Friday, September 21, 2012

When Facts Don't Matter

Romney and his supporters are being done in by facts or more precisely their disdain for facts, truth, justice, and -- dare I say it? -- the American way.  There are however intellectual enterprises of real value in which facts get in the way. For example Charles Babbage to Tenyson on truth and beauty:


In your otherwise beautiful poem "The Vision of Sin" there is a verse which reads – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment one is born." It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death.

I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1 1/16 is born."

The actual figure is so long I cannot get it onto a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.

I am, Sir, yours, etc.,

Charles Babbage
Romney out to give poetry a whirl when is being president of these United States doesn't pan out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Reason Romeny is Losing

Men and women on the Right aren't very bright. Here, for example is Ross Douthat burbling on about Romeny's most recent assault on his fellow citizens:
The way Obama and Romney employed these stereotypes are not actually equivalent. Both behind-closed-door comments were profoundly condescending, but only Romney explicitly wrote off the people he’s describing. As Slate’s William Saletan notes, Obama embedded his bitter- clingers characterization in a longer riff about why it’s important for Democrats to keep fighting for blue-collar votes. Romney’s remarks were more dismissive and therefore should prove more politically damaging: “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said, of millions of his fellow countrymen, and left it at that.
He then asks that we
set aside the short-term politics for a moment. What does it say about our culture that the people funding presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle seem to regard their downscale fellow countrymen as a kind of alien race, to be feared and condescended to in equal measure? 
The obvious idiocy of this "argument" is that Romney first blames the mythical  47% and they writes them off while Obama see's the creation of narrow minded bigots as a failure of public policy and outreach and demands that we do better. The "short-term" politics are likely to be less important than now might seem to be the case.

 However, the longer-term political implications are that the left-half of the neoliberal political world is going to continue to try and ameliorate the ravages of market capitalism, albeit insufficiently and sporadically, while trying to convince their fellow citizens to be less bigoted and fear-filled.

This dynamic, indeed, helps to explain the decline of the Republicans as a national party and their increased reliance on voter suppression and lies.

Romney Dead Man Walking?

According to Think Progress he is:
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced Thursday morning that he would step down as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s campaign to become the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade organization that represents the 100 largest financial services companies in the country.
Pawlenty might be a wretched little man, but he has so far shown the wisdom of a quitter who knows when he is beat.

There at The New Yorker

I was going to write something about the bipolar nature of the current New Yorker. There is dishonest and disingenuous article by Malcolm Gladwell on the Penn State child raping debacle and great essay by Jill Lepore on the roots of modern corporate conservatism's inability to tell the truth. The problems with Gladwell's article, however, have been laid out here  and his essential dishonesty and mendacity here, here, and here.  

Lepore delves into a now obscure PR firm and lays bare the roots and consequences of several decades of the Right and corporate America to use lies, astroturfing, and smears ton smother popular desires for universal medical insurance and, by extension, nearly ever desirable reform of market capitalism and the society on which it feeds.

One of the understated aspects of the article is the way in which a left-leaning reporter wrote a profile of the firm's founders that was fair and balanced, not being sarcastic, and because of that led to the conclusion that corporate funding of political action was necessarily bad for Americans as citizens. Despite which the reporter actually liked the dynamic duo. Odd the world is.