The Debates: My Take

I have now watched the debates twice each and read the transcripts. When I judge, I do not judge by aggression, zingers or campaign jingoism. In fact, on the third count, jingoism, I count that against the candidate who uses it. So debate one was a tie. Debate two was slightly to Romney. Debate three was way to Romney.

In the last two debates, I chose Romney because Obama was going for the cheap shot instead of staying above board.

Cheap shots are for the surrogates and the VPs. Not the Presidential candidates.

Was there deception? Yes, through spin primarily. In debate one, it was even. In debate two the President spun a bit more than Romney. In the third debate, the President spun a lot more. To me, spin is not lying or just misdirection and reinterpretation to fit certain opinions. Many people think spin is lying. I do not.

There were two blatant lies coming from the President (others claim a third, but I don’t think so).

The first is the President did try to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq and at the time felt a small American presence would be in our interests (did you hear the President mumble five-thousand troops). The President simply could not pull it off. SOFA failure is not a big deal, but denying the attempt is problematic.

The US has SOFA agreements with many nations, like Japan and South Korea. These agreements are highly political in the host nations and often the citizenry regrets. The SOFA agreements are renegotiated often. That the President failed in this is not the problem, denying he wanted a SOFA is.

The second untruth the President told was regarding Romney’s position on the GM bankruptcy. It turns out, Romney was not lying about the contents of his New York Times OP-ED. Romney has never called for the liquidation of GM. Other Republicans and a few Democrats did. I wanted bankruptcy proceedings and a renegotiation of all contracts and liabilities. The Times headline said: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” but Romney never said it. The headline was written by the Opinion Editor. Yeah, dirty pool. The President knows better and should not have mislead viewers about what Romney said in his own OP-ED. Romney did say: “But don’t ask Washington to give shareholders and bondholders a free pass — they bet on management and they lost.” Romney felt the stockholders deserved to lose and that is simply because Wall Street investment is a risk and risk-takers need to take their loses. Romney is not saying Detroit needs to flushed down the toilet, only that the stockholders (fellow Republicans for the most part) should take their lumps for tolerating a weak and corrupt management team at GM.

The rest is spin. Romney spun and Obama spun. This is not lying and I’m smart enough to know the difference.

How the President really lost for many people and I thought the President was being patronizing and insulting. I think people saw this and the President will eventually pay for this.

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Middle Class Taxes–Second Presidential Debate

I am listening to the debate again. I like this debate much better.

Moderator. I like Candy Crowley the most. She was more proactive than Lehrer or as psychotic as Raddatz. She did a great job.

Romney. Mitt did a better job in this debate. He was much more clear. I understand what he is saying with his five point plan. I actually agree with them as well, so good on him. I do think Mitt was very rude when did not shake the presidents hand. That was trite.

Obama. The president did much better. I am glad he did, because last time he came across last time as as big a loser as Al Gore (though not as delusional of course). I glad he did not come across as idiotic as Joe Biden. I liked the President’s energy and commitment. I am also very glad the president finally took responsibility for Libya (my comic). However, this took way too long. He should have done this on day one and then used his diplomatic action to speak for him. This is where the president failed in the last month.

My Take. I am giving this one to Romney in spite of his trite behavior at the end of the debate. The President did not focus on the future, but focused on Romney smearing his opponent for the last three minutes. The President was relying on leftist rhetoric about Romney instead of saying what the President will do during the next four years instead of saying “I will not be Mitt Romney.” The President has demanded that Romney be specific, but the President has not shown what the specifics of four more years will be.

The President needs to come forward and say what he is going to other than raise taxes on the rich. I want to know the specifics of how he will be cutting taxes on the middle class. Mr. President reciprocate. DO what you want Romney to do. Be Specific.

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Mitt Romney 4.3.42x (beta)

Princess Leia Organa has every right to be dismayed. How can Mitt R. be a moderate? No the world is ending and the Empire is upon us.

The news is buzzing about how Mitt Romney is a moderate. That should have been blazingly obvious after the last debate. I was surprised back in February when he said he is a severe conservative and drew this comic about it then.

This summer, I drew another comic about this when the Obama campaign was smearing Romney.

My problem with Romney runs along this vein: Mitt Romney reinvents himself in an almost abusive manner. That he is actually a moderate is a plus, but his plastic, malleable nature to his annoying flip-flopperie is something I hate. During the primaries, I was pulling for Huntsman. I think he would have been a great candidate. Romney though is problematic.

