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Obama Accepts the Democratic Nomination

To no one's surprise, Barack Obama has decided to make another run for the White House. Last night he accepted the Democrats' offer of the nomination. He admitted that the country faces many challenges but said that the hole he inherited was so deep it will take more time to get out of it. He was sharply critical of Mitt Romney's economics and vowed never to turn Medicare into a voucher program, which is the heart of the budget Paul Ryan wrote in Congress. He also went after Romney's foreign policy, saying Romney wants to restart the Cold War.

Obama hammered the Republicans generally for being the party of outdated ideas. He said every election they come back with the same thing: more tax cuts for the rich. He ridiculed their plans by saying: "Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!"

There has been so much outright lying during this campaign that fact checking organizations have achieved great prominence. The Washington Post went over Obama's speech line by line looking for lies and didn't find any. All his statements were true except one that was marked misleading. He said that his tax plan would have the wealthiest taxpayers paying the same rate as during the Clinton administration. The statement is true but omits the fact that he would close some loopholes available during the 1990s, so wealthy taxpayers who used them might pay more. Still other than this, everything he actually said was true. Bill Clinton's speech was also entirely truthful Contrast these with Paul Ryan's speech which was full of demonstrably untrue statements, such as one blaming Obama for a factory closing in his home town that actually closed during George W. Bush's time in office.

Politico gives a list of eight takeaways from the Democratic convention, as follows.

  1. Obama gave a fine speech but Bill Clinton's was even better
  2. In energy and message, Charlotte beat Tampa
  3. Democrats are focusing on both the present but also the past, especially the Clinton administration
  4. Unforced errors occur, like fighting about God in public
  5. The dynamics of the race are unchanged
  6. Romney will continue to use the good cop (Clinton) bad cop (Obama) routine
  7. The base rules, with lots of women and Latinos on stage
  8. On foreign policy, Democrats hold the upper hand with Bin Laden dead and the Iraq war over

Gabrielle Giffords Recites Pledge of Allegiance

One of the emotional high points of the Democratic convention was former representative Gabrielle Giffords walking on stage with her friend, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, emphasizing "liberty and justice for all" at the end of it. Giffords was shot in the head in Jan. 2011 and her recovery is seen by many people as near miraculous. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is no stranger to misfortune either. Earlier in the evening she talked about the seven surgeries she had for breast cancer and how the ACA is so important to people like her who have pre-existing conditions and could never be insured without it.

Villaraigosa Says Romney Will Push Immigrants to Self Deport

Both parties are focusing on Latino voters. The Democrats would love to get 80% of the vote and the Republicans would be happy with 30%. Consequently, both conventions featured high-profile Latino politicians. The Republicans had Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) give impassioned speeches. The Democrats are largely an urban party, so they countered with mayors. Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio gave the keynote speech on Tuesday and the mayor of the nation's second largest city, Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, spoke to a cheering crowd last night about how his grandfather came from Mexico to Los Angeles a century ago with no money and no English and now his grandson is mayor. He talked about the DREAM Act and how the two parties are poles apart on immigration. Romney wants to make life for illegal immigrants so tough that they voluntarily self deport whereas Democrats want to give the 12 million illegal immigrants some path toward legalization. This may not play well in Wyoming, but it is likely to play very well in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Florida, all states with large numbers of legal immigrants who have become citizens and can vote.

A fact little known outside Los Angeles is that Villaraigosa is not the mayor's birth name. He was born as Antonio Ramon Villar, Jr. When he married Corina Raigosa in 1987, they both changed their last names to Villaraigosa. After 20 years of marriage, the couple divorced. After several well-publicized relationships, the 59-year-old Villaraigosa is now one of the city's more eligible bachelors.

Winners and Losers from the Democratic Convention

The Hill has made a list of who won and who lost at the Democratic Convention. Here it is.

President Obama gave a fine speech, although not his best, and will probably get a bounce in the polls
Michelle Obama gave the best speech of either convention and made the point that her husband cares about people
Bill Clinton gave a vintage-Clinton speech heavy on policy while skewering Mitt Romney repeatedly
Hillary Clinton wasn't even there but talk of "Hillary 2016" wasn't far from the surface
Vice President Biden knows that his job is to be the attack dog and his teeth are ready to go
Julian Castro carved Romney to bits and will surely achieve office higher than San Antonio mayor later
Debbie Wasserman Schultz ran a fine convention and is clearly a rising star in the party
Law enforcement kept everything under control with no unruly protests to mar the convention
Gabrielle Giffords drew tears from the crowd as a result of her recovery from an assassination attempt last year
The Weather Channel starred at both conventions as rain was topic A for 2 weeks
Martin O'Malley suggested people weren't better off than 4 years ago but don't write him off for 2016 quite yet
North Carolina hotels will suffer as reporters talk about the rats, bed bugs, and prostitutes they encountered there
Cory Booker and Antonio Villaraigosa took some heat for mismanaging God
Four-day conventions will be no more as both parties did fine in 3 days

Jobs Report Will Be Out Today

The jobs report for August will be released today. Economists are estimating a net gain of 125,000 jobs in August but a stable unemployment rate of 8.3%. If jobs were added in August, it would mark 30 consecutive months of job growth, something Obama will no doubt mention over and over, whereas Romney will ignore that and just focus on the unemployment rate. In July 163,000 new jobs were added to the economy.

European Central Bank Takes Action to Avert Crisis

The ECB, the European "Fed," announced a decision yesterday to start buying bonds of Eurozone countries in trouble in order to stabilize the euro. The stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic roared their approval by rallying strongly. The Dow Jones Industrials index was up 244 points (almost 2%) yesterday. It closed at 13,292.

This development is a two-fer for Obama and the Democrats. First, it is likely to prevent the euro from collapsing, which would certainly have affected the U.S. economy in a very negative way. Second, when the subject of "are you better off now than 4 years ago" comes up, Obama can point to the fact that the Dow Jones was 8281 the day before he took office. This represents a gain of 61% during his time in office. It also means that millions of people's IRA's and 401(k)'s and other investments are way up since Obama took over. By way of contrast, the Dow Jones index was 23% lower on the day George W. Bush left office compared to where it was (10,686) when he showed up for work on Jan. 20, 2001. So during the rest of the campaign we may have the odd situation of Republicans talking about jobs and Democrats talking about the stock market.

A New Generation of Kennedys Will Be in Congress in January

To the extent Americans have a royal family, it is probably the Kennedys. Now a new generation is taking over the torch. Joe Kennedy III, grandson of the late senator Robert F. "Bobby" Kennedy, has won the Democratic primary in MA-04, the seat opened up by the retirement of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). Kennedy will face Sean Bielat in the general election and is expected to win in a landslide. He has the typical Kennedy biography: degrees from top schools (Stanford and Harvard Law School), a stint in the Peace Corps, a prosecutor, and soon, Congress. Although he will (barely) be 35 on inauguration day 2017, "Kennedy 2032" is more realistic than "Kennedy 2016."

With a third generation of Kennedys now entering the political arena, it is worthwhile to pause for a minute to see how far we have come. On Oct. 1, 1962, Joe's grandfather, Bobby Kennedy, then Attorney General of the United States, enrolled a Black student, James Meredith, at the University of Mississippi at the point of a gun, backed by 500 U.S. Marshalls, with the governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, standing in the school house door trying to keep Meredith out. Fifty years later Black students attend universities all over the country without incident and we have a (half-) Black President. On a historical time scale, that is moving pretty fast.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
New Jersey 51% 44%   Aug 27 Sep 02 Quinnipiac U.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
New Jersey Bob Menendez* 50% Joseph Kyrillos 40%     Aug 27 Sep 02 Quinnipiac U.

* Denotes incumbent