Lilydale First Baptist Church, on the South Side, “but I thought the President was a little laid back. Romney was really aggressive, even overly aggressive and got away with some stuff. The President stuck to the issues and took great pains to explain his positions and sometimes that can come off, in that setting, as a little cold. I thought he held his own but I guess when you get into that first debate, you want your guy to blow the competition away, and that didn’t happen.”

Reverend Love grew close to Obama when Obama was a community organizer. He could tell that Obama was never particularly comfortable in the debate format. “He’s better out there by himself,” he said. “His personality has always been kind of contemplative. In that kind of format, when you are contemplative, it makes you seem not as quick on the draw.”

Johnnie Owens, one of Obama’s fellow organizers on the South Side, told me, “I’ve seen him better. Some people said he came off flat and he did. He did his best, but a number of times when Romney was asked, Barack kept his head down too long and it made it look as if he didn’t want to deal with what Romney was saying, as if he was reading something. It would have looked better if he had lifted his head up and looked Romney in the eye.

“The job of being President,” Owens went on, “you can see it in his face—that level of seriousness, having to do what he does, and then go debate. His hair has gotten grayer so quickly! Mine, too, but for him it’s almost overnight. You can really sense the stress on him.”

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Fri Oct 5, 2012, 04:36 PM (1 replies)

The rMoney baby-eating scandal . . .

So, has anyone found any evidence of the rMoney baby-eating scandal? I'd like to know if that's a real story or just a rumor. Perhaps we should demand that rMoney prove that it's not true?
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Fri Oct 5, 2012, 01:09 PM (42 replies)

12 Silly Ways to Predict the Election (spoiler: Obama's winning)

12 Silly Ways to Predict the Election - Eyebrows, donuts, Chia pets, Halloween masks, and other less than scientific indications that Obama will beat Romney.—By Dave Gilson, posted on Mother Jones, Fri Oct. 5, 2012

If you want a fairly good sense of who will prevail in the presidential election, you could check out the numbers at TPM's Polltracker or the latest FiveThirtyEight forecast. But if you're less concerned with stuff like sample sizes, margins of error, or statistical rigor, you might consult any of these less than scientific indicators of who will win the White House.



According to "expert research" by the Grooming Lounge blog, seven out of the past eight elections were won by the candidate with the most kempt eyebrows. Apparently Romney needs a trim.

Advantage: Obama

Source: Grooming Lounge



Since 1940, children voting in Scholastic's mock election have selected the winner in all but two elections (1948 and 1960). If you're in grades 1 through 12 (or pretend to be), you can cast a vote here until October 10.

Advantage: Undetermined



"Dough-Bama" is currently beating "Mitt Yum-ney" by three points in a presidential donut poll being held by LaMar's Donuts. The chain notes that Dough-Bama, a donkey-shaped donut covered with blue sugar, beat its elephant-shaped rival, McCandyCain, in 2008.

Advantage: Obama

Source: LaMar's Donuts


The Redskin Rule

In 17 of the past 18 elections, this rule has held fast: If the Washington Redskins win their last home game before Election Day, the party that won the previous election wins this year's. The 'Skins play the Panthers at home on November 4.

Advantage: Undetermined


7-11 cups

Nationwide, 7-Eleven customers are picking Obama-themed coffee cups over Romney cups by a 3-to-2 margin. The convenience store claims that its 7-Election promotion, which has correctly identified the next president since 2000, has "a better track record than some well-known statistically valid polls."

Advantage: Obama

Source: 7-Eleven



Larry Schwimmer, a San Francisco-based astrologer, has analyzed Obama's star chart and concluded that he will be reelected. (He also insists that he predicted Romney's "47 percent" comment.) However, another astrologer, Donal Holland, says that signs in Obama's Solar Return chart indicate that he will lose.

Advantage: Undetermined


Chia pets

Since they went head to terracotta head in September, Chia Obamas have been outselling Chia Romneys by more than two to one.

