Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lies Republicans Tell Themselves

Following the recent election defeat against Obama and the Democrats, it’s been fascinating to see the Republicans debate what went wrong, and how they can fix it for next time.  Everyone seems to be weighing in, with the moderate establishment blaming the hardline conservatives, and vice versa.  What most people seem to agree on, however, is that the re-election of Obama was symptomatic of a strong shift in the nature of the US electorate, and that the GOP misjudged how to campaign to it.  The electorate is now younger, more liberal and less white.  A campaign which would have captured the Presidency in the 1980s will no longer get the votes required in 2016.

There have been shifts like this in other eras and other societies before.  Late ’70s Britain is a good example.  The Conservative Party tapped into an electoral shift away from the strong socialism and unionism of the post-war Labour movement, and Labour lost the ability to connect with voters, not just in 1979, but for a full generation afterwards.  If you want a textbook lesson on how NOT to rebuild after an election defeat, there’s no greater one than British Labour.  Doubling down on what you were doing before, and fighting amongst yourselves, is going to see nothing but more defeats.

The debate then comes down to whether it is merely the style of the Republican message, or the substance of it.  Naturally, the basic values are off limits.  Republicans should always represent less government, greater freedom, peace through strength, strong families, free markets, the right to self defense and choice in healthcare and education.  Of that there can be no compromise.  But nor can you polish a turd.  There are policies and views in the party that are genuine steps towards strengthening those values, and those will simply need presentational polish.  Then there are other policies and views that just stink, make no sense when held up in the light of day, and ultimately do not serve the values.  Changing them should not be seen as “pandering” to the electorate, or segments of the electorate.  It is simply a matter of seeming credible to the average voter.  The GOP didn’t lose because of their relationship with minority voters, they lost because of a credibility gap.  And they lost their credibility, because there are lies that Republicans like to tell themselves – lies that simply make them look like fools.  There are a few of them, but the main ones are:

  1.  Being pro-life is a credible policy position (as opposed to merely a moral one);
  2. Our immigration policy is all about “border security”, not racial prejudice;
  3. There’s no economic problem that can’t be solved with a tax cut;
  4. Obama/Clinton/[insert Democrat here] is a socialist.

I’ll deal with all these in detail in future posts.  But let me say for now that the approach is just wrong on all these issues, and while the Democrats are going to demagogue you whatever you do, if you are saying/doing stupid stuff, it doesn’t help.  The lies have to be unmasked.

If you look at how parties make comebacks from “sea change” elections, it is done by a partial adoption of some of the opposing party’s ground.  Sometimes this is a pander too far, and you end up with a wet government that looks too much like its predecessor (see Eisenhower, John Key, David Cameron…).  That is not what I want to see from the GOP.  The best example of what I mean is Tony Blair’s Labour government, which actually shifted Britain to the right on economic policy, while staying true to their values in domestic social services.  I believe that if the Republicans were prepared to look at fresh ideas and stop telling themselves lies on the issues above, they can modernise sufficiently for the electorate, while maintaining the substantive small government platform that the Tea Party currently seek from them.  This seems to me to be the way forward – not blatant pandering on one hand, or feral Tea Partying on the other.  More an acknowledgement of new realities on certain issues in a way that preserves what makes the Republican Party great, and keeps it as a healthy “big tent” ticket.  That’s how the Right will win in 2014 and 2016.

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WINNING? – Angus Jones and the Two and a Half Men Meltdown

Chuck Lorre must be wondering what God has against him after another of his actors decided to go batshit:

Angus Jones, better known as the character Jake Harper, the adolescent “half” in the title, has released two videos criticising the CBS sitcom, now in its 10th season, as “filth”, and urging viewers to shun it lest they become contaminated.

The 19-year-old actor, who reportedly earns $350,000 per show, making him the highest paid teenager in US television, made the pleas after embracing the Forerunner Chronicles, a California-based Christian group which warns about evil in entertainment.

“Jake from Two and a Half Men means nothing,” Jones said in the videos. “He is a non-existent character. If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching Two and a Half Men. I’m on Two and a Half Men, and I don’t want to be on it. Please stop watching it; please stop filling your head with filth.”

I’m actually moderately pleased for Jones, who at least has not let fame turn him into a Scientologist, bug-eyed commie, or even a ridiculous caricature of a party animal like his erstwhile co-star.  I only wish he had found a better, and indeed, more Christ-like, form of Christianity.

