Oct 042012
 

Sorry I’ve been gone for a few days, folks. New content promised is coming, I swear.

Meanwhile, try the new stout. Particularly good barrel, I think.

 

This’ll be brief, but it’s interesting to me, and…well, this is where I write about stuff that’s interesting to me.

Today, in the digesting of the first Presidential debate, we are confronted with the collision of two nearly independent media realms: traditional broadcast, and the newly-risen social media, which have orders of magnitude more penetration, sophistication, and response speed than they did in 2008. And what we’re hearing from those two media realms is, for perhaps the first time ever, sharply divergent in relation to the same single event.

Traditional broadcast media: “Romney won!!!!!”

Social media: “Romney lied like a rug on every major topic he addressed, and here’s documentation.”

Now, don’t get me wrong: Romney swung for the rafters because he had to, Obama played it cautious because he could—but too cautiously, in the end— and so the “optics”, as pols and pundits like to say, were clearly in Romney’s favor. This, too, was noted in the record-breaking avalanche of tweets, liveblog streams and Facebook posts that tracked the debate in real time and continued after it.

But let’s face it: the traditional broadcast media has turned strictly into entertainment, and it needs a competitive horse race. So it was nearly impossible for Romney to lose this debate in their eyes, given how badly they needed him to win it.

What is interesting to me is that the sense I am getting of the emerging gestalt of the debate—the narrative understanding by the mainstream public—is a merging of these two story lines.

In other words: “Mitt Romney won by lying.”

So while Romney’s team feels momentarily invigorated, and the likes of CNN and ABC News happily chatter about a “game changer”, what is percolating into voters’ consciousness is a validation of Obama’s core messages: Romney is untrustworthy. He’ll say anything. He’s Machiavellian, just as he was in business. You’ll never really know what he stands for. You can’t trust him can’t trust him can’t trust him can’t trust him.

It takes awhile for fact-checking to catch up to felt sense. In some ways it never does. But what Romney gave Team Obama last night was a bonanza of tailor-made “after” clips for devastating “before, he said this, but now he says this” spots. Instead of having to reach back to dusty campaign footage no one cares about, now they have Mitt Romney lying his ass off in front of 67 million people…yesterday.

Meanwhile, his “win” doesn’t appear to have moved the needle at all…except among those who were supposed to be his base. And he still has nearly no possible roadmap to 270 electoral votes.

Take a breath, friends.

At publication, the Dragon was NOT WORRYING ABOUT IT

Sep 262012
 

One of the many strikes against Mitt Romney’s candidacy has been a regular drumbeat of complaint by movement conservatives like Redstate’s Erick Erickson that Romney isn’t sufficiently ideologically conservative, that he’s wishy-washy on their issues, that his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts shows he’s too liberal, etc. During the primary season, each of the Non-Romneys du jour took a crack at undermining the Mittster based on this critique.

Sorry, right-wing nutcases, but I’ve got news for you: Mitt Romney is precisely what your party stands for.

In fact, he is a carbon-copy of what your party has nominated in each of the past four Presidential cycles: a privileged, spoiled, morally blank, mean-spirited person driven solely by desire for self-aggrandizement.

Why does it surprise you that Romney will tell you what you want to hear, gainsay it ten minutes later and then deny the contradiction? Republican Presidents have been doing that since Ronald Reagan. At least he had the excuse of dementia (which was denied, of course), but that hardly extends to his many handlers and flaks, who lied cheerfully and liberally, daring the worshiping press to contradict them. Romney is no more mendacious than Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Dana Perino or Scott McClellan were on behalf of Dubya, or than John McCain is when throwing his supposedly stellar principles under the bus for political expediency (this week, it was Our Veteran Hero voting against the Veterans’ Job Act).

The current nominee’s only innovation in this regard is in having shortened the intervals between flip and flop, and not bothering to try some tortured rationalization for why the contradictions are somehow consistent.

This is what you get. This is the natural culmination of having steadily moved your end of the political spectrum away from facts and towards faith, away from thinking and towards ideology, away from public interest and towards self-interest, away from a pluralistic understanding that those who disagree must nonetheless work together to govern, and towards the idea of winning by any means necessary…and if you can’t, making sure the other guys lose.

