Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Frist Declines to Run for President

In the second post-Rumsfeld casualty of the 2006 elections, Frist has decided not to run for President in 2008. Plainly, whatever he says about "sabbatical " or "family", he is taking heat for being unable to keep the Senate in Republican hands.

I think also that he realizes that his pro-stem-cell position kills him with the religious right, and the Republicans will, amazingly, swing even further to the right in 2008. The argument: did Bush lose moderates or the base? seems to have an obvious solution - moderates. But "the base" wants to be fed. And Congressional Republicans will have to feed them with rhetoric because they can't give legisltaion. That puts Frist in a terrible bind.

So who's running in 2008 for the GOP? McCain, Giuliani, er, Jeb Bush?


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Historical Precedent

"I’m not going pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."
--President George W. Bush, speech in Riga, Latvia, November 28, 2006

This kind of determination always sounds good, but it fails miserably when the battlefield and mission were poorly chosen in the first place. In the case of Iraq, the original mission (WMDs) was hollow and the new mission (quell insurgency) was thrust upon us. And we did not choose the battlefield: it was Al Qaeda that decided to fight us in Iraq, not the other way around. It was never our plan to fight Al Qaeda there... they weren't even in Iraq before we got there.

I thought I might recall a few other instances where such simplistic stubbornness got us into trouble, or would have done:

The Vietnam War expands to Cambodia and Laos, 1969-71

The German army breaks itself against Stalingrad, 1942-43

"The Miracle of Dunkirk" 330,000 allied soldiers evacuate France, 1940

ANZAC troops are slaughtered at Gallipoli, 1915


Monday, November 27, 2006

Predictions for 2008 - Senate

It's never too early to talk about the future. I suggest here that the Democratic majorities in Congress will remain, at least in the Senate, because of the very skewed 2008 electoral map.
21 Republicans, 12 Democrats up for Re-election in 2008. Many of the Republicans in blue-trending states are expected to retire, leaving ripe open seats, and the Republicans who won razor-thin races in 2002 in blue states are up for re-election.
Prediction: Democrats pick up 2-3 senate seats in 2008. New 2008 Senate: 51-52 Dem, 2 Independent, 46-47 Republicans. A detailed examination follows.

Republican Seats (21 up for re-election):
Wayne Allard (CO) may retire Highly Vulnerable
Open or not, Allard's 51% victory in a state trending very blue means that this is the top prospect for Democratic pickup in 2008.
Norm Coleman (MN) Highly vulnerable
Amy Klobuchar's drubbing of the Republican, plus the traditional liberalism of Minnesota, make this a tight race for the rookie Senator.
John Sununu (NH) Highly vulnerable
New Hampshire evicted almost all its Republicans in 2006. Sununu will be in a lot of trouble in 2008. Top prospect for Democratic pickup.
Gordon Smith (OR) Highly vulnerable
Oregon has been trending blue.
Susan Collins (ME) Vulnerable
Like Chafee, the "moderate" Collins could be buried as New England turns away from her party. Democrats control both houses and the governor's seat there.
Michael Enzi (WY) Vulnerable
Wyoming has a Democratic governor (Freudenthal) and this year the Democrat lost in the at-large House race by about 1,000 votes. Moderate libertarian Democrats can win in Wyoming.
Saxby Chambliss (GA) Vulnerable
Hated by Democrats and will be a major target in 2008. Unlikely to win unless Chambliss commits gaffes, which he is wont to do.
Elizabeth Dole (NC) Vulnerable
Heath Shuler for Senate? Stay tuned.
John Warner (VA) may retire -Vulnerable if open
Virginia has now had two Democrats in a row for governor (Warner and Kaine) and Webb unseated a sitting Republican. Warner is too respected to lose, but right-wingnuts despise his willingness to oppose Bush on the war. An open seat would draw out a right wing Republican who would lose to a moderate Democrat.
Ted Stevens (AK) may retire -Vulnerable if open
Alaska politics is very strange. There hasn't been an open seat in the Senate for years, as Murkowski advanced to the governor's mansion, then appointed his daughter to fill the seat. An open seat would be fair game for a Tester-style Democrat.
Mitch McConnell (KY) may retire -Vulnerable if open
An open Kentucky seat would be a re-run of the Corker/Ford race, but Kentucky is more northern.
Pete Domenici (NM) may retire- Vulnerable if open
An open seat would be easy pickings for a blue-trending state where Democrats control the governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature, plus one of the senators.
Lamar Alexander (TN), Lindsey Graham (SC), Jim Inhofe (OK), Pat Roberts (KS), Jeff Sessions (AL), John Cornyn (TX), Larry Craig (ID), Thad Cochran (MS), Chuck Hagel (NB) All Safe.