People like those in this group are actually dangerous.  They severely distort the message and mission of Jesus and turn it into some sort of asceticism where people outbid each other in their quest to be more “righteous” than each other.  All that you are left with is bitterness and judgmentalism, which is as far from Christianity as you can get.  It’s not even a sin to watch Two and a Half Men, let alone act in it.  The characters are fictional, and in no way supposed to be role models.  God loves creativity and entertainment – He is the original creator, with an obvious flair for the dramatic.

Sure, it’s a secular show with secular, perhaps sometimes hedonistic concerns.  As a follower of Jesus, Jones may have become convicted that acting in the show was not what God wanted him to do with his life.  But by making a public display, what he has actually done here is dishonour his employer and breached the good faith of his contract.  Now that IS a sin, and so his actions are not of God.

I’m glad Jones is seeking to follow Jesus, but this ain’t how you do it.  I hope he starts to see this group for what it really is, and seeks out fellowship with people who are teaching a genuine gospel.  Christianity is a process of becoming more like Jesus through prayer, study, worship, fellowship and seeking to complete the mission he started.  It’s not about fallen, sinful people telling others what entertainment they can and cannot watch.

Britain: No Longer a Free Country

There are few things more offensive in life than being called an Australian (possibly even if you are one), but even I don’t think you should be arrested for it.  And yet that is what has happened in the UK:

Chelsea O’Reilly, who has a dual British/New Zealand citizenship, says she was “really insulted” by the drunken rant of her Czech-born neighbour Petra Mills, the Daily Mail says.

Ms O’Reilly was giving a statement to police concerning Mills and her husband when Mills stormed over and began screaming at her on their street in Macclesfield, Cheshire, 300km north of London, on September 4.

“She called me a stupid fat Australian b****. Because of my accent there can be some confusion over my nationality. She knew I was New Zealand,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“She was trying to be offensive. I was really insulted. She said she would kill my dog. Bizarrely she then blew raspberries at me like a child.”

Mills was fined £110 for racially aggravated public disorder and £200 for assaulting a police officer, who she kicked during her arrest, the Daily Mail says.

Firstly, Australia can have this woman, because she is a big sook and not behaving like a stoic “she’ll be right” New Zealander ought to.  Awww, so you were insulted?  Boo freaking hoo.  Leave the whinging to the poms.

But the bigger point here is that the law in Britain is a disgrace.  When vicars can get arrested for quoting the Bible, when footballers can get arrested for even using the word “nigger” in a sentence, you no longer live in a free country.  The law must change, and fortunately there are people now campaigning to do it.

Twitter

After once swearing I would never sign up, I’ve bowed to the inevitable.  I am now on Twitter.

I’m still not overly enthusiastic about it as a concept, but it can’t hurt to try it out.  Sometimes you see articles or want to say things that you can’t be bothered blogging about, or would be inappropriate for Facebook, so I expect it will come in useful that way.

As Jesus once said, follow me.  You know you want to 😉

Epic Get-Out-The-Vote FAIL

If Chris Christie amping the President during Hurricane Sandy was the Joel Stransky drop kick of the US Presidential campaign, the failure of the ORCA system was surely the food poisoning?

“While I was home, I took to Twitter and the web to try to find some answers. From what I saw, these problems were widespread. …For starters, this was billed as an “app” when it was actually a mobile-optimized website (or “web app”). For days I saw people on Twitter saying they couldn’t find the app on the Android Market or iTunes and couldn’t download it. Well, that’s because it didn’t exist. It was a website. This created a ton of confusion. Not to mention that they didn’t even “turn it on” until 6AM in the morning, so people couldn’t properly familiarize themselves with how it worked on their personal phone beforehand.

Next, and this part I find mind-boggingly absurd, the web address was located at “https://www.whateveritwas.com/orca”. Notice the “s” after http. This denotes it’s a secure connection, something that’s used for e-commerce and web-based email. So far, so good. The problem is that they didn’t auto-forward the regular “http” to “https” and as a result, many people got a blank page and thought the system was down. Setting up forwarding is the simplest thing in the world and only takes seconds, but they failed to do it. This is compounded by the fact that mobile browsers default to “http” when you just start with “www” (as 95% of the world does).”