Advantage: Obama

Source: Chia



The candidate with the whitest teeth has always won since 1992, claims Luster Premium White. The teeth-whitener brand predicts that unless "Romney makes a dental correction," the president will be smiling on November 7.

Advantage: Obama



Since 1992, participating in the Family Circle cookie bake-off has become obligatory for sitting and wannabe First Ladies. The domestic battle has predicted the election winner in 4 out of 5 races. This year, Michelle Obama's white and dark chocolate chip cookies won by the smallest margin in the contest's history.

Advantage: Obama

Source: Family Circle



Ladbrokes, the British bookmaker, has set the odds of a Obama victory at 4 to 1 and Romney win at 4 to 11. It also had Obama as the favorite in 2008.

Advantage: Obama


Halloween masks

"The most accurate predictor of Presidential politics since the mid-1990s." That's how the Spirit costume outlet describes its index of presidential Halloween mask sales. Likewise, BuyCostumes.com says its paper-mask poll has been "100% accurate since 2000!" Both contests currently have Obama ahead of Romney by nearly 30 points.

Advantage: Obama

Source: Spirit Halloween



Between 1896 and 2008, the taller presidential candidate won nearly two-thirds of the time. Obama is 6-foot-1; Romney is 6-foot-2.

Advantage: Romney


In case you lost track, that's eight indicators favoring Obama, one favoring Romney, and three with no clear favorite. Take that, Nate Silver

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Fri Oct 5, 2012, 11:02 AM (0 replies)

7-Election 2012

President Obama is still winning the 7-11 Coffee Poll . . .

Obama 60%
rMoney 40%


Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Thu Oct 4, 2012, 05:19 PM (1 replies)

DO SOMETHING POSITIVE . . . I promise you will feel better.

Okay, the scream/sob/whine fest is now officially over, regardless of your opinion of the President's performance last night. It's time to move on. DO SOMETHING POSITIVE . . . like RIGHT NOW. I promise you will feel better. I have some suggestions:

Save Big Bird, et al, by donating to PBS:


Donate to the President's reelection campaign:


Plant a tree . . . hug your kid/momma/dog . . . whatever . . . just DO SOMETHING POSITIVE!

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Thu Oct 4, 2012, 03:05 PM (1 replies)

Donate to 'Obama for America' today . . .

Let's tell that lying piece of sMitt what we think of his bullshit performance last night by making this a record-breaking day for the Obama-Biden campaign!


Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Thu Oct 4, 2012, 10:07 AM (4 replies)

Wow . . . Tweety is blowing a gasket!

Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Wed Oct 3, 2012, 10:42 PM (8 replies)

When Lehrer and asshole don't interrupt him

the Pres is doing just fine! Not fair . . . 2 against 1!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Wed Oct 3, 2012, 10:28 PM (0 replies)

What the fuck is wrong with Lehrer?

Why is Rmoney running the show? Tell him to shut thre fuck up!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Wed Oct 3, 2012, 09:53 PM (3 replies)

Who are these ‘undecided’ voters?

I don’t know any. None. Not one.

It’s not that I don’t believe that they exist; I’m sure they do. But they are obviously waiting to hear something that hasn’t been stated yet; but what?

More so than in any other election in my lifetime, the choice could not be more clear. Given recent events (the Citizens United ruling, the near-collapse of the economy, high unemployment, the threat by the GOP to reverse Roe v. Wade, etc.) how can one not have an opinion on which direction we should be heading as a nation?

I’m not trying to be a smart ass; I really want to know. What are they waiting for?

I have a couple of theories:

A) They are apathetic and probably won’t vote, no matter what.

B) They don’t like either party, which I can understand. But still, at this point, how can you not have an opinion? There have been many elections in which I didn’t like either choice, but I always voted, even if I selected a 3rd party candidate with no chance of winning, or wrote in my dogs name. It was just my little way of protesting. But never, at this point, would I have considered myself ‘undecided’.

C) They are perhaps in a coma, or maybe just a little bit slow?

Am I missing something? What other possibilities exist? I’d really like to know.
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Wed Oct 3, 2012, 07:28 PM (11 replies)
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