Likely result: Democrats +3-4 (Colorado, New Hampshire, Oregon or Minnesota, plus at least one of the likely open seats)

Democratic Seats (12 up for re-election)
Mary Landrieu (LA) Highly Vulnerable
This will be the top Republican target in 2008. She may be punished for having done too little with Katrina.
Mark Pryor (AR) Vulnerable.
He will be on their target list 2008, and if they can paint Pryor as a tool of a liberal Democratic caucus, and if the election is trending GOP, they have a chance.
Tim Johnson (SD) Vulnerable
South Dakota is conservative, but Johnson is popular. His biggest rival, Jim Thune, is now in the other senate seat. Hence "vulnerable" rather than "highly vulnerable." Likely to be top GOP target in 2008.
Max Baucus (MT) Vulnerable
Republicans will want this seat badly. It will be on their target list 2008, and if they can paint Baucus as a tool of a liberal Democratic caucus, they have a shot. However, Baucus has great staying power and will probably win again, as he has for the past 25 years.
Frank Lautenberg (NJ) may retire Vulnerable if open
New Jersey elected Menendez handily, but he was vulnerable because the state is unhappy with years of corrupt Democratic politicians like McGreevey and totally unsympathetic bean counting job-jumpers like Corzine. A moderate Republican could win here. The question is really whether the GOP can still produce moderates in the Northeast. If they can anywhere, it will be in New Jersey.
Tom Harkin (IA) may retire Vulnerable if open
Iowa has now elected two Democrats in a row for governor, and Dems control both houses of the legislature. Still, it's a swing state.
Jack Reed (RI), Jay Rockefeller (WV), John Kerry (MA), Carl Levin (MI), Joe Biden (DE), Dick Durbin (IL) All Safe

Likely Result: Republicans +1 (Louisiana or Arkansas)



Sunday, November 26, 2006

Royal Flush

We have been spending a lot of time on American politics, and rightly so. However, I am now watching French Politics. They are setting up for an election in April 2007 and I suspect it is going to be very exciting.

The big news is that Ségolène Royal took 61% of the Socialist party vote (in an election with an 82% participation rate including 70,000 new party members) last week and will become the first woman to run for the French Presidency. The Economist calls this a landmark in French politics because Royal did not come from the party elite. She did not “work her way up”. Instead, she took advantage of the new “party primary” system used by the party and created a base of support by playing the image game. She purposely distanced herself from Paris despite being an alumna of ENA and having served as an advisor of Mitterrand. An ENA mate as quoted in the Economist says of her, “Everybody thinks she is nice and not clever. But the truth is she is very clever and absolutely not nice.””

Her nemesis, Interior minister Nicholas Sarkozy, ran for the center-right UMP. He has been something of a revolution in his own right. He never attended ENA and is the son of Hungarian immigrants. He enjoys mass appeal among the French, but has seen his star fade a bit due to his handling of the riots last spring. He is a straight talker who appeals to middle class voters.

