Monday, November 5, 2012

Since you started it, here is my prediction.

OK, Atticus, Since you started it, I'll take the bait and give you my predictions. While we agree so often, it is like we are of one mind, it is hard to imagine my disagreeing with you. I do, however, think you are wrong in your conclusion. And as you are inclined to be very defensive about it, I will lay out my argument in short and simple terms.
For starters, of the total of 538 electoral votes available, due to redistricting based on the recent census, if the two parties split the states the same way they did four years ago, the President will lose nearly 20 electoral votes. This would however still give the president the victory.
That said, there are several things that lead me to believe that while it may be a narrow victory, I think the President will go the way of Jimmy Carter. I've given you this reasoning before and you still don't believe me. I'll say it again here one more time so that everyone else can see me make my argument and you will not be able to say, "You never told me that."
I credit the 2008 Obama victory to Steve Jobs, God rest his soul, and his invention, the iPhone. Barack Obama did an excellent job using the new technologies of facebook and twitter four years ago when these were new means of communication and accessible mobily via the also new iPhone. This led to a brand new group of voters who had no experience in politics or reading political propaganda. They took then Senator Obama at his word, listened to the great oratory of the senator from Illinois and turned out in droves to campaign and vote for this amazing man.
While this is what led to his astonishing victory over whoever the pachyderms presented, this has also been the source of his fall from fame. As other politicians, news sources, bloggers and average layperson became familiar not only with how to drink from this new propaganda fount but how to publish, these virgin political junkies started drinking from other fountains. When they realized there was other food to be had, in addition to the candy they had been stoked up on, they started eating meat and vegetable and the same cynicism that pushed them to believe in the Pied Piper led them to doubt. When the snake oil salesman left them with a bottle of artesian well water, they became disillusioned. Even though the Android users would like you to believe that the iPhone addict is a mindless follower of Guru Steve, they are still very much independent thinkers.
As they drank and ate more of this free information and began filtering drivel and attempted to distill the truth, they gradually started leaving the piper and began beating their own drum. Evidence of this is the decline of the prophet Michael Moore, that culminated during the recall in Wisconsin. The state that Barack had just easily won came under siege by these radical leftist fundamentalists. They poured everything they could into the state and the recall wasn't even close.
I will wrap up this annecdotal proposition with this final few pieces of evidence. Millions who voted for the first time in their lives will not vote again for two reasons, they haven't made it a habit to stay informed and vote and they are not motivated to get out and vote the way they were last time. Additionally, you will encounter people all across America who voted for this President the last time who are ashamed that they voted for him and say that they will adamantly, now that they feel more educated, vote against him. You have not heard of a single person who voted for the Elephant in the last election who says they will change and vote for they Mule this time.

Give Wisconsin to Romney. Florida also goes Republican as does North Carolina. Both states have seen substantial losses in the democrat to republican ratios. Don't be surprised if Colorado and Iowa both go to Romney. I give Romney Pennsylvania due to the Presidents treatment of fossil fuels industries. I think it will come down to turnout and based on erosion of the base of 2008 Obama supporters and lack of enthusiasm.

Finally, I think the real shocker of the night will be the narrow margin in which the president will win in Illinois. The President won in 2008 by 25% a recent poll in the middle of October had the his lead cut to 7%.

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Fearless Election Eve Prediction

Being the sort that I am I'll be riveted to the television and laptop watching each tiny precinct percentage uptick to see what's going to happen.

What do I think will happen? I'm not convinced that the polls are overly biased toward President Obama, but I'm also not yet past the results in Wisconsin recently that were significantly outside the margin of error. If all the state polls are as poorly done as those in Wisconsin were then it'll be a quick and joyful night for Governor Romney. If not, it will be a long night for both.

I'm thinking long night and the tiniest of wins for the incumbent. My electoral college prediction courtesy's build your own map:

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Persecution and Perspective

Last Saturday, during a boring second half of football, my friend Soren reminded me of a time I was making a case for Christians thinking they were persecuted when, in reality, they were just sensitive to criticism. My case being that Christians are the dominant religion of this country, the Republican Party bends over backward for them and, well, they are still in charge (unless one thinks President Obama is a closet Muslim...and Soren might think that). I don't think Soren agrees with me on this point. There was something about Maplethorpe's depiction of Jesus on the cross in a jar of urine and the Christian reaction versus the Muslim fringe insanity about a movie figuratively urinating on the character of Muhammad.