Mitt Romney is the concentrated essence of what conservatism has become: a no-rules angler for his own interests, all other concerns secondary. A man who cares about nothing but himself.

He doesn’t care about your social issues. Neither did Reagan, or either Bush, or McCain. They mouthed the words and made occasional policy gestures while in office because they figured you were dumb enough for that to keep you on a string, and because they didn’t care about the people that got hurt in the process. There’s no commitment to values there: just Machiavellian pragmatism.

He doesn’t care about your economic philosophy. All he cares about is gaming the system to the greatest degree possible to personally benefit himself and his family. If that means raising taxes on the middle class so the wealthy pay even less, well, hell, let’s tee that right up. There’s no economic philosophy there: just greed.

He doesn’t care about integrity. If making appeals to racial prejudice, campaigning on obvious falsehoods cobbled from out-of-context edited quotes, and working to make it harder for some people to vote will raise his chances of success, he will of course pursue these strategies. There is no core sense of human decency there; Mitt Romney knows to his cold little core that he is The Only Person In The Universe.

There is a word for people like that. They’re called sociopaths. And your movement, your party, your articulated philosophies, your campaign tactics and, yes, your candidates all fit that label nicely.

Mitt hasn’t failed you. Mitt is the absolute essence of you. The mistake you make is in thinking he was supposed to stand for what YOU want, but you have missed the punchline of your own joke: he’s not there for you. He’s there for himself, and himself only.

Which is exactly the direction you have been trying to push the politics of the country for more than thirty years.

You were just too dumb to understand that you could be tossed out in the cold just like the blacks and the gays and the poor and the women and all the other people you don’t care about.

In a world run by sociopaths, you get betrayed just like everyone else. You’re not immune. You’re non-human non-factors whose feelings, interests and aspirations are non-relevant, too.

Welcome to Mitt’s world, suckers.

At publication, the Dragon was REFLECTIVE

Sep 182012
 

As y’all know, I have been posting quite a bit of analysis and opinion about the status of the Presidential race. But with yesterday’s comedic revelation of Little Lord Fauntleroy’s contempt for 47% of the American citizenry, let’s just draw the curtain, shall we?

Between the Keystone Kops announcements of “reboots”, the abortive attempts to hijack tragedy for political gain, and now His Royal Highness’ pooh-poohing of nearly half of the country on tape to his similarly rarefied supporters, I think we can say that the 2012 Presidential is all over but the GOTV.

It isn’t just this latest event, the way the Palin choice doomed any chances McCain might have had. Romney just doesn’t have ANY bright spots. His policy positions—to the degree he has any beyond “Mitt Romney should be President”—are so unpopular he’s had to deliberately obscure them; his supposed business qualifications have been revealed/framed as questionable and morally filthy; the man is personally an awkward, deeply unlikeable, priggish gaffe machine; his running mate is Iago as played by Jim Nabors, and the two of them can’t even come up with a straight story on which of their appalling budget visions they embrace; the foreign trip and his cheerful eagerness to try to score points off the murder of American diplomats has revealed him for the cold-blooded shark he is; his convention combined the excitement of “Waiting for Godot” with the spectacle of Clint Eastwood losing an argument to an empty chair; and his party’s steady pandering to angry, white, low-education males at the expense of all other demographics has left him with a universe too small to win under the best of circumstances…which these are NOT, because despite the best efforts of his party to torpedo the American people’s economic prospects for political gain, it isn’t entirely working.

Meanwhile, they are running against an incumbent with an arm-long record of achievement, against a crew that has a better understanding of how to run a national campaign using today’s tools and media context than any other on the planet, and against a guy who has already had every lie, every distortion, every calumny the right has been able to imagine thrown at him for four years, and is still viewed positively by most of the country. A man who beat *both* national party’s machines in 2008. A man who is almost certainly one of the giants in the history of the American Presidency.

And whose policies appear not only to have pulled the country back from the edge of the disaster teed up by Romney’s party, but also to be slowly helping it to recover. While Romney and Ryan offer only more of the same failed policies, on steroids.

