1. On this day in 1865, in one of the greatest inaugural addresses in American history, Abraham Lincoln, beginning his second term as president, spoke at a time of triumph: The Civil War was winding down and slavery receding into the history books. Yet Lincoln, filled with sadness and reflection, spoke not of victory, but of the damage that had been done to the country. He reminded both victor and vanquished that both sides had erred in going to war, despite their bitter disagreement over the war’s central issue, slavery.

    "With malice toward none; with charity for all," Lincoln said, "let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds."

    The address is inscribed, along with his Gettysburg Address, in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. In 2012 Peter Hitchens described the address as “one of the most overwhelming pieces of political prose ever crafted in any language.”

    Lincoln had no way of knowing, of course, that in the crowd that day was the actor John Wilkes Booth — who would assassinate the president just six weeks later.

    Here’s what else happened on this day in history


  2. On this day in 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant established the nation’s first national park — Yellowstone. A future president, Gerald Ford, worked as a park ranger at Yellowstone — the only President to ever work as a park ranger.

    Here’s what else happened on this day in history


  3. According to White House records, Jimmy Carter watched 480 films during his four years in the White House — around 2.5 movies a week.

    The first one he watched: All the President’s Men, about the Watergate scandal that sank Nixon. He also became the first president to watch an X-rated movie in the mansion: Midnight Cowboy, which today doesn’t seem like much, but in 1969 shocked audiences with its sex scenes and drug use. (By the time Carter saw it, the rating had been changed to R.)

    The favorite films of every modern president


  4. Half of GOP voters think a non-existent group stole the election for Obama

    According to PPP — the pollster clearly having the most fun after the election — “49 percent of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama,” compared with 52 percent who said the same in 2008. The problem? ACORN no longer exists. The community organizing group went bankrupt and disbanded in 2010. I think there’s a fairly “charitable explanation” for this, says Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect. It’s clear “a large number of Republicans don’t like President Obama, and when offered a chance to endorse something that signals that dislike, they did it, even if the ‘something’ is absolutely insane.” That’s too charitable, says Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog. After all, “Fox News keeps telling its viewers that ACORN still does exist — at least in altered form” — and its former employees are responsible for a “massive subversion of the American way of life.” 

    This week’s 4 most ridiculous, head-scratching poll results

    (Source: theweek.com)


  5. In 1860, an 11-year-old girl wrote to Abe Lincoln, suggesting he grow a beard. He not only responded, he obliged.

    "Hon A B Lincoln…

    Dear Sir

    My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin’s. I am a little girl only 11 years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you any way and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President. My father is going to vote for you and if I was a man I would vote for you to but I will try to get every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be. When you direct your letter direct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chautauqua County New York. 

    I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye

    Grace Bedell”

    Lincoln responded a few days later: 

    "Miss Grace Bedell

    My dear little Miss 

    Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received — I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters — I have three sons — one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age — They, with their mother, constitute my whole family — As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now? 

    Your very sincere well wisher,

    A. Lincoln”

    While he made no promises about the beard to Bedell, he stopped shaving and allowed the beard to grow not long after their exchange and was elected as the 16th president of the United States a few weeks later. On his inaugural train ride from Illinois to Washington, D.C., the president-elect stopped in Bedell’s hometown of Westfield, N.Y., and asked to meet her.

    (Source: theweek.com)


  6. Liberal schadenfreude is about to reach overdose levels. Just when you thought the dead horse of Mitt Romney’s campaign had been beaten more than enough — and most savagely by members of his own party — Dave Wasserman at Cook Political Report projects that the final count of the popular vote, which is still ongoing, will show Romney winning 47 percent of the electorate.



  8. Here are the latest electoral college results, according to theAssociated Press: Mitt Romney has 33 electoral votes, and President Obama has 3. There are 502 electoral votes still in play. A candidate needs 270 to win. Stay tuned for the latest, as we’ll continually update this post throughout the night. 


  9. Undecided voters are not going to vote against someone because they “forgot” stuff. You have to disqualify the candidate with his own words and portray them as craven, as someone who will say anything to get elected. That is a tell. It shows people that the other candidate cannot be trustworthy, and if you can’t trust him, then you won’t trust him with the country. The core attack against John Kerry in 2004 was not that he was effete and out of touch, it was that he had no core. This wasn’t true, but it worked really well. George W. Bush… he had a core. Obama has a core. But his campaign chose a line of attack that didn’t completely de-core-ify Mitt Romney. If Obama had been as aggressive in the first debate as he was in the last two, where he pointed out, over and over again, that Romney was inventing himself anew (the etch-a-sketch candidate), if he did this THE FIRST TIME PEOPLE SAW THE TWO MEN TOGETHER (sorry for screaming), Obama would have had this election wrapped up.”

    Marc Ambinder, who predicts that, even though it’s “anyone’s race,” Obama is still slightly favored to win re-election.


  10. Cartoon of the day: The last man standing
    Mike Luckovich, © 2012 Creators Syndicate

    More toons


  11. The publication: The New Yorker
    The endorsement: Obama
    The key quote: "The reëlection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney — a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity.
    The context: "If you spell reelection with an umlaut," one GOP insider tells Politico, “odds are your endorsement will go for Obama.”

    The publication: Reno Gazette-Journal
    The endorsement: Romney
    The key quote: "It wasn’t an easy decision. A recommendation against an incumbent can’t be taken lightly… However, while [Obama] had to contend with a Republican Party that was determined to deny him a second term at any cost, Obama cannot avoid the consequences of poor decisions and misplaced priorities."
    The context: "Somewhat offsetting the pro-Romney votes of the Gazette-Journal and the Las Vegas Review-Journal,” says The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Sun has endorsed Obama for president, “taking a different direction than Nevada’s two other largest newspapers” in this swing state.

    The publication: Cleveland Plain-Dealer
    The endorsement: Obama
    The key quote: "Four years ago, this newspaper’s editorial board enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama… our endorsement this year comes with less enthusiasm or optimism. Obama has changed — and it’s more than gray hair. The unifier of 2008 now engages in relentless attacks on his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The big dreamer of 2008 offers little in the way of a second-term agenda. There is a world-weariness unseen four years ago."
    The context: Obama won the backing of two of the three most important newspapers in this critical swing state, says Leigh Ann Caldwell at CBS News, but both — the Plain-Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal, “offered less-than-ringing support.”

    8 major news outlets’ presidential endorsements


  12. In 2008, 79.8 percent of Americans making $100,000 or more voted, vs. just 51.9 percent of people making less than $20,000.

    Here, a deeper look at How America Votes.

    (By the way, we’ll be doing infographics like this one every week from now on!)


  13. "This may go down in history as the Big Bird debate," says Nina Strochlic atThe Daily Beast. As far as the Twitter consensus went, threatening to fire Big Bird to recoup the 0.00014 percent of the federal budget that goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was mean, and bad politics. “Obama killed Osama Bin Laden. Romney wants to kill Big Bird. I think that says enough,” tweeted @BigBirdRomney. “If Romney had grown up with me, he wouldn’t have his numbers all screwed up,” added @BIGBIRD, capping off his tweet with a frowny-face emoticon. @FiredBigBird was on a roll, posting a photo of Big Bird holding a sign that read “Will Work for Food,” and taunting Romney: "If you think [you] REALLY won this debate just know I have nearly 27,000 followers and we all remember your 47% remarks." 

    'Unemployed Big Bird' and 3 other debate-inspired memes