Politics and Stuff

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging much lately. That’s partly because this is an especially busy time of the semester. Try grading a thousand midterm exam problems in a few days and see how many brain cells you have left over for blogging. Mostly, though, it’s my general unhappiness with the way the Presidential election is going.

I think it’s pretty likely that Romney is going to win. For the moment Obama is still maintaining his firewall in Ohio, but the polls have tightened there considerably. Meanwhile, Florida seems to be solidly red at this point, and the polls in my own state of Virginia are not headed in the right direction. Even more worrisome is that the polls have tightened considerably in the Virginia senate race between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen. Kaine clings to a two-point lead, but that’s way down from previous polls.

Over the summer I felt certain that Romney would win. I was resigned to that fact. The economy was just too weak, the Democrats too spineless, and Romney too evil, for there to be much hope. Then the Democrats managed to pull off a good convention and Romney started making one mistake after another. My gloom lifted. But those days are long gone. Obama face-planted in the first debate, and suddenly no one is describing the Romney campaign as a “rolling calamity” any more. This all fits well with my generally gloomy view of the world, in which evil always triumphs. If it temporarily seems like good is winning, that’s just evil’s way of making it’s eventual triumph all the more satisfying.

The problem for Democrats, in this as in every election, is that the Republicans claim a majority of the stupid vote, and in this country that’s a very large voting block indeed. Forgive me, did I say the stupid vote? I meant the low-information voters. Here is an example of what the Democrats are up against:

Voting for a president is based on a combination of factual and emotional perception. The tipping point was last week’s debate in Denver. Romney finally did what he should have done all along instead of his balky cha cha with the old white men of the conservative Republican wing: he acted as the moderate he is, for the first time running as himself, not against himself, embracing his record as governor of Massachusetts….

At the debate, Romney did not simply act like he wanted to be president. He wants to be president. He showed vigor, and enthusiasm, and excitement, a man who wants to lead. It may all be ephemeral, because most of politics is ephemeral, a cynical means to the end of getting elected. But he also revealed compassion that, during the entirety of this absurdly long march, had never been in evidence before. He recognized the needs of the poor. He recognized the need for regulation…. (Emphasis Added)

I believe that Romney’s move to the center is not yet another flip-flop sleight of hand, perhaps naively. I believe he will send to the political Guantanamo those dirty old white men of the party ready to bomb Iran (speaking of wars, are we out of Afghanistan yet, despite our so-called allies killing our soldiers? See Obama policy).

That was Buzz Bissinger, a writer and talk show host. That bold face remark is interesting, don’t you think? At the first debate, with millions of people watching, for the first time in a very long campaign, Romney showed some compassion. And Bissinger decides on that basis that it was everything else that Romney said during the campaign that was motivated by political expediency? That’s what I mean by the stupid vote. If you vote for Romney because you actually want a fanatically right-wing government to be running the show, well, OK then. But if you vote for him because you think that he’s a moderate who is going to stand up to the extremists in his own party, then you’re stupid.

I am a political junkie. When I am home I pretty much always have one of the news channels on. (Usually MSNBC, occasionally CNN, but Fox is just unwatchable.) I check HuffPo and Nate Silver’s blog many times a day. The slightest polling uptick for Romney or downtick for Obama sends me into a funk. Spend a few minutes pondering the horror of a Romney administration, and suddenly another round of atheoblogging or going on about scientism seems a bit trivial. In fact, lately I’ve been forcing myself to follow things a bit less closely. I spent the second debate at the movies. (I saw Argo. Great movie!) It wasn’t enough just to say I won’t watch it, I had to be physically out of the house. When I came home I checked a few political websites, saw that Obama had done well, and then watched the late-night rerun of the debate. I’ve been saving Paranormal Activity 4 for Monday’s debate. On election night itself I might need a double feature.

But who knows? Maybe I’m being too gloomy. The swing state polls and electoral college math are still in Obama’s favor. Iowa and Wisconsin seem to be solidly in the Obama camp, and those two plus Ohio are all he needs from the swing states. And Virginia could well go the right way in the end. There’s only one poll that matters, after all, and election day will be here soon enough…

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Esres
    October 21, 2012

    The only positive spin I can put on this is that perhaps 4 years of an even more radical right-wing government will expose exactly what they are, and stiffen the spines of the progressive elements of society. Plus, we’ll get another few graduating classes of “nones”.