Please see: Huffington Post & Wall Street Journal

The Myth of Objectivity–Political or Otherwise

The following is a long response to a comment from Secret Menu I want to include as a regular post:

“The fact is that some policies ARE better than others. It’s not simply a matter of opinion – it’s a matter of what evidence the policies are based on.

“I’m not going to touch the point about states’ rights – that’s ideological. However, it’s not merely ideological to reroute funds from things like military campaigns to education. That’s not money solving everything – that’s money being used to provide real services for people who need them. I worked for a public university for six years, and I’ve seen what funding cuts do. It’s not pretty.

“Also, I’d urge you to read this article about Obama’s bipartisanship, comparing Obama’s actions in office to a list compiled by the moderate conservative writer Peter Berkowitz: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/04/why-did-obamas-bipartisanship-fail.html

“Obama’s failure to fully submit to the constant far right tugging of the past four years is not tantamount to extremism in its own right, and is certainly not tantamount to Bush-era extremism. As with the debate, I just don’t think assumptions about form should not be commuted to content. And since I’m a college professor myself (albeit without tenure – thanks, funding cuts!), I’ve decided to read your penultimate comment as glib rather than anti-intellectual. Suffice it to say, professors act the way they do because they have been held to an objective, universal standard of empirical engagement that compels them to argue their ideas against an existing canon of evidence and analysis. And that’s exactly how I’ve been approaching my vote in this election.

“Our leaders are only as creative as the citizenry they govern. When more of us stop viewing financial gain and materialism as virtues, I imagine our government will follow suit.”

A very close friend with a Ph.D. in Poetry, Laura Hamblin at Utah Valley University, wants me to go for an MFA in poetry. I’ve been thinking about her opinion, but I might go for a Ph.D. in Rhetoric & Composition instead. Another friend, Brian Birch, at UVU thinks I could do both. The only thing holding me back is employability, the future of higher education and practical impact I could have. Right now, I see that I might better effect high school students by helping them sharpen their writing, close reading and philosophical lenses. One of the ways to do this to help students understand the delusion and myth of objectivity.

Politically, Laura and Brian are liberal. I don’t care, but freshmen right out of high-school do and are attracted by it. Politically, neither are objective and academically they are far from objective. Laura is a second-wave, green feminist/post-modernist and Brian follows Wittgenstein. This is important to know when one is looking for mentors. Knowing the same about politicians is equally important.

So I read the article by Berkowitz. I’ve read him before. I like the Weekly Standard. Neo-Conservatism is extremely fascinating. In the article, a graph shows the direction Republicans are going, Democrats are going and the where the House of Representatives is going. Where the parties are going is meaningless, where the aggregate of the House is going is important. The entirety of the house is re-elected every two years. The aggregate of the House very fairly represents the nation and was designed to be that way. Knowing this is as important as knowing where professors are politically and academically.

The nation is 40% conservative, 21% liberal, 35% moderate and 4% unknown http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/conservatives-single-largest-ideological-group.aspx. 59% of Americans consider themselves fiscally conservative and socially liberal http://libertarianmajority.net/libertarian-polling. In this spectrum, where do the candidates sit? Next, does the political base of either group approve of fraternization with the enemy?

Mitt’s record is fiscally-moderate and socially-moderate (why the evangelicals and tea-party will be voting while holding their noses). The President is fiscally-liberal and newly socially-liberal. This is public domain because it has been repeated so often in the media it is ubiquitous. Also: if Mitt were truly fiscally-conservative, Ron Paul would have endorsed him. Paul still refuses to.

The political base of the Republican party hates bi-partisanship. This is why the President focused on Romney’s bi-partisan record in Massachusetts during the debate. As a political moderate, I love bi-partisanship. I want it. I demand it. While I think Romney’s bi-partisanship is a giant plus, the right does not. The right does not want to cooperate with the left, they want the left to see the light, come to their senses and convert to the truth. That is why since Newt, the conservative House of Representatives is so combative with the left. To counter this, the left retreats to an attitude of reasonableness implying the right is incapable of such. This is another example of patronizing behavior. Reason, truth and logic are matters of social experience and perspective and are thus relative. As such, political truth does not exist. And so, acting reasonably is pretentious.

This is why educators are not trusted by the public in general (IMO).

