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10/3/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Sunday, October 7, 2012 7:25 PM
10/3/12 question and discussion

1-in the absence of theft and unnatural economic imbalances is capitalism the fairest economic system?5
2-what is the point of debate?6
3-how do you market yourself in this economy?5
4-what should be done about White Bear Lake?5

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-what is the point of presidential debate?

Sean: the debates are happening tonight and most people have already decided who they'll vote for, with a tiny fraction of us still undecided. If someone isn't decided by this time they haven't been paying attention! Both candidates have been campaigning for two years, so what is the purpose of this debate? 

Jon: the Nixon-Kennedy debate stands out as one presidential debate that had some real impact.

Sean: sure, it's not what I was asking originally, but that's fair game here. Even if not televised arguments could be seen and points scored.

Mike: there's a famous study saying radio listeners chose Nixon and TV watchers picked Kennedy. Would we miss these debates if we ceased them? Would clever soundbites and attack ads be enough? It's frightening when our fellow citizens are asked questions taught in beginning Civics classes and give such stupid answers. 

Jon: [to Mike] do the debates help your decision?

Mike: I've never had trouble making up my mind so there's no need to watch them.

Jon: might they help the undecided?

Mike: most people watch for the carnage.

Jon: this week I read a headline in the New York Times claiming presidential debates are good for the undecided voters out there.

Art: I'm not up to date, didn't even know there was a debate tonight. Still they're good for us, otherwise we'd just get gossip. The horse's mouth kind of thing. You can affirm your guy isn't a complete idiot.

Eric: what are debates about? I don't think the presidential debates are debates. They're just about the candidates pivoting away from questions they can't or won't answer to speak about subjects they like to talk about. A candidate who seems to sway is considered weak.

Jon: you can't just spew campaign speeches in debates, can you?

Eric: well they're pretty good at it. What's being appealed to is tiny details in the voters' psyches. These are not the Lincoln Douglas debates. What we do here is completely different. Shooting from the hip is not allowed in these debates.

Sean: I think about the moderator, Jim Lehrer. He has a purpose that may not get accomplished. he really wants to know what they believe and in the process of arguing and listening it seems that it illuminates what each person thinks -- they're speaking in front of an audience that isn't entirely a supporter of theirs. In an ideal world Lehrer would like to see the back and forth. The argument that has been made by Romney is not about ideas, but competence. Strictly speaking this is not an argument! I liked listening to Newt Gingrich because he was consistent in presenting philosophical arguments. "Competence" arguments are false arguments; a gloss over the main issues. Lehrer is trying to get past that. Obama is using the 47% stuff. Maybe that's true,  but it's not an argument. It's just name calling. One of the appeals of Jesse Ventura was he didn't do that.

Siva: as to why candidates rely on soundbites, accusations and name calling, it's a marketing game. We're being treated like children.

Sean: society has become childlike

Siva: most of us aren't smart. The US only exists in two modes: Robin Hood (what we have now); people are selfish, looking out for themselves. 2) Rambo; a worldview that needs a bogey man. 

Jon: I recommend the BBC documentary "The Century of the Self". It describes how selling in America changed from selling what we need as groups of people to what we want as individuals. Public Relations was invented to get masses of Americans to behave in certain ways by convincing us we are each special individuals.

Mike: I had a relative who gave me copies of her New Yorker magazine. Therein was a cartoon; a dad is yelling at his family: "it's not selling anything, it's just Niagara Falls!" We are manipulated. I'm curious about Sean's mentioning Jim Lehrer. He is considered credible. The first Obama debates four year ago included Gwen Eiffel. She had just written a book about Obama and got criticized for not being able to be neutral as a debate monitor. Media outlets are scouring their consumers for questions to ask. 

Sean: to me Lehrer represent what it ought to be about, someone who actually wants to know. Wants to know what the issues are. Searching for truth.

Mike: Gingrich might make a good moderator because he is disciplined at debate. I'd like to see them improve.What offends me are the lies and half truths.

Eric: back to Lincoln; he talked about character. Wisconsin's recall was good for their economy! Lehrer is a serious guy who wants to a good job. when he moderates I agree with Sean, he sees it as service to his country. He's become unique. The networks are probably making lots of money off the campaign ads no matter who wins.

Sean: that's what makes CBS/NBC/ABC and NPR/PBS what they are. PBS is free to pursue interests beyond revenue. Your saying the media conglomerates have lost the original purpose. It's just an empty shell no matter what the result. It's entertainment.

Eric: right.

Art: people don't vote on their financial interests. Romney's 47% is shooting him in the foot.  The debate is more philosophical than we give it credit for. There are fundamental differences held by the contestants. 

Sean: the problem is about ignorance. People disagree because they don't understand financial reality. It's not a matter of two opposing viewpoints. Why is the economy the number one issue? This is true in current polling. There is a philosophical disagreement.

Art: I just disagree. I think folks need to investigate better.

Siva: the case of the 47% remark. Romney told that as a truth; it's the supply side/trickle down economics argument. For Romney it is true. 

Jon: speaking of integrity, Ted Koppel recently wrote an essay claiming that Fox News "represented a threat to the Republic." Now, having watched Koppel over many years I have never seen him so dramatic. He is, to my mind, a role model kind of journalist. Bill O'Reilly had him on his Fox News show to discuss it. O'Reilly argued that Fox News does "hard news" to which Koppel replied "but no one watches that on this network. People tune in to Fox News to be reinforced in their existing biases. That's not news." To which O'Reilly replied "it's the business!" Koppel's last word was "I think there was a time when you and I viewed our vocation as a calling." To the extent that our media sources treat these debates the way Koppel, not O'Reilly/Fox News would treat them we are safe from ourselves.


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