  2. #2 TylerD
    October 21, 2012

    Obama started out as pretty much even money to win the election and, towards the end, he’s back to even money.

    So far there is nothing really to indicate that there will be a robust recovery after the election either way. Households are still way overleveraged, growth is weak, and employment growth has been substandard in addition to being mostly in low-paying and part-time service sector jobs. There is a good case to be made that gas and food prices are putting a firm ceiling on the amount of growth we can expect.

    Which is all to say, even if Romney wins he will still inherit a very bad situation. It’s not like he’s inheriting a robust recovery that will guarantee his reelection.

  3. #3 Nick Matzke
    October 21, 2012

    Yeah, you’re being too gloomy. The only thing worth following is this: http://electoral-vote.com/evp2012/Pres/ec_graph-2012.html

  4. #4 Kevin
    October 21, 2012

    Romney is evil?

    So the reason you have not been blogging so much is that you are currently on another planet?

  5. #5 coby
    October 22, 2012

    Just in case your pessimism starts to lift, don’t forget all the voter suppression that is in the works!

  6. #6 Valhar2000
    October 22, 2012

    It seems Jason and I are of the same mind. I have also been saying for a while now that I believe Romney will win, and I do so because I have faith the ability of the american public to make the worst possible decision.

  7. #7 SLC
    October 22, 2012

    Re Kevin

    There may be some question as to whether Romney is evil but there is no doubt or question that many of his advisers are evil. Case in point, Robert Bork who tells us that the First Amendment only covers political speech, not other speech such as that in scientific publications.

  8. #8 eric
    October 22, 2012

    Hypothetically Romney could win FL, OH, and VA and still lose; that would bring him to 266 when he needs 270. In contrast, just FL alone would give Obama 266.

    No prediction here; I have no idea whose going to win. But I’d still give Obama a slight edge just based on the fact that Romney would almost have to sweep the toss-up states to win. Any sort of middling split is going to result in an Obama victory.

  9. #9 Greg Esres
    October 22, 2012

    Nate Silver still says Obama is most likely to win.

  10. #10 eric
    October 22, 2012

    Jason, it appears a GOP-linked organization has been trashing JMU voter registration forms, rather than turning them in as legally required. Link.

    Here’s hoping nobody you know was defrauded by this, but you may want to tell your students to check their vote registration status (I’m assuming this doesn’t affect you since you’ve been at the same place for years).

    Link provided via Ed Brayton’s blog.

  11. #11 Todd
    October 22, 2012

    Ha Ha Ha Ha
    Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. How many more trillions of debt and millions of lost jobs are you guys looking for before you might decide we are on the wrong track. The amazing thing is that the race is even this close. Here is something to brighten your day: as a conservative I am very worried that despite the promising trends over the last several weeks, the real stupid vote will win the day in November.
    Flame away cloistered crybabies.

  12. #12 Todd
    October 22, 2012

    Oh, and just to preempt any any nonsense on economics, please see: http://economistsforromney.com/
    Argue with them about who would be better for the economy.

  13. #13 SLC
    October 22, 2012

    Re Todd

    Ah gee, economists for Rmoney. Much like scientists for anti-evolution and scientists for anti-global warming.

  14. #14 Todd
    October 22, 2012

    Yea – 6 nobel laureates douchebag. Maybe you should look at the site first. Please reference me to your sites.

  15. #15 Blaine
    October 22, 2012

    As other economists have pointed out, this is a balance sheet recession. Everyone is paying down debt. We are awash in money. No one wants anymore. Interest rates are almost zero. In this situation, the gov’t has to be the borrower and spender of last resort. Norquist, too busy whiping spittle off his chin to think, wants us to pursue Reagan’s policies…but let’s see. Interest rates were in the high teens, taxes were much higher and the deficit was not nearly as high. What happened? Rates fell – a huge stimulus. Taxes fell – a huge stimulus. Unfunded spending rose – a huge stimulus.
    There are only 4 levers to stimulate the economy:
    Monetary Policy: Interest rates, quantitative easing or tightening
    Fiscal Policy: Taxes, Spending.