We’re seven weeks out as of today. The perceived narrative of the Romney/Ryan campaign is that they are in disarray, panicking, and throwing the kitchen sink. I do not recall any challenger to an incumbent in a widely-watched election EVER to survive that perception so close to the election and win.

There just aren’t any bright spots for Circus Romney. Obama’s narrow edges in the battleground states have begun to solidify and move out of the margins of error. Now it’s all about how much the headliners of the Greedy Obnoxious Party can drag down the chances of their compatriots downticket.

From here through Election Day at the sign of the Green Dragon, I’ll focus on local politics and Congress. I’d be surprised if I feel a need to say much more about the Comeuppance of Mitt Romney…except perhaps to gloat a bit.

At publication, the Dragon was EXPERIENCING SCHADENFREUDE

Sep 142012
 

Earlier, I wrote in this post my suggestions for how the Obama campaign could thrash Mitt Romney this fall. Thus far, they seem to be thinking along the same lines, and it’s working pretty danged well.

We have the debates coming up soon, which are Romney’s very last, hail-Mary chance to gain any chance of winning. So I’ve been thinking about the debates. I was a successful high school and college debater, and a debate coach and argumentation teacher after retiring from competition. For what it’s worth, here is what I would do if I were in Obama’s shoes.

  1. Keep bringing up–with dates and locations–Romney’s widely varying statements on the issues under discussion, and seeking to clarify how these fit together or which of them he has settled on. In other words, tacitly question his veracity and trustworthiness.
  2. Frame Romney’s tax policies with the analyses showing they must inevitably lead to raising taxes on the middle class. Make him defend them. Make him explain again that “middle income” is $200-250K. Press for specifics in the places he refuses to give them, saying the American people deserve to know specifics to make their choice. Contrast with what he (Obama) has done in cutting taxes for 95% of Americans.
  3. Politely hammer on Romney’s desire to double down on failed Bush/Republican economic policies. Remind him and viewers of the facts on how these policies have screwed everyone but people like…Mitt Romney.
  4. If you really want to put the knife in, contrast this slavish devotion to trickle-down economics with Obama’s willingness to consider ideas from the other side of the aisle…like Governor Romney’s health care initiative in Massachusetts.
  5. On social issues, play the right-and-wrong card, and frame in the context of “freedom”. “I don’t understand, Governor Romney, why you think it’s a bad idea for government to have a say in whether or not banks can deceive consumers on the terms of their credit cards, but it’s a good idea for government to make women’s health care decisions for them. I don’t understand why you think we should be telling Americans who volunteer to risk their lives to serve their country that they aren’t equal under the law, no matter who they love. I just don’t see how that squares with a moral America.”
  6. Show viewers the warmth Romney is incapable of mustering. Be sure to reference the suffering you’ve seen in person and in letters you receive. THAT is the reason you knew it was the right thing to save the automotive industry, restoring a flagship American manufacturing sector providing millions of jobs to profitability, instead of doing as Gov. Romney suggested and “letting Detroit go bankrupt”. Americans are hurting: fewer of them than were hurting in 2008, but far too many nonetheless. You get up every day thinking about how best to give people a chance to get back up on their feet. With the wealthiest richer than ever before, you can’t see any reason to believe that giving them even more money is going to help the situation of the people who write you those letters.
  7. Overall: stay cool and cordial–which will not be a problem for O-Cube–and methodically make Romney mad. Romney comes off as a snotty, insincere, awkward and entitled bully even at the best of times. But because he is accustomed to getting what he wants, he is thin-skinned. When he gets mad, his arrogance and assumption of entitlement go off the scale, and he becomes the classic Hollywood stereotype of the Sociopathic Rich Kid. You want America to see Romney being that guy.

Romney is desperate, and he knows he needs to land some punches in the debates. So he’ll be overreaching with his swings, just as he did with the embassy attack debacle. Just bob and weave, wait for opportunities, and keep stinging him with small shots that contrast your achievements with his empty claims, your commitment to bettering the country with his opportunistic flip-flopping and self-interested policies.

Get him steaming. Do that, and the man will defeat himself.

At publication, the Dragon was CONFIDENT