If political truth does not exist and since moderate America could care less about “truth,” politicians then need to then focus on the actual. Government is in debt. People do not have jobs. Everyone knows someone who simply gave-up trying to find work. Many people, particularly the middle-class, lost big in the downturn. The middle-class, overall, could care less about green cars or green energy, they just want to get from point A to point B, fill up their SUVs and to be able to pay their bills. Life for the middle-class sucks. VP Biden just admitted this this week. The middle-class wants a return to the status-quo. President Obama has not been able to do this and no one is fooled when he says he cares about the middle-class. The right, however, lacks credibility just as much as the President. The extremity of both sides right now is distasteful, but true representative choice is simply not available or even possible.

Objectivity is mythical. The undecided middle know the President is to the left and Romney is to the right. Professors Hamblin and Birch at UVU are not objective and recognize the canon is not either. Keep in mind, both are in the humanities, so the idea of objectivity in academics is completely nonsensical to them and they do not have a problem with relativity in the canon. I teach high school students this when I can. What I tell them is to approach the actual as often as possible through what statistics and analysis are provided, expose the structures within a text and/or concept and then debunk the structure as ridiculous if possible. If the ridiculous is not possible then show how it violates an existing moral code like the ideals Professors Hamblin and Birch hold or any other the students might know of. In my mind, it does not matter which moral code one uses since all moral codes are suspect, relying on the delusion of assumed truth/reason/logic.

No policies are better than another, they only reflect moral-coding. No policy can be objectively seen as better. Policies must succeed at what the public wants. Right now the public wants jobs, middle-class security and growth and smaller, more efficient government and most don’t care if the rich have to pay a bit more in either taxes or collapsed tax-loopholes.

The constitution dictates state’s rights. The constitution is a text and is a creature of perspective. If states had the balls and money to do it, they could successfully reclaim almost every federal program and department except those required by the constitution. Most people, me included, are comfortable with federal control of many programs, but by doing so, I am saying the federal government can do things better than local government. Since truth is relative, insisting one practice, POV or policy is better than another is patronizing.

Bi-partisanship is the demand of only the moderate minority. The right is not at all interested and honestly, nor is the left.

The last thing is that creativity is the only solution, but not the creativity you and I like. I write (and occasionally publish) poetry and draw comics, but this type of creativity is not going to help the US economically. We need political and economic creativity to elevate not only the United States, but also the world even if society in general sees economic success as a virtue.

So what about you and me. I am on the cusp of a decision. I must decide by January 1, 2013 if I become a regular high-school teacher or pursue a career in higher-education.

Universities are running out of money, but are still building gigantic buildings. Schools are doing this because legislatures could care less about professors and academics, but have great relationships with real-estate agents and construction contractors. Poets and philosophers do not spend that much time playing golf. University administrators play well and often and with legislators and the business community. The legislature of almost any state would rather cut tenure, chairs, professorships, programs, research and the arts instead of hurt their relationships with business. Besides, all professors do is bitch, refuse to cross the aisle and attempt to understand what makes an uneducated, politically conservative republican contractor think without being didactic, patronizing and pretentious and then refuse to help said contractor continue to do what every republican wants: make money.

This is the kind of creativity that is needed. Neither Romney or Obama is providing it.

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The First Presidential Debate

I watched the debate and read the transcripts two times. Both candidates were spinning and shoving exaggerations down each other’s throats. Both candidates look good. Both candidates are eloquent in their own ways. I think the president won by not calling Romney a murderer or a tax-evader. Had he done so, he would have lost out right. Romney won by showing he stopped the president on quite a few points from hammering too much on talking points that can not be verified. The president lost by being defensive, peevish and patronizing. Romney lost by failing to be as clear as possible about why undecided voters like me should fire the president.

Character. I like President Obama though he tends to be a bit patronizing. I find Governor Romney twerpy at best and snobbish at worst. The president is definitely a much more likeable person. I however will never vote for someone because I like them. The more I hear from the media about how cool or likable the president is, the more I move to the Romney camp. Likability shows the shallowness of the electorate or that we watch way too much Honey Boo Boo and crap like that.

Surrogates. I really think the President should fire David Axelrod and tell Debbie Wasserman Schultz to shut up. No reasonable person trusts either one of them and at the same time, Romney needs to tell Karl Rove and Governor Sununu to shut up or stay out of the media because no one trusts them either. The character of the candidate’s surrogates are defining the candidates. Axelrod and Sununu and Baghdad Bob all have the same truth handicaps. These paid liars make Romney and Obama look like liars themselves.

If the President fires Axelrod, I’ll vote for him. If Romney submits complete detailed tax-returns, I’ll vote for him. Since this won’t be happening either way, I am stuck muddling through.