    We don’t have 3 of the 4 levers Reagan had. Real rates are effectively 0 and in some cases negative ( short term ). Taxes are at historically low levels and quantitative easing won’t work because no one wants the money. We are left with unfunded gov’t spending. That is the only stimulus available. My fear is that a Romney administration will pursue a policy to balance the budget and send us into a depression a la 1937…not to mention another war in middle east.

  16. #16 Blaine
    October 22, 2012

    @Coby
    “Just in case your pessimism starts to lift, don’t forget all the voter suppression that is in the works!”

    And thankfully you’re not a woman so you don’t have to worry about your private parts being probed…conservatives love probing other people’s privates

  17. #17 Greg Esres
    October 22, 2012

    Ah gee, economists for Rmoney. Much like scientists for anti-evolution and scientists for anti-global warming.

    Yes. And like creationists, Todd projects a faux-confidence in lieu of a genuine interest in the truth.

  18. #18 Blaine
    October 22, 2012

    I’m listening to the rotted corpse ( aka Romney ) whom Chris Matthews said we need to pour cement in so he won’t fall over…Like most CEOs I’ve known, he has a bullet point brain…its too hard for him to actually struggle through a book cuz they’d have to think…How come the Republicans keep the retard known as GW Bush locked in the attic?
    I guess it’s bait and switch. A corpse with a Bush brain.

  19. #19 Todd
    October 23, 2012

    The Chris Mathews who gets tingles up his leg at the mere sight of his savior? Blaine – I seriously doubt you know any CEOs, at least not successful ones. All the ones I know are smart, competent, accomplished, and have good interpersonal skills. Perhaps your failure to detect these traits speaks more to your own familiarity with them. Greg, seems to me and anyone who is not brain dead that it is people like you and SLC that are playing the creationist/climate skeptic here. Economists have clearly broke for Romney in this election as they did for Obama in 2008. You might recall there was a website called economists or Obama in 2008. You might also recall this was fairly well publicized in the press. This site is no longer active because the guy who ran it no longer supports Obama. Anyone who has looked into this knows economists overwhelmingly support Romney in this election (interestingly, the Obama supporters, I mean main stream press, do not seem to think this is worth reporting unlike their view in 2008). We have a clear majority of experts in a field saying Romney’s policies would be better for the ecomomy – I guess that makes you and your ilk the brain dead, faith driven, irrational, backwards, inbred, economy skeptics, right? I cant wait to clean my dirty laundry with all the tears of left wing sorrow that will be flowing in the streets Nov. 6.

  20. #20 SLC
    October 23, 2012

    Re Todd the schmuck

    Gee, ole Todd lists 6 Nobel Prize winning economists supporting Romney. Here’s a list of 68 Nobel Prize winning scientists who are supporting Obama.

  21. #21 Todd
    October 23, 2012

    Your post has no list. But I know the list you speak of and it is not a list of economists douchebag. I repeat, experts in the field of economics overwhelmingly support Romney for his economics platform. I will take your list under consideration if you agree to abide by the consensus of economists on biology issues. What a maroon (that is purposeful spelling).

  22. #22 SLC
    October 23, 2012

    Re Todd the putz

    I did post a link to the list afterwards but apparently the comment got lost. However, here’s the link

    thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/nobel-laureates-endorse-obama/

    Having a lot more respect for scientists then for economists, I have no trouble accepting the opinions of the former over the opinions of the latter. And by the way, apparently tipsy Todd is unaware that there is no Nobel Prize for biology, not surprising for a Koch brothers sockpuppet like him.

  23. #23 Todd
    October 23, 2012

    Everything seems to go right over your head. Had I known how dense you were I would have dumbed down my posts. Your posts, on the other hand, are nonsensical. But just so I get this straight, according to your leftist addled brain, If we take your position to its logical extreme, we should not have any economics departments at universities since any scientist in any field intuitively knows more about economics than an economist who spends his life studying it, right? Does this hold for all other non-scientific fields or just economics?. What about between scientific fields: is a physicists’ view of evolution just as valuable as that of an evolutionary biologist, particularly if the physicist won a Noble? Do you realize what a tool you sound like? Perhaps we will get lucky and all your comments will be lost. Adios Douche

  24. #24 Greg Esres
    October 23, 2012

    Todd wrote:

    experts in the field of economics overwhelmingly support Romney for his economics platform.

