Bits and Pieces… March 2, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in The Left, US Politics.
I love the Romney campaign. Never has it been harder, or so it would seem, for a plutocrat to rein in his propensity to spill the beans on his actual lifestyle rather than the ‘one of us’ line that his advisers would so like him to present…So as the Irish Times noted…
Mitt Romney at times played into voter perceptions that he is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary voters in a state that has been hit especially hard by recession and foreclosure.
He told Michigan voters that his wife drove two Cadillacs…
Pesumably not simultaneously, but the next quote is almost beyond brilliant…
…and mentioned that while he did not follow stock-car racing closely he was friends with several team owners.
Hey? Hey??? What’s the problem?
George W. Bush, the most recent, came in for no end of stick over his patrician background, but there’s no question he was extremely adept at finessing, indeed concealing, that background. Romney? Not so much.
Slate had an article on Ron Paul financial supporter, Pay Pal founder and billionaire Peter Thiel. He’s a libertarian, and while I’m not immune to certain currents in libertarian thinking I’ve seen the following line appear as well.
“I’m sort of skeptical of how much voting actually works in the first place,” says Thiel. “I used to think that it was really important to directly change the political system, to convince people of things. I still think it’s intellectually very important. Occasionally, you get some converts that way. But it’s really an inefficient way of doing things. One of the things I like about technology is that when technology’s un-regulated you can change the world without getting approval from other people. At its best, it’s not subject to democratic control, and not subject to the majority, which I think is often hostile to change.”
“Yeah: You never compromise, except in every specific instance. So, when you look at PayPal or Amazon, or Vis, or all these people, the question you have is: Were they doing this because it was a deeply felt ideological thing, that they had to do this? Or was it because the government had its screws on them? There’s sort of this liberal/libertarian argument: Companies are bad, and not to be trusted. I tend to think we need to put it against the background of insane regulation.” How insane? “The average American commits three felonies a day.”
I liked the following comment on Slate in response to the above…
I wonder if Theil would choose regulated or unregulated pharmaceuticals and medical devices for his own care and that of his family? I also wonder if he would use an unregulated airline flying aircraft that were produced without any regulatory oversight? Would he build his home next to an unregulated coal fired power plant?
I also like this:
“The weakness in their position lies in that they are merely business men. They are not philosophers. They are not biologists nor sociologists. If they were, of course all would be well. A business man who was also a biologist and a sociologist would know, approximately, the right thing to do for humanity. But, outside the realm of business, these men are stupid. They know only business.” From “The Iron Heel” by Jack London. http://london.thefreelibrary.com/The-Iron-Heel/4-1
That said there’s an interesting New Yorker piece on him here where he says some intriguing stuff… and an entertaining pen portrait of a dinner he holds with a variety of individuals…
Meanwhile, if you can try to get hold of Little Atoms podcast with Matthew Sweet who has written a book on ‘The West End Front’, the history of hotels in London during the Second World War. There’s a great – and telling – anecdote how Communists marched on the Savoy because it was regarded as a bomb proof building due to its construction whereas most people living in the area around it had to depend upon much less safe shelters [for more on this see here].
As to the events in the Australian Labor Party, the infighting between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and recently resigned foreign minister and former Labor leader Kevin Rudd may have seemed inexplicable to many given the lack of distinction between their policies. But it was Gillard who supplanted Rudd a couple of years back and Rudd apparently has never come to terms with that. As the Guardian noted Rudd was given the opportunity by Gillard to contest the leadership. And… well… it didn’t work out so well for him.
The Labor party room voted 71 to 31 to retain Gillard as its leader and therefore as prime minister. It ends a week of vicious bloodletting by Labor parliamentarians, brought to a head with Kevin Rudd’s resignation as foreign minister so he could mount a challenge. ”I can assure you that this political drama is over,” Gillard told a news conference. She said the Labor party would now unite and focus on winning the next general election, due in 2013.
But why did this happen now? Well, as the Guardian reported last week…
Speculation about a leadership challenge has been going on for months. At its heart is Gillard’s dismal showing in opinion polls. On current trends, Labor faces being wiped out at the next election due in 2013, with just 30% support.Gillard blamed Rudd for what she described as a long destabilization campaign against her government and leadership and said the debate over the leadership was a distraction “obscuring our ability to talk about reform.”
And this outline of party polling here suggests just what’s at stake with the opposition on 53%.
The national poll of 1,400 respondents, taken from Thursday to Saturday (2-4 February 2012), shows the Coalition with 53% of the two-party vote (down four points since December) ahead of the ALP on 47% (up 4).
On primaries Labor is on 33% (up 4) and the Coalition is down four points to 45%. The Greens lead the minor parties with 13% of the vote (up 2). Family First is on 1% (down 1), and independents are on 5% (steady). Other parties are on 3% (down 1).
This is the highest primary vote for Labor since March 2011 and its best two-party preferred vote since November 2010. Despite this improvement, Labor’s primary vote is still down 5 points on the August 2010 election. The Liberal and National parties would win an election held now with a two-party preferred swing of around 3%.
But it’s not just the party polling. Rudd can comfort himself with the following:
Kevin Rudd is the nation’s preferred Labor Leader according to the latest Nielsen Poll. The national poll of 1,400 respondents, taken from 2-4 February, found that 57% of voters (down 4 points since October) prefer Mr Rudd as ALP leader, while 35% (up 5) prefer Julia Gillard.
Interesting, isn’t it, how few were swayed by those sort of figures. For….”Gillard’s leadership vote was the best result of any Labor leader in a challenge in 30 years.”
And lastly, for now, here’s a great site for anyone interested in polling data. It’s from Gallup, the polling company, and it’s well worth a look.
And here’s an intriguing view of US politics. Why it’s the Catholic vote. Tellingly Catholics have been generally more supportive than most US citizens of Obama – one wonders what digging into various demographic aspects of that vote would reveal. But they slipped a little behind over the contraception issue of recent weeks.
But note how Obama’s job approval rating is now up 47 per cent, a significant increase on his 41 per cent rating in October of last year and 40 per cent August. Those extra percentage points are crucial for him to win.