End result: “30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help.” That’s what was going on in RomneyWorld. Meanwhile, in ObamaWorld, they were using behavioral scientists to build a gigantic database of current and potential voters and to fine tune their message at a granular level not only to win people’s votes but to get them to turn out.

So basically, a bunch of people who could have won it for Romney ended up staying home.  And, LOL, the system was called “ORCA”!  No wonder Cameron Slater was so confident – he was taking them down from the inside!

Why I Won’t Be Apologising To Whale Oil

Slater predicted the US election result accurately.  I did not.  Good for him.  Bad for me.

The main difference is that I made my pick only four days before the election.  Slater made his about six months ago.

I got it wrong, but at least my prediction was intellectually defensible.  Sure, I should have given the bad polls more weight than I did.  I should have taken Sandy into account.  But I could not have known how godawful the Romney get-out-the-vote effort was going to be.  And this was not a done deal.  Romney was ahead through much of October.  The election was his for the taking.

The odds favoured Obama, but no intelligent person could have written Romney off, and done so so early.  Slater will back that up by saying that he was just looking at Silver’s analysis.  I stand by what I said about Silver also – he’s only as good as the polls he uses, and many of those, even today, do not stand up to scrutiny.  D+11 polls do not get vindicated just because they show Obama winning and he won. 

If you look at where Obama was campaigning and spending money, it is pretty clear that the states the Romney campaign thought were in play were actually in play.  They abandoned North Carolina, and went hard in Wisconsin.  While they may have given some of the published polls more credit than the Romney camp, they too thought that the turnout disparity would be much closer.  I suspect they were pleasantly delighted to see a D+6 turnout.  But if you listen to Slater, who knows so much better than Obama’s own campaign team, they were clearly worrying for nothing!

I look at the post of mine that Slater is using on his blog this morning, and I see nothing in it that I would change.  In fact, the parts about him personally look even more pertinent today than when I wrote it.  If he takes from this the lesson that he can simply apply pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey punditry to New Zealand politics, I pity the blog-reading public.  His blatherings on US politics don’t matter, because NZ has no electoral college votes, but if he wants to be “neutral” and “objective”, instead of getting on team for the big win, he may end up helping to fulfil his own prophecies.  That would be a great tragedy, because if we don’t stick up for our own side, nobody else in the media is going to do it for us.

The Election Has Developed Not Necessarily To Romney’s Advantage…

I am gutted. Devastated. What a disaster.

I’ve followed, and participated in, a lot of elections throughout my life. This one has been the hardest to take by some margin. Most elections you know whether you are going to win or lose. This was one I genuinely thought we were going to win. To lose… well, it’s right up there with the ’95 Rugby World Cup.

It is gut wrenching to think that we will now have four more years of trillions of dollars of debt to add on. That Iran is now almost certain to develop a nuclear weapon. That the possibility of World War Three becomes so much higher. That healthcare will become even more expensive and crush the middle class of this country. In most elections, the stakes are exaggerated, in this one they were not. Obama now has four more years to mess things up. Everyone will suffer.

Two things I always say about elections, however. Firstly, people get the government they deserve. And secondly, we only need to win once and everything changes. The Left need to win every time for things to stay the same. So they can have this one, because they won’t be lucky enough to get an old school moderate like Romney next time around.

How did such a god-awful, incompetent President get re-elected? A lot of Republicans are panicking about this, and the MSM are egging them on. I am not so sure that panic is necessary, or healthy. This was not a rejection of right wing ideas for starters. In fact, if you read the exit polls, a majority of voters were more aligned with the GOP platform than the Donk one. People think government does too much. People don’t like amnesty. People don’t want higher taxes. On ideas alone, Romney was winning. So those who talk about Republicans realigning their platform on that basis are speaking too soon.

Here’s what happened:

1) Hurricane Sandy/Chris Christie. If it weren’t for the big storm one week out, it’s entirely possible that we would be looking at President-elect Romney today, and all the navel-gazing would be on the other side. Romney had a clear lead before the storm, and then it disappeared, as Romney disappeared from TV screens and made way for Obama to look Presidential in a crisis. Then Chris Christie came along and made Obama look conciliatory and bi-partisan. He didn’t have to do that. Michael Bloomberg, who ironically endorsed Obama, refused to meet with him for a photo-op. The storm, and the New Jersey Governor, conspired to put Romney back to square one.