    No, they don’t. You have a list of a few economists that do. Have you sampled the entire population of economists? I suspect not.

    The argument is silly and is only persuasive to people who have already bought into the conclusion for other reasons, much the same as creationists.

    BTW, most of the statements about Obama on that site are significant misrepresentations of fact, which no person of intellectual integrity could endorse.

  25. #25 Kevin Dowd
    October 23, 2012

    judging by how the Romney campaign distorts any study or blog post it comes across I doubt that its true…

    Economists agree that cutting taxes does not lead to new job growth, that the stimlus worked and should have been bigger and that the US is nothing like Greece.

    It was said when Romney declared we had given up control of our currency to North American Union and were no longer able to control our own interest rates or money supply.

  26. #26 Kevin Dowd
    October 23, 2012

    left wing site but…

    “Business Economists Agree with Obama, Eviscerate Romney”

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/26/1136486/-Business-Economists-Agree-with-Obama-Eviscerate-Romney

    well respected.

  27. #27 Todd
    October 23, 2012

    Kevin – with all due respect, I think you should read your link closely. It was the authors interpretation that answers in a poll were more in line with Obama’s policies. The economists themselves did not say this. On the other hand, http://www.economistsforromney lists ~670 economists at universities across the country, including 6 nobel laureates in economics, that expressly support Romney over Obama. Likewise, if you do a little searching you can find people that looked into this that found the same thing. I know there was a poll of economists by a major newspaper ~ 1 month ago (dont remember which one) that found something like a 3:1 difference in support (full disclosure, in this case, as I recall, it was not enthusiastic support, but more like the lesser of two evils). Besides Krugman, where are the other 669 economists and 5 other Nobel laureates that support Obama? Can you guys reference any journalist who looked into this and came to a different conclusion? You guys can bury your heads in the sand and say its not true, or you can accept the fact that most economists think Romney would be better for the economy. One could still say they prefer Obama for other reasons, but when one starts saying these 670 economists and 6 Nobel Laureates are idiots and right wing tools they start sounding like conspiracy nuts and creationists (SLC is a case in point).

  28. #28 Greg Esres
    October 23, 2012

    Can you guys reference any journalist who looked into this and came to a different conclusion?

    Can you, beside vague references to an article somewhere, sometime?

    670 is a small fraction of the number of economists in the nation. I think we can safely assume that anyone not on the list supports Obama.

  29. #29 Todd
    October 23, 2012

    A nice assumption for someone who wants to keep their head in the sand, but prove it. Is that an accepted assumption for lists like this? I thought a rationale assumption would be that you would only get the most enthusiastic supporters to go out of their way and sign there name to a list like this, and therefore that it would only be scratching the surface. Are you willing to make the same assumption on letters/lists for things you believe i? In any case, I still think that 670 and 6 Nobel laureates is a pretty big number, and I believe that people like you only believe your blather about accepting expert consensus when it fits your predetermined beliefs. I think it should also give you pause about your information sources – if all you read were Krugman and the times, you would believe that Romney’s economics policies were those of a nutjob. How then to explain 670 Economists and 6 Nobel Laureates disagreeing with this view? I know – bury your head in the sand and keep spouting shit like all the posts above.

  30. #30 Todd
    October 23, 2012

    Newsflash for SLC. Per Greg’s insightful and thoughtful analysis, we can conclude that since there are 291 living Nobel prize winners, and only 68 of the signed the list you referenced, 223 of them support Romney. Thus, Romney is supported over Obama by Nobel laureates >3:1.
    Just as I suspected.

  31. #31 Greg Esres
    October 23, 2012

    A nice assumption for someone who wants to keep their head in the sand, but prove it. Is that an accepted assumption for lists like this

    No, just demonstrating the silliness of your reasoning process. My comment was a joke.

    What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

  32. #32 Blaine
    October 23, 2012

    @Todd

    I should have been more specific since I was referring to Republican CEOs. By bullet point brain, I was referring to the trait of some CEOs of being knowledgeable about current, events, their business domain, and their hobbies, but little else. They are not very well read or broadly read. Ask them about current trends in Continental philosophy and their eyes glaze over. They are rarely engage in critical thinking. The book _The Republican Brain_ aptly describes this type. It’s a great book if you haven’t read it.
    Mitt Romney is a perfect example. Any person who actually believes underwear has special powers, a philandering grifter received golden plates from an angel and then you base your life on it, clearly cannot be taken seriously as an intellectual heavy weight.