Then there is Le Pen. NPR reported last week that he may enjoy a boost in the next elections. Apparently, the French have forgotten what happened the last time they lodged protest votes. Le Pen made it to the final round of voting, which forced voters to go for Chirac. Chirac won basically because he was, quite literally, the lesser of two evils. He has proven to be, at best, a “caretaker” president and at worst, a scandal plagued lame duck, a lame duck is who considering another run.

One thing the so called “War on Terror” has managed to accomplish is to feed anti-immigrant (i.e. anti Arab, Muslim) sentiments in France and elsewhere. The riots didn’t help and the French have never been shy about their feelings for North African/Arab/Turkish/Muslim mmigrants. Le Pen’s far right, super-Catholic, super-nationalist, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, rhetoric is appealing to the 18% of voters who say they will support him in April. These are the same 18% who haven't benefited from globalization and who want to retreat into yesterday.

So why should Americans care about French elections? Well on the surface, they don't seem to matter much to use. However if either Royal or Sarkozy win, expect to hear the audible groan in Washington. Neither is likely to “cooperate” quietly with the U.S. And there are some big reasons for the U.S. and Europe to work together: Instability in the Middle East (potential civil war in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Occupied Territories), Afghanistan, North Korea, Darfour, Turkey-EU talks, China, Iran, Koyoto, etc. These are the issues of the next 20 years. And no single country will be able to address them alone. We will need a multilateralist approach. So we should care about our allies’ elections.

Here is an interesting scenario. Imagine the G7 summit in say 2009. Merkel of Germany, Royal of France, and Clinton of the U.S. The faces of politics are changing boys. Watch out!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You won't have Sacajawea to kick around any more...

Yesterday, the US Mint announced a program to put all US Presidents on dollar coins, in order, starting with Washington.

So, the wingnuts finally figured out a way to put Nixon on a coin. What an awful, awful idea. And Herbert Hoover?


Friday, November 17, 2006

Bush Finally Goes to Vietnam

So, GWBush has gone to Vietnam. He is parroting the line that "we'll succeed unless we quit," and seems to think that's the lesson of Vietnam. Of course, the lessons of Vietnam are quite different:
1. A homegrown nationalist foe is rarely the mere puppet of a hostile foreign ideology and outside agitators. Vietnam was not a mere surrogate for the USSR and communism. Thinking it was blinded us to the fact that it was not a proxy war between two equally motivated (or un-motivated) foreign powers, but a colonialist struggle. Iraq is not primarily a fight against foreign terrorists (even if they are there), and thinking so is a recipe for disaster.
2. Time is not on your side. A strategy for victory that requires an occupier to outlast a homegrown foe is doomed to fail.
3. An occupying power has no chance of winning the "hearts and minds" of local people unless it behaves better and treats them better than the homegrown foe. A wonderful new book about the early phase of the American revolution by historian David Fischer called "Washington's Crossing" shows how the British (who had an excellent chance of winning the hearts and minds of their American cousins) blew their chance of crushing the rebellion in the winter of 1776-1777 throught he occupation of New York and New Jersey. They mistreated prisoners, often refusing to take prisoners (claiming that they were unlawful combatants unprotected by the rules of war), raiding and plundering the countryside for food (particularly the hated Hessian mercenaries, who would show up with empty wagons in towns and loot them), and the ever present problem of rape. They also made it clear that colonial government as they had known it would not be permitted to resume.
4. Truly remaking a country, as in Germany or Japan, succeeded because it was preceded by a total defeat and submission of the people, plus overwhelming military force during occupation that behaved honorably. It also succeeded because it worked with existing institutions (e.g, German political parties).


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Iraq War Casualties Update

Here is an update to an older post. Figures are taken from and represent U.S. casualties only (not all Coalition casualities).

[click on graph to enlarge]

I have added two linear regression trend lines. On the one hand, as has been discussed on this blog before, a linear regression is somewhat arbitrary since there is no reason to expect a linear relationship. On the other hand, it is a crude and common statistical measure that makes a simple point: security for our troops is not improving. If anything, it is getting worse.


Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

Milton Friedman died this morning. Though a towering figure in the field of economics, Friedman was probably not, "the most influential economist of the 20th century," as NPR described him (Keynes might have had something to say about that...) nor did he win the Nobel Peace Prize, as NPR also mistakenly reported. (The Nobel prize Friedman won was, of course, for Economics.)

Friedman was, however, the most renowned and eloquent exponent of the libertarian view of economics of his time. He wrote for Newsweek and PBS. He served as an economic advisor to President Reagan. He argued against anything he considered government interference in the marketplace. He held that the Keynesian notion of counter-cyclical spending was dangerous nonsense. He believed the Federal Reserve had exacerbated (if not caused) the Great Depression by attempting to meddle with the money supply. He famously advocated replacing the Delphic Federal Reserve Board with a computer that would set interest rates by a transparent, predictable algorithm. He advocated the flat tax and the negative income tax as the only acceptable forms of social engineering. Above all, Friedman argued always that what he considered to be economic "freedom" was the surest path to political freedom.

When I was a senior at Cal, I took a course on public sector economics and our professor strongly encouraged us to read Friedman's book, Capitalism and Freedom. She wanted us to read it not for enlightenment, but because, "It is important to understand the enemy." I imagine Friedman would have been honored to hear himself described that way. For though she disputed nearly every sentence he wrote, my professor grudgingly admired Friedman for his intellectual honesty... a sadly scarce quality in right-wing academics these days.

For his many brilliant contributions to economics, and most of all for the sincerity with which he approached his work, I mourn Friedman's passing.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Glass Three-Sevenths Full

The 4-3 court decision in New Jersey two weeks ago regarding gay marriage was a big victory for gay rights. When most papers reported the case however, it sounded to many like it was yet another razor-close split between liberals vs. conservatives. But in point of fact, all seven justices ruled that gay relationships and straight relationships deserved equal respect and benefits! The only difference was that four of the seven didn't think it absolutely had to be called "marriage" while the three "dissenters" did. That's huge, people!

Oh, and in other news, the South African government voted 230-41 today to become the fifth nation to legalize gay marriage. They followed the decision of the Constitutional Court which interpreted Chapter 2, Section 9 of the new constitution to require equal marriage rights:

1. Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
2. Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.
3. The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
4. No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.
5. Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair.

Like Canada did and (it looks like) the State of Massachusetts will, South Africa's lawmakers chose to ratify the court-endorsed right to same-sex marriage rather than amend their constitution to eliminate it (as the State of Hawaii did). Three cheers for the A.N.C.


Vatican enters Muslim veil debate

That's a headline from the BBC today. Do you feel like reading the article or do you agree with me that, no matter what, nothing good could possibly be printed under such a headline?


Rumsfeld on Trial?

It was reported today in Deutsche Welle that a human rights group is suing Don Rumsfeld and 11 other US officials, including George and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez.

The plaintiffs, a New York based group, say that since Congress has failed to properly investigate the crimes against humanity (i.e. the abuse of prisioners), they had no choice but to use Germany's Code of Crimes Against Interntional LAw, passed in 2002, to seek redress.

I doubt much will come from this. But it is worth noting that the world is changing as is International law. The courts of other nations are extending their jurisdiction to cover crimes under internatioanl law. This isn't the first time we have seen this. There was the Pinochet case back in 2000. Also Canada and Belgium, have passed "enabling" legislation to make it easier for their courts to try people accused of human rights crimes committed anywhere in the world. It is an interesting trend.

On one hand, I am pleased. On the other, it raises concerns. It is one thing if Belgium and Canada want to try people for crimes against internatioanl law, I'd feel a little differently if it were Iran. I have to mull this latest development over a bit more to refine my thinking.


Monday, November 13, 2006

RbR is famous!

Well, not really. But his "picture" is now featured prominently on the ultra-popular liberal blog Eschaton. Kind of cool to know that Atrios is getting something from our little site. (Make no mistake about it, that's our picture) I don't know why he did it, and doesn't seem to be mentioning us ...

