Threats or not, Ma's popularity remains in a ditch, and is likely to stay there for the foreseeable future. Both the prediction market at NCCU and current polls appear to say Ma would lose if the election were held today, though much depends on who the DPP runs. The Liberty Times trumpeted today (via Taipei Times translation):
The embarrassing truth about how President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has concerned himself with electioneering rather than running the nation is becoming clearer by the day. Despite this, his approval rating keeps falling. Not only Taiwanese, but also foreign academics are starting to doubt his chances of re-election.But the Liberty Times is wrong on what Rigger thinks; Rigger said in a Q&A session at a hearing this week that she thinks Ma's chances of losing in 2012 are remote. But then she believes him competent, too. It's striking to read the Liberty Times editorial and see how remarkably fact-free it is; not a single policy, poll, or survey is cited, and it comprehensively misunderstands Rigger's position on Ma. There's a better piece in today's LT that more correctly describes and addresses Rigger.
Shelley Rigger, associate professor of political science at Davidson College in North Carolina, recently said Ma’s prospects for re-election look bleak because of his abysmal approval rating and public dissatisfaction with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
I was reading an interesting piece the other day (sorry, can't recall where) that asserted that studies show that when an erroneous position is not refuted, belief in it is low, but when it is publicly refuted, belief in it rises dramatically, a sort of academic confirmation of Darwin's observation that false theories quickly die, but false facts are impossible to kill. Counterintuitive results like that one may help explain the ongoing problem in my own family that is replicated across many Taiwan families: gangsters preying on seniors. No matter how many times we explain to my father in law, no matter how powerful our evidence, no matter who presents it to him, he continues to believe that the storage sites for ashes in local columbariums actually exist and that he will make a killing on their sale once they are sold. It's basically swampland in Florida....
My sister in law walked into their house the other day to find him once again handing over NT$90,000 to scammers right in his living room. She was shocked; most everyone in our family could use the money, but he gives it to complete strangers for nonexistent investments. She found out that the scammers had loaded the families onto buses and then driven them around northern Taipei county, pointing to columbariums and saying "yours are here, and your sites are there," etc. Could it be more completely transparent?
It's not like everyone hasn't talked to him about it. Not only my savvy investor brother in law, who is a sought after manager in local tech firms, my wife, myself, my sister in laws, both highly educated, but also a relative who runs a funeral home and knows all the sites personally have all carefully explained to him that it is all a scam. Moreover, he lost all his life savings in a previous scam but still hasn't learned to be cautious. All over Taiwan, families face this problem. It's one that is in serious need of government action, one that could benefit whatever party tackled it.
Twain once said that you can't reason a man out of what he wasn't reasoned into. But surely, there must be a way. Because after their savings comes the house they own...
- A Harvard magazine roundtable on China. Also, a review of Deborah Brautigan's new book on China in Africa that challenges assumptions.
- Richard Bush's testimony on China-Taiwan relations.
- Dogfighting over the Taiwan Strait (Wired.com)
- Japan's Hatayama meets with China's Taiwan people. Can anything good happen?
- Thank god the nuisance from Taiwan's democracy is going to stop intefering with the serious purpose of making money. Luckily some of the commenters are more rational.
- AFP reports on US officials saying that there has been no retaliation from China over the arms sales.
- Amnesty International's open letter on the death penalty in Taiwan.
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