  33. #33 proximity1
    October 24, 2012

    RE: Blaine @ October 23, 2012

    I agree with all that–though I have not read the book you mentioned. But I also think that those points apply just as well to the vast majority of CEOs, whatever their political views, and apply to B. Obama as well–though I think that he’s probably better-read than Romney, my reaction is, “So what?” Who isn’t better-read than Romney among those with a shot at the presidency?

    While Romeny “cannot be taken seriously as an intellectual heavy weight” neither can Obama. While walking home last night, I had this thought:

    The White House has been home to many, many mediocre minds. But seldom has the nation been so desperately in need of an imaginative thinker and had, instead, such a heartbreakingly conventional thinker as Barack Obama. Aside from his skin color, he is as utterly conventional a person as the White House has ever known–and it ha

  34. #34 proximity1
    October 24, 2012

    RE: Blaine @ October 23, 2012

    I agree with all that–though I have not read the book you mentioned. But I also think that those points apply just as well to the vast majority of CEOs, whatever their political views, and apply to B. Obama as well–though I think that he’s probably better-read than Romney, my reaction is, “So what?” Who isn’t better-read than Romney among those with a shot at the presidency?

    While Romeny “cannot be taken seriously as an intellectual heavy weight” neither can Obama. While walking home last night, I had this thought:

    The White House has been home to many, many mediocre minds. But seldom has the nation been so desperately in need of an imaginative thinker and had, instead, such a heartbreakingly conventional thinker as Barack Obama. Aside from his skin color, he is as utterly conventional a person as the White House has ever known–and it has known many, many of them.

  35. #35 Enki23
    October 25, 2012

    There is no nobel prize for economics. There’s the Swedish Bank prize in memory of Alfred Nobel.

    Economics is not just a science that asks what is true about the world, or even just what is true about human behavior. We have sciences for that. Economics, instead, asks the question “how do we achieve what we want to achieve.” The values of the economist are intimately tied to his (and it’s nearly always “his”) work. They don’t all want to achieve the same things. Not at all.

    So, Romney has the approval of a small, self-selected group of assholes who are thought to be very good at math showing how we might achieve shitty outcomes. So fucking what.

  36. #36 eric
    October 25, 2012

    proximity 1:

    Aside from his skin color, he is as utterly conventional a person as the White House has ever known–and it has known many, many of them.

    In some ways he’s been highly, unconventionally moderate. AFAIK, Obama is the first president in history* to retain a Sec. Def appointed by the previous administration. That’s regardless of party, and he retained a Sec. Def appointed by the opposing party. That’s not conventional, that’s startlingly different. Its just startlingly moderate.

    *The Sec.Def. position started in 1949, so ‘in history’ in this case means the last 60 or so years. Also, the Sec Defs under Nixon and Kennedy were retained by their replacements; I’m not counting that as a formal appointment.

  37. #37 Blaine
    October 25, 2012

    If Romney wins the election, if he has any intellectual integrity, I fully expect him to dismiss the secret service because they will no longer be needed because his magic underwear will protect him( I mean, when god’s asleep or busy or something, otherwise he should be able to handle it). It will also help save money…like cutting the funding to PBS.

    Traders are betting on an Obama win: roughly 62% right now: http://www.intrade.com/v4/markets/contract/?contractId=743474

    Aggregator site: http://www.predictwise.com/politics/2012presidentindividual

  38. #38 Sancho
    October 28, 2012

    It’s not as if we need to make guesses about how a Republican response to the financial crash would have played out. It’s happening right now in Greece and Ireland.

  39. #39 Dan L.
    October 30, 2012

    @Todd:

    Flame away cloistered crybabies.

    But liberals are the mean, nasty, hateful ones, right?

    Why even bother making arguments after making it so clear that it’s not worth arguing with you?

  40. #40 MNb
    November 7, 2012

    “I think it’s pretty likely that Romney is going to win.”
    Pessimism not always equals realism.

  41. #41 banking interview questions
    http://www.coolinterview.com/
    November 10, 2012

    Good post..!!Thanks for sharing..!!

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