However, the hurricane is not the full story. The hurricane is like the Joel Stransky drop-kick in this sorry saga, but the Springboks didn’t win just because Stransky booted one over. Before the Stransky goal there was a whole game where the greatest rugby team of all time failed to put the game away. And so it was with Romney, bringing us to…

2) Obama defined Romney all summer. Romney sat on his arse before the last two months of the campaign and let Obama’s team paint him as the most evil man alive. If there’s one lesson that should come out of this campaign, it’s that just because what your opponent says sounds crazy to you, it may not sound crazy to low information voters. There were probably hundreds of thousands of women out there who voted for Obama because they genuinely believed Romney wanted to ban contraception. There was no “there you go again” response from Romney on the bulk of these sorts of slurs. Romney made up for it in the latter part of the campaign, but it turned out to be not enough. As for Romney himself…

3) The nominee was flawed. I am not going to sit here and criticize Romney too much. As above, he should have introduced himself to the public and started spending money earlier, but that is the only bone I have to pick with his camp. They ran an otherwise stellar campaign. The real problem was the raw materials. I grew to like Romney as a person throughout the campaign, but the last person you want to run for your party in 2012, when people are hurting, is a flip-flopping multimillionaire venture capitalist with a habit of not being concrete about his intentions. That’s just fish in a barrel stuff for Democrats. The Republicans severely handicapped themselves in nominating him. It is impossible to know, but entirely possible that Santorum would have been a better choice. And in hindsight, maybe the real tragedy of this election was Huckabee’s decision not to enter the fray. I suspect he would have stormed home.

No, the Republicans do not need to change their message. The message is just fine. What they do need to change are the messengers. All eyes are on Rubio now for 2016. Obama got ahead and stayed there because Republicans were too easily demagogued this time around. The party needs to be ready for that next time.

Mulholland Drive Calls the US Election: Romney By a Nose, Democrats Hold Senate

Here’s the current Rasmussen polling (the only poll worth a damn in this election):

Image

There’s been some other polls which rely on Democrats to turn out in the same numbers they did four years ago, but those ones are bullshit.  At the other end of the spectrum are those optimistic Republicans (of whom Dick Morris is the most extreme) expecting a sudden break for Romney a la Reagan 1980.  I really hope this will happen, but this ain’t 1980, Romney ain’t Reagan, and Obama ain’t Jimmah Cartah.  While I could not be more delighted to be proved wrong, I think their optimism is unfounded.  Rasmussen is pretty well on the money.  I would only make minor changes to the map above:

1)  Obama will win New Hampshire.  His liberalism will tip the state back his way, despite NH being Romney’s almost-home state;

2)  Obama will win Ohio.  The early voting drive will push him over, and Sandy has helped him in the state;

3)  Romney will carry Wisconsin.  The Republican machine there is kickarse after the Scott Walker win, and that will be enough to tip him over.

So here’s what my predictions look like:

Image

America will have a new President come November 7th, if I am right.  Of course, I called the last two elections wrongly, so I am just hoping third time’s a charm.  If Obama does pull a win out of his arse, it will be down to Sandy – there’s nothing like a crisis where you get to be the President on TV for three days to make people think you’re not such a bad guy after all, and nothing like kind words from Christie to seal the deal.  Events, as Harold Wilson once mused.

I am pissed off about the Senate races.  The Democrats look like they are about to steal victory from the jaws of defeat yet again.  I’m calling North Dakota (Berg), Wisconsin (Thompson) and Nebraska (Fischer) as GOP pickups, and I’ll go out on a limb and give them Virginia (Allen) and Montana (Rehberg) by a nose.  The Dems will pick up Indiana, a state they should never have won but for Richard Mourdock’s stupidity, and the corrupt and vile independent Angus King will take Maine, caucusing with the Nasty Party.  Elizabeth Warren will prove that even stupid people can win elections by taking Massachusetts, and that will be that.  The Democrats will have 50 Senators, and the GOP will have 49, to narrowly hold the world’s most powerful legislative chamber.

All is not lost, however.  West Virginia’s Joe Manchin is basically a Republican in all but name, and will probably be a frequent dinner guest in Romney’s White House.  With Ryan to break ties, it should be easy enough to get things done on the bulk of issues.  But that’s if I’m right on Virginia and Montana, and those races, in all truth, could go either way.

The House may see a few seats change hands, but I do not anticipate anything more than a slight gain to Democrats, probably no more than ten seats.