Hmmm, must be a problem with my browser. Oh well, as you were.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Is this what your voting experience was like?

I saw this video the vote clip on Daily Kos. And I ask you, if you are white and middle class is this what your voting experience was like? I know for a fact that my parents (who live in an up-scale white suburb of Columbus) have never ever waited for more a few minutes to vote. Is it any wonder that African-American turn out is low?

The Democratic party needs to pass a federal law requiring equal access to voting equipment based on local population and then enforce that law. It is obscene that we let local Republican authorities so transparently depress turnout for their own cynical gain.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Quiz time!

Quick, which of the following states (there may be more than one) will have in 2007 a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators?

Arkansas, California, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania

Answer in the comments.


Nachos, Beer, and Ballotboxes

Do you wan to learn what "heartland" means? Take a look at this. Turns out that counting ballots in the disputed Ohio 15th Congressional District will be put on hold until after... wait for it... a football game. Another red-blue contest (Wolverines v. Buckeyes - referring to uniform colors, of course).


Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Taste of Crow

I could not resist posting this picture. For those of us with bitter memories of how she helped steal the 2000 presidential election for Bush, this was one the sweetest images from Tuesday night. In so many ways, it represents the end of an ugly career.

[As her husband looks on, Kathleen Harris concedes a crushing defeat (61%/38%) in her attempt to unseat Bill Nelson (D-FL)]


Election Reflections: The Democratic Center

The state of affairs as I write:
House: 231 D, 199 R, 5 Undecided (NM1 and WY-AL lean R, CT2 leans D, WA8 genuinely undecided, 1 TBD in a runoff (TX22)). Likely result: 232D, 202R – precisely the opposite of the last Congress.
Senate: 49D, 49R, 2 Independent (VT/Sanders and CT/Lieberman, both expected to caucus with D). Likely effect: 51D, 49R.

1. Democrats captured the national political center. The big story of the night was not the happy rejection of certain right-wing red-meat Republicans (like Santorum). It was the ejection of "moderate" Republicans in favor of truly moderate Democrats in the North, Midwest, and West. In 1994, as in 1974, the tide was carried by the radicals of the winning party. In 2006, it was the moderates who won. This was a vote for normalcy.
2. This is a huge boost for the DLC, and – oddly enough – for ur-liberal Howard Dean with his 50-state strategy. Tom Vilsack's (2-term D governor of Iowa) announcement of a presidential candidacy this morning is symptomatic. Evan Bayh (D-Senator Indiana) was also hitting the airwaves this morning.
3. This is a huge victory for the American West. The Speaker of the House is a Californian. The Majority Leader in the Senate is a Nevadan. Democrats now control the governorships of: Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, and picked up key senate and house seats there too (Montana Senate, CO7, AZ5, AZ8). In statehouses, Dems made significant gains in the Mountain West. The gravity of the Democratic party is shifting to the West, giving the libertarian wing of the party the boost. In fact, the Libertarian party made substantial vote gains in the West this year (their votes were crucial in Montana and will be crucial in WY-AL if it goes to the Dems), a clear symptom of the abandonment of the GOP by the small-government voters. Montana's legislature is now split exactly 50/50 – in both houses! Nevada's legislature is split also.
4. New blue states: Ohio, Colorado, and Iowa. All three have Democratic governors, one Democratic senator, and new Democratic representatives. Democrats control both houses of the CO and IA legislatures. This has huge implications for 2008.
5. New purple states (swing states): Arizona and Virginia. Yes, both states have Democratic governors. In AZ, the Dems made legislative gains, getting 28 of 60 seats in the House. Same in Virginia. AZ became the first state in the union to defeat a gay marriage ban on the ballot. AZ banned smoking in public places and raised the minimum wage. John Kyl(R)-AZ re-election was closer than predicted. In VA, there