Four More Years

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Election 2012 11-6-2012 11-19-15 PM
What you see above was the scene at the Election Night watch party I attended when CNN called Ohio for President Obama and projected that he would be re-elected. (Here’s a video if you want to see everyone go crazy.) It was, to put it mildly, an incredible night. Not only did the Democrats keep the Senate and the White House, but a number of crazy Republican candidates lost and three states (including my home state of Maryland) legalized gay marriage.

I was really proud to have voted for President Obama in my first presidential election and even prouder that I was able to do so in the all-important state of Ohio.

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Political Link List: November 5, 2012

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In this, the last political link list before Election Day, an all-New York Times edition of the list.

The New York Times: Ryan, Quiet for Now, Is Said to Be Planning for an Active Role (by Trip Gabriel)
Key passage: “Whether Mr. Ryan would be a wrangler of House conservatives in support of a White House seeking to reach across the aisle, or an agent of the Tea Party who keeps Mr. Romney from deviating from the true path, is a subject of much debate.”

The New York Times: Getting Out the Ohio Vote, Campaigns Are a Study in Contrasts (by Monica Davey and Michael Wines)
Key passage: “As a marathon campaign in Ohio nears a conclusion that its weary residents surely yearn for, the contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney has devolved into political trench warfare. It is a close-quarters fight: Mr. Obama’s operation, built over four years with more than a hundred offices around Ohio and hundreds more living rooms, office basements and even garages set aside as Election Day “staging locations,” versus the raw anger, worry and drive of a more recent set of Romney organizers.”

The New York Times: Challenger at the Crossroads (by Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro)
Key passage: “[Romney] is a careful student of the race that has enveloped his life. When he boards the front cabin of his campaign plane each morning, aides have already arranged the local and national newspapers on the table before him. He is a scanner of headlines and photos, not a cover-to-cover reader, they said. (“Four Days to Seal the Deal,” was the first headline he saw Friday, on the cover of USA Today.) In the waning days of the race, Mr. Romney’s world has become smaller and ever more tightly controlled. He no longer ventures to the press cabin of his plane, as he used to, apparently fearing an encounter that could change the contours of the race.”

The New York Times: Facing an Election Night Clamor (by Brian Stelter)
Key passage: “Executives at the major networks said in interviews that they don’t expect to be able to project a winner at 11 p.m. this year, given the closeness of the presidential race in several swing states. “I’m not even going to guess what time it will be,” said Marc Burstein, the senior executive producer for special events at ABC News. He predicted an abundance of caution this year because of the trend of early voting in many states. All of the executives interviewed said they would be entirely comfortable making projections after their competitors. “In a close contest, we’ll simply wait,” said Sam Feist, the Washington bureau chief for CNN. And all of them cited the journalism chestnut that it’s better to be right than first. “It’s always lovely when the two coincide,” said Ms. Ciprian-Matthews of CBS, “but everybody here is absolutely on the same page: accuracy comes first.””

The New York Times: Voice Is Strained, but Support on the Trail Unstinting (by Mark Leibovich)
Key passage: “Mr. Clinton’s presidency exemplifies what Mr. Obama is trying to make a case for. In the early 1990s, President Clinton also inherited a lagging economy, and then he led economic prosperity in his second term. Mr. Obama, who wrapped his former rival in a full-on hug onstage in Charlotte (their recent joint appearances have featured more cursory bro-hugs), said he should name Mr. Clinton to a new position known as Secretary for Explaining Stuff. Out of public view, the former president has been equally tireless. In a 20-minute car ride Saturday after a rally in Chesapeake, Va., to the Norfolk airport, Mr. Clinton recorded 40 “robo-calls” for Democratic Congressional candidates across the country. In addition to headlining 37 rallies for Mr. Obama over the last seven weeks of the campaign (including events scheduled through Monday), Mr. Clinton is serving as a back-channel strategist for the re-election enterprise.”

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Political Link List: November 1, 2012

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The Washington Post: Obama struggles to balance African Americans’ hopes with country’s as a whole (by Peter Wallsten)
Key passage: “Despite Obama’s past work as a community organizer, a background that inspired many liberal activists to initially see Obama as one of their own, he has made clear that as president he has broader obligations than social activism. Clayborne Carson, the Stanford University historian tapped by King’s widow to archive and study King’s papers, said Obama seems to relate most closely to King’s earlier approaches, when he focused on more universal themes and tried not to alienate whites. King took greater risks later in his life, Carson said, launching the Poor People’s Campaign and opposing the Vietnam War.”

The New York Times: Libya Warnings Were Plentiful, but Unspecific (by Michael R. Gordon, Erich Schmitt, and Michael S. Schmidt)
Key passage: ““The lethality of an armed, massed attack by dozens of individuals is something greater than we’ve ever seen in Libya over the last period that we’ve been there,” Patrick F. Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management, told reporters at a news conference on Oct. 10. But David Oliveira, a State Department security officer who was stationed in Benghazi from June 2 to July 5, said he told members and staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he recalled thinking that if 100 or more assailants sought to breach the mission’s walls, “there was nothing that we could do about it because we just didn’t have the manpower, we just didn’t have the facilities.””