Regardless, this idea of persecution came to mind again yesterday as I was driving back to work. I didn't recocognize the man talking on the radio. Later, they'd say it was Mark Bitman and that didn't help me. He must have been a foodie because he was talking about the idealic Parisian bistro and personal napkins in cubbies. I was interested. Then talk turned to a recent Stanford study suggesting the organic food was no more nutritious than other food.

Mark would go on to say that he thought the study was wrong because it didn't take into account the health benefits of not having pesticides on your food as well as the health of workers in the field and the general sustainability of food production. Of course, what I heard was an attack on food manufacturing. As a man employed for quite some time by one of the country's largest food manufacturers, indeed, in the end of the business with the least glamour and the most persecution from activists, I was offended by his lack of perspective and railing against the industry that keeps everyone fed for the lowest price of any industrialized nation. I was incensed at his narrow understanding of how hungry the world will be when we go organic and crop yields fall dramatcally, livestock die of trivial diseases and food prices soar faster than health care costs.

Then I thought, "Maybe I've lost perspective like Soren and his fellow Christians. Maybe I see attacks where there are none."

It could be that this gentleman had no problem with the food industry. He could have just been a fan of organic. Mind you, his predilection for organic makes it easy for him to dismiss the macroeconomic arguments about organic farming. He also doesn't have my perspective. And I don't have the Christian perspective. I get dozens of industry emails and magazines each month. I see all the urban newspaper editorials decrying lean finely textured beef, gestation crates, processed foods, multibillion dollar food companies and the sorry lot of folks that work for them. I feel the persecution that others may not even notice is happening.

Truth has become murky. It's colored by my feelings about losing my job. Soren's views of Muslim riots is equally filtered by his perspective of a calm, helpful and nonviolent network of Christian churches. The modern world is designed to accomodate whatever truth we choose. Objective truth has been lost. We want everything our own way and when it comes to information, we can filter out everything detestable to us without effort or thought.

A final thought on this point - I watched the Nebraska U.S. Senate election debate between State Senator Deb Fischer and former Senator Bob Kerrey. I don't like Deb Fischer. As you may have guessed from earlier posts, this stems from my distaste for the tea party. This obviously colored my view of the debate. Most striking to me, though, was the twin ideas of Ms. Fischer that we can balance the budget without raising taxes and save Medicare. She wants everything her way and this leaves no room for truth. Medicare cannot be saved without raising taxes. Actually, it can. You can start killing old people. This won't get Ms. Fischer elected though. Tell the senior citizens you'll keep doling out checks. Tell the younger folks you'll lower their taxes. That you can do what? Deb Fischer will be a US Senator and that's what matters most to Deb Fischer.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Welcome back, dear friends. I wish I could say the time away has left me rested and refreshed. Alas it has not.

While Atticus debates whether he aligns with the Tea Party and whether he will support its candidates, I will ask the question of, ‘Why the Tea Party?’ ‘What relevance does it have?’ and ‘Why now?’ Is it a populist movement? Or is it a revival? Is it the awakening or the dying breath of a great Muse. Let us hope we find more answers than questions.


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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tea Party Beliefs

One of the more appealing and also destructive parts of the tea party movement is it's lack of central organization.

Think you like the tea party then start up your own organization in the basement. Any wacky, half cooked line of reasoning will suffice.

The California wing of the tea party movement appears to be at The Tea Party has "15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs", to wit:

1. Illegal aliens are here illegally.
     And illegal drugs are taken illegally. Exceeding the speed limit is driving illegally. And this is one shoddy core belief. It saddens me that number one on the list of core belief is a statement of the obvious and not a belief at all.

2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
     Indispensable to what? I'll agree that jobs are important, but the age of isolationism is gone and never to return.

3. A strong military is essential.
     Again, essential to what? Just to have lying around. Of course, it is a form of pro-domestic employment. Until we ship them overseas and then I get confused.

4. Special interests must be eliminated.
     And replaced with not so special interests. Everybody is a special interest. Some just have money and organization. Come to think of it, wouldn't the tea party be a special interest group that is especially interested in these 15 oversimplified core "beliefs".

