Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for September 2012

Let the Debate about Debates Begin: A Debatably Open Thread

The first Presidential Debate is in a few days. Common wisdom is that this will be the last chance Mitt Romney has to distract from an endless series of misfortunes and turn around GOP hopes for the White House.

Will Mr. Romney step up to the plate better than he did when others paid $50,000 to clean theirs listening to him? Will he be able to come across as a Regular Guy not completely out of touch with the reality others live in?

Hey, how about a friendly $10,000 wager on the outcome? That’s what regular people do, right?

Romney’s other rhetorical atrocity: “Palestinians not wanting to see peace”

It’s a disgusting, borderline racist generalization and flies in the face of the reality of one of the most complex socio-political phenomena in the world.  For those of you who engage with people from the right in other fora, I think the following article from Peter Beinart, a writer with whom I often disagree, will prove quite helpful.  

It contains some useful links as well, such as one to data from Khalil Shikaki, the most internationally respected Palestinian pollster.  (Of course, beware that right-wingers, with their fascination with ‘guilt by association’ may point out that his brother, Fathi, was the founder of Islamic Jihad.  This has happened to me.  If one’s brother is a terrorist, one can’t possibly be a respected Political Scientist.  Because siblings always agree and always resemble one another.  Always.  Perfectly.  Since Cain and Abel.  Right?)

Anyway, as I said, the article is not only compelling and interesting and sympathetic to the world views of Moose on the subject (as I have witnessed it) it is also useful.

On a Lighter Note: A Frivolously Open Thread

Since life itself is in fact a Box of Chocolates it is always worth taking the time to close your eyes and see if you can pick one of those orangey-middle ones just by chance.

In that spirit, consider this a frivolously Open Thread to do with what you will.

The Pinnacle Islands

The sweep of history misses the occasional fur-ball like the seven square kilometres of islands central to the current Sino-Japanese naval confrontation over fishery and resource claims by Japan and both Chinas.

There have been a number of activist flag raisings and Coast Guard cutter scrapes among the three claimants to these isolated, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.  It’s a puzzle and there are American fingerprints on whatever ambiguity underlies the dispute, unfortunately, considering the Potsdam Declaration, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender and the United States post-war civil administration of the Ryukyu Islands.

Swing voters, not partisans, are the bane of our system

I hate this point in the election cycle.  We measure every point in the polls in response to big shows like the conventions and (less so) the debates, and responses to economic indicators, external events (both substantial and not), and media narratives of all sorts.

I grant that there are thoughtful moderates and centrists, conscientiously engaged citizens who resist the way the two parties carve up the issues between them.  Fiscal conservatives who resist the fanatic narrowness and hypocritical parsing of Freedom and Liberty often grit their teeth and vote for democrats.  Social conservatives who have a well developed understanding of the necessary interplay of the private and public sectors, who care about poverty and the opportunity promised by public education and our duty to invest in our future often wince as they pull the GOP lever.  And there are those who simply resist deciding which way to compromise their principles and weigh signs of competence and potential in the candidates.  But they are the minority.

Let’s face it.  Most swing voters aren’t independent thinkers or sincere centrists.  They are reality television addicts.  Most people who switch their vote based on a convention acceptance speech, or a sigh in a debate, or a scary headline, or who Brian Williams thinks has the electoral advantage, are shallow idiots who commit little attention to what is at stake.  And most of the last 2 months of the election cycle is spent wooing them.   If you marry a guy that offers you the biggest bouquet of flowers, drives the flashiest car, takes you to the classiest restaurant, has the better eyes, cheekbones, and abs, you’re probably gonna cheat on him with someone else with other “optics” when you get bored.

I really think these people suck.  And our future lies in their hands.  Great that they showed up after the convention came off well.  Now we wait for them to wander off and hope enough of them are lazy enough to stay (the ones who ‘harden’ as voting day gets closer).

But that’s representative democracy for you.  It’s why I still hold on to that mystified belief that liberal arts education can produce a more critically engaged and civil electorate.  That’s my dogma.  At least I admit that it’s such.  Although, an Assistant Professor at MSU just released a study that uses neuroscience (MRI) to prove that critical study of Jane Austen really does make people smarter:…  

I’m not surprised.  Reading and discussing Austen always made me FEEL smarter.  But I still don’t think we have anyway of knowing how this affects citizenship.

Eight State Strategy: Open Thread

So seeing the writing on the wall the Romney/Ryan campaign plans to “carpet-bomb” the airwaves of just eight key states:

Romney is targeting eight states: Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Hampshire. No Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania. This is surely not because Romney is husbanding scarce cash.

Jonathan Chait – Romney’s Playing Field Narrows New York 7 Sep 12

A move potentially worrisome for supporters, such as they are.  It is also strategically defensive and targeting an extremely narrow, one might say daring, margin of victory:

The eight states where Romney is competing add up to a neat 100 electoral votes, of which Romney needs 79 and Obama just 23.

Jonathan Chait – Romney’s Playing Field Narrows New York 7 Sep 12

Romney has basically spent his way through the primaries running round-the-clock broadcast offensives against all comers as the need arose.  And it seemed to work.

Given the current polling while noting that Romney lacks charisma, retail politicking ability, enthusiastic support and has chosen a mendacious opportunist for a running mate, one supposes we are about to witness the first full-scale field test of whether or not it is possible to simply purchase the presidential election.  That and voter suppression are all they’ve got left.