City officials in Philadelphia and Milwaukee (including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, left) have ripped the mask off flash mobs and denounced not “inner city youths” or “teens,” as the media describe the perpetrators, but violent young black men and teenagers.

Observers note that President Barack Obama seems to enjoy comparing himself to former President Dwight Eisenhower, having repeatedly claimed that he was reducing federal spending to Eisenhower-era levels. Although his assertion that the recent debt-ceiling deal would produce “the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was President” proved to be false, it is easy to understand why Obama wants to be like Ike: Today the 1950s are often viewed, rightly or wrongly, as an era of stability and prosperity in America, with Eisenhower the reassuring, moderate presence guiding it all.

Four of the six Republican state senators forced to defend their seats in a historic recall election on Tuesday emerged victorious, keeping the Wisconsin state Senate under GOP control despite a massive union-backed campaign sparked by reforms passed earlier this year. Democrats needed to win at least three of the races to gain a majority.

Announcing his entry into the 2012 presidential race, Gary Johnson rattled off a list of crises besetting the United States, from “record unemployment” to “loss of our nation’s industrial might.” “Why am I telling you this?” he asked, then answered: “Because America is better than this. And because I can help fix it.”

Former Congressman Newt Gingrich has never shied away from controversy, so the recent turmoil among his presidential campaign staff, leading to the abrupt departure of a number of his senior aides, was very much in character. At the time, the candidate whom Robert Novak of the Washington Post had once identified as a top presidential contender seemed to be dead in the water. Gingrich, however, has opted to soldier on, and while campaign funding is lagging, the toxic political climate and economic turbulence have made presidential electoral politics more uncertain than at any time in recent memory.