The Washington Post: Ohio, the Bull’s-eye State: Obama, Romney aim full arsenals at vital electoral prize (by Dan Balz and Felicia Sonmez)
Key passage: “Over the past two years, Ohio’s economy has begun to rebound. Unemployment stands at 7 percent, below the national average and down from 9.4 percent in November 2010, when Republicans scored major victories in the midterm elections. Republican Gov. John Kasich claims his policies have helped turn around the economy, but the brightening picture gives a potential lift to Obama as Election Day nears. Obama’s campaign set a strategy designed to highlight those improvements and to draw a sharp contrast with Romney on the auto bailout in particular. “It’s so rare in presidential politics that you have such a state-
specific message,” said [Aaron] Pickrell, Obama’s Ohio strategist. “The auto bailout gave us that contrast.””

The New York Times: Idealism Harder to Find From Young Volunteers (by Jesse McKinley)
Key passage: “In interviews, many college-age volunteers, giving up their free time between studying, testing and survival jobs, often seem driven more by realism than idealism, leavened by their own family histories and the awkward contradictions of young adults trying to find their way.”

GQ: Yes They Can (They Think) (by Reid Cherlin)
Key passage: “For panicked Democrats, the serenity and positivity of the Obama Headquarters dream-world can be enraging. Yes, they recognize that an imperviousness to the Beltway's daily soap operas has always been a strength of the Obama operation. It was, after all, the no-drama approach that guided the 2008 campaign through the shoals of Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and Sarah Palin. And yet, vindicated so grandly, here they find themselves again, the outcome uncertain, aware of the usual whispering that their self-assurance may actually be self-delusion. "It's a complete bubble—they don't listen to anyone," a Democratic strategist put it to me fretfully. A top Republican agreed, with an opposite measure of glee: "No one will tell the truth in there." The only way to silence the complaining, the Obama folks understand quite well, is to win. Which means that to satisfy their critics, first they have to ignore them.”

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Political Link List: October 30, 2012

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New York Times: Both Romney and Obama Avoid Talk of Climate Change (by John M. Broder)
Key passage: “Any serious effort to address climate change will require a transformation of the nation’s system for producing and consuming energy and will, at least in the medium term, mean higher prices for fuel and electricity. Powerful incumbent industries — coal, oil, utilities — are threatened by such changes and have mounted a well-financed long-term campaign to sow doubt about climate change. The Koch brothers and others in the oil industry have underwritten advertising campaigns and grass-roots efforts to support like-minded candidates. And the Republican Party has essentially declared climate change a nonproblem.”

The Washington Post’s series about the federal counter-terrorism apparatus: “The Permanent War”

  1. Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists (by Greg Miller)
    Key passage:
    “Obama approves the criteria for lists and signs off on drone strikes outside Pakistan, where decisions on when to fire are made by the director of the CIA. But aside from Obama’s presence at “Terror Tuesday” meetings — which generally are devoted to discussing terrorism threats and trends rather than approving targets — the president’s involvement is more indirect.” 
  2. A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy (by Karen DeYoung)
    Key passage:
    “Brennan is leading efforts to curtail the CIA’s primary responsibility for targeted killings. Over opposition from the agency, he has argued that it should focus on intelligence activities and leave lethal action to its more traditional home in the military, where the law requires greater transparency. Still, during Brennan’s tenure, the CIA has carried out hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan and opened a new base for armed drones in the Arabian Peninsula. Although he insists that all agencies have the opportunity to weigh in on decisions, making differing perspectives available to the Oval Office, Brennan wields enormous power in shaping decisions on “kill” lists and the allocation of armed drones, the war’s signature weapon.” 
  3. Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations (by Craig Whitlock)
    Key passage:
    “In Washington, the Obama administration has taken a series of steps to sustain the drone campaign for another decade, developing an elaborate new targeting database, called the “disposition matrix,” and a classified “playbook” to spell out how decisions on targeted killing are made. Djibouti is the clearest example of how the United States is laying the groundwork to carry out these operations overseas. For the past decade, the Pentagon has labeled Lemonnier an “expeditionary,” or temporary, camp. But it is now hardening into the U.S. military’s first permanent drone war base.”

Key passage: “It's a simple, eternal political truism: Democrats are less likely to turn out to vote than Republicans. It's reflected in the difference between polls of registered voters and those of likely voters -- in Gallup's latest survey, for example, Obama and Romney were tied, 47-47, among registered voters, but Romney led 50-46 among likely voters. If the Obama campaign, through organization and elbow grease, can drive more of those less-likely voters to the polls, the president's chances get better.”

Key passage: “In the view of most specialists, the danger to United States territory from Al Qaeda and its allies is far less than it was in 2001. Al Qaeda’s leaders have been relentlessly hunted, its ideology was rejected by most of the young Muslims who led the Arab revolts, and its recruits in the United States have been few. Of more than 160,000 homicides in the country since Sept. 11, 2001, just 14 were carried out by Qaeda sympathizers in the name of jihad.”

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