5. Gun ownership is sacred.
     I'm an athiest and even I'm offended.

6. Government must be downsized.
     Agreed. Maybe. Does this mean no more funding for roads, parks, museums? Is there no part of government that's worthy...oh yes, the military.

7. The national budget must be balanced.
     Agreed again. We are on a roll now. Of course, I was saying this back when everyone was saying that the deficits were sustainable at the level of GDP percentage. Those were Republicans with a Republican in the White House wanting to spend money on their pet projects. Suddenly the Republicans are all cost conscious when the Democrats are in charge.

8. Deficit spending must end.
     Didn't you just say that. (See #7) I wouldn't have minded had there only been 14 core beliefs. Really, 14 is just fine.

9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
     Credit for not stating the obvious. Of course, Congress does make the laws and so I guess Congress decides whether bailouts are legal. Congress voted for the bailout, ergo, bailouts are legal. And before you get testy about it, the Supreme Court decides whether the legal act of bailing out is constitutional.

10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must.
     My income taxes really aren't that bad. Could you do something about Social Security and Medicare taxes, though.

11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
      I've sung this song already, but mandatory for what? For increasing business profits that can go to investing in business expansion and higher dividends? that what you are trying to tell me. I don't understand how this can be non-negotiable when you are not even telling me what you mean. How many more of these are there?

12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
     I'm a bit of snob. I don't want average citizens. The American average is a low, low bar.

13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
     Amen! (Wait...I'm athiest.)

14. English as our core language is required.
     It would make things way more convenient for me since I only really speak English. I dabble in Spanish, though, because god fearing, English speaking Americans won't work for a company with 19,000 domestic jobs, full benefits, pensions, profit sharing, an average salary that twice minimum wage but Spanish speaking, legal immigrants will.

15. Traditional family values are encouraged.
     Finally, encouragement. Not much for a non-negotiable core belief when it's just encouraging, but there it is. If only I knew what a traditional family value was. 

And that is why I don't like the Tea Party.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is the Tea Party my cup?

On the face of it I should be a tea partier.

Constitutional originalism, small government, low taxes, balanced budgets ... what's not to like?

Personalities. Tone. Single mindedness.

At it's grass roots core, I'm all there. When it's upset the establishment apple cart, again, I'm there. When it makes a stand for what is, in its view, right - yes, sir - all in.

And as a populist political movement, the tea party makes sense. But not it's candidates.

I don't care for the subtle hyprocrisy of the tea party endorsed candidates. Why would someone whose views inform them that government is bad then spend so much time and money to be part of government? To reduce their power and influence? To render meaningless all that ambition and work?

The superstars of the tea party movement are riding on the wave of a populist movement and like in any form of populism, the people lose. An elite few funnel the rage of the downtrodden many into personal gain and nothing changes but the names on the office door.

I fear that the tea party is no more and no less than the established parties - it is populated by candidates saying what needs to be said to get elected and stay elected. Power above all else. Winning a race, winning a vote and winning the news cycle being the object, not making America and Americans better.

In short, I think the people that make up the tea party are being duped by the candidates that they endorse and the big money operating behind the scenes.

And I think Deb Fischer is part of it. I think she's an extreme partisan that traded and withheld votes to get what she wanted. She played to win. Born and raised in Lincoln and returning there over and over again to go to school or to be in the Legislature, the story we are told is she's a rancher from Valentine. Her husband was a rancher from Valentine. She's a politician from Lincoln.

Deb Fischer is also the Republican candidate for Nebraska's open Senate seat. She rode the tea party movement to the doors of the Senate. Does she really care about Nebraskans? Does she really care about the future of this country? Or does she simply care about winning? I don't know.

My gut says I shouldn't like her. My gut says that anyone endorsed by Sarah Palin is instantly disqualified. My gut says it is all branding and marketing and I want no part of her or the tea party.


Next up, a look at "Core Beliefs" of one tea party group.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Time to Start Again

We started this blog a long time back to discuss the political topics of the day, but life got in the way as it so often does.

I may not have any more time now than I did then, but presidential politics is churning again and I'm starting to think it's time to fire up the engine of debate.

Over the weekend I uttered the words, "I don't agree with the Tea Party," as I made cause for voting against Deb Fischer for Senate. Later, I wondered why I don't. And that has brought me back here.

Soon enough I'll explore whether I truly dislike Deb Fischer, the Tea Party or both.

- Atticus

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