Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions

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Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: "Walk into the 'filing center' at a presidential debate and you'll see hundreds of reporters seated at tables doing two things: watching the action on TV ... and monitoring Twitter on their laptops. They are hard at work on one of the most elaborate exercises ever undertaken in groupthink.

"This was to have been the campaign when Twitter and other social media allowed new voices to enter the debate, delivering a more diverse array of opinion and helping candidates reach beyond the media filter. In reality, social media have had the opposite effect, causing conventional wisdom to be set, simplified and amplified, faster and more pervasively -- and nowhere is that more evident than in the debate coverage.

"Journalists ... monitor each other's tweets, testing out themes and gauging which candidate is ahead. ... Around the 30-minute mark, the conventional wisdom gels -- and subsequent tweets, except those from the most hardened partisans, increasingly reflect the Twitter-forged consensus. Well before the end, the journalists agree on a winner, a loser and which moments -- Big Bird, binders full of women, horses and bayonets -- should trend their way into the news coverage."

The world prefers Obama

A new 21-nation poll for BBC World Service indicates that citizens around the world would strongly prefer to see Barack Obama as president rather than Mitt Romney. The poll of 21,797 people indicates that Mr. Obama is preferred to Mr. Romney in 20 of the 21 countries polled. An average of 50 percent would prefer Mr. Obama, compared to 9 percent for Mr. Romney. The rest express no preference.

Of the countries polled, France is most strongly pro-Obama, with 72 percent wanting him to be re-elected and just 2 percent preferring Mr. Romney. Australia (67 percent), Canada (66 percent), Nigeria (66 percent) and Britain (65 percent) are among others with large majorities favoring Mr. Obama.

Pakistan, where 14 percent want to see Mr. Romney elected, compared to 11 percent who prefer Mr. Obama, is the only country where Mr. Romney is favored, but 75 percent expressed no opinion. The countries with the largest proportions favoring Mitt Romney are Kenya (18 percent) and Poland (16 percent).

The Muslim vote

From Catholic Online: "Many Americans assume Muslims are anti-Republican and pro-Obama. However ... in 2000, many more Muslims voted for [George W.] Bush than Al Gore. Although after the war in Iraq, Muslims did flock to the Democrats with 90 percent voting for Kerry and similar numbers for Obama in 2008.

"What should be understood is that Muslims are swing voters, and diverse. ... Muslim support for Obama has also waned with the economy. However, Mitt Romney, with his hawkish stance on issues in the Middle East, does not seem to be making many gains with the demographic either.

"Mitt Romney has little support from Muslims because most felt villianized by the Republican primary process. On multiple occasions, Republican candidates made incendiary statements about Muslims. ..." Examples cited include Herman Cain's pledge to not appoint Muslims to his Cabinet, Newt Gingrich's characterization of Palestinians as an "invented" people and Michelle Bachmann's claim that Muslims inside and outside the government are plotting to impose sharia law on Americans -- "in spite of the fact that most American Muslims don't even practice the strict, ultra-conservative brand of Islam."

Liberals love tax breaks

Steven Malanga at RealClearPolitics: "For decades liberals railed against the gradual evolution of the federal income tax into a morass of special provisions benefitting individual interests at the expense of the average taxpayer. Under that system, tax rates became meaningless for some households and companies because what they paid depended on how many special exemptions they could claim.

"Today, some liberals in Congress are leading the charge against a new rewrite of the tax code, even suggesting that tax reform is merely a plot to cut the taxes of America's wealthiest. ... The more you listen to some of these opponents rail against the very notion of reform, the more you have to wonder if the truth isn't that they have come to love the complexity of our tax code even more than big business does, because the system is now as much a vehicle for social engineering as it is a way to raise revenues."


Greg Victor (


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