political convention

political convention

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Luring Brother Jeb into the Presidential Race

Slate and other sources reported this week that anonymous pollsters have been calling voters in New Hampshire to ask whether they have favorable or unfavorable opinions of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Not a surprising request as the New Hampshire primary approaches.  However, the  callers seemed to have something else in mind.  They wanted to know what voters thought of Jeb Bush and who they would choose in a general election matchup between Bush and President Obama.

Who was behind the polling?   The callers sounded well trained and a lot of people got the calls.  It appears that someone with money doesn’t like what’s been happening so far in the Republican race and they think George Bush’s brother may be the remedy. 

Jeb is a former Florida governor who has a reputation for being sensible on some issues like immigration but solid right and intractable on abortion and gay marriage. He also fits the Republican mold on taxes and the economy.  Most important right now is that he’s not flakey like Gingrich and not as fumbling as Romney.  

It’s too late for Bush to enter the New Hampshire primary, but others might be open to him.  The Republican bigwigs are drooling, though Bush says he isn’t interested in running. 

By the way, below are the first two paragraphs of a relevant post from LaughingStockNation, 
June 15 2011.  

The Useful Idiots of the Republican Party

Stalin and other cynical leaders of the Soviet Union regarded communist activists in the west as “useful idiots,” na├»ve pawns in the war against capitalism. Used to infiltrate western institutions, they were doomed to be eliminated when the moment arrived for the real forces of revolution to take over.

Some observers are now beginning to wonder whether far right Republicans and Tea Partiers, along with their favorite presidential candidates, are serving the same purpose. Biding their time are the real Republican power brokers, people like the Koch brothers and Karl Rove, who will anoint their champion when the time is right. Think Jeb Bush.......

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tax Compromise? For Republicans it Adds Up to Zero

LaughingStockNation recently observed, with typical cynicism, that people admire political compromise because they believe naively that it's an automatic route to the truth (“A Political Dictionary of Slippery Words,” 11/24/11).  Now the New York Times has published a letter to the editor (12/7/11, page A26) that makes much the same point with more eloquence and precision.  The writer, Leonard S. Charlap of Princeton, N.J., rejects the notion that the two major political parties have equivalent records dealing with key issues like tax increases.  The Democrats have repeatedly offered and accepted compromise.  The Republicans, in the thrall of Grover Norquist and his infamous pledge, have been unyielding. Charlap, who identifies himself as a mathematician, offers an insightful illustration of why compromise in this case is practically impossible:  “I will give an arithmetic analogy,” he writes. “Suppose you want to determine 2 + 3.  The Democrats say it is 5 while the Republicans say it is 23.  It does little good to compromise on 14, which is the average.  Your bridges will still fall down.”   His analogy, in addition to its relevance to current tax and budget issues, shows why contrasting political paradigms can’t simply be tinkered with to arrive at some magical “middle ground.”   In this case, one paradigm is based on arithmetic reality, 2 + 3 = 5.  The other views numbers merely as characters with no quantitative meaning: 2+3 is simply 2 followed by 3.  Numbers like the ones favored by Republicans can be used to fool people or to browbeat an opponent.  But they don't add up. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's in a Name? Things Some People Are Calling Newt

Now that Newt Gingrich has jumped to the top of the Republican presidential polls, it’s time to confront the issue of Newt's name.

Like Bill Clinton, Gingrich took the last name of his step father, though he kept his biological father’s first name, which was Newton. It is unclear when he became known as “Newt.” But it is that transformation that is now inspiring certain diminutives, sobriquets, and pejoratives. Cable television hosts, for example, are calling the former congressman and speaker of the house, “the Newtster” or referring to him as a kind of political salamander.

The position of speaker, which Gingrich held from 1995 to 1999, is second in the order of presidential succession behind the vice president, so using these terms to describe such a lofty person is, well, despicable. Nobody publicly called President Grant a drunk while he was in office.  President Harding, a gambler and fraud monger, was dissed most often for preferring golf to governing. And former vice president and Maryland governor Spiro Agnew, who was jailed for corruption, was never called Mr. X, though he was an ex-vice president, an ex-governor, and an ex-con.

But there is something about the name Newt that draws malicious attention. It is true that a newt is a kind of salamander, a slippery creature that lives in muddy environments. And Newt sounds like a linguistically strange construction used in a folksy southern patois, like: “I newt the boy’d turn out t'be sum-un ‘portant.” It may just be impossible to retain an aura of seriousness when calling Newt Newt.

Of course, playing around with someone's name can be hurtful, even though it amuses some people. But exploring the various permutations of a name can also be instructive, providing clues to the intentions of people using the name and the person who owns it. The following examples are presented in that spirit.

Newter: Removing the private parts of a male dog; sometimes used as an analogy for emasculating one’s political enemies.

Newtral: A synonym for non-partisan; equal to being cast into hell.

Newtrino: A weakly interacting subatomic particle. Also an Italian term for “small neutral one,” used originally in Dante’s Inferno.

Newtron star: A remnant of a collapsed massive star prevented from complete disintegration by quantum degeneracy.

Newtrition: Unexplained girth, usually the result of pontificating while eating.

Newtria: A large rodent similar to a beaver.

Newtnik: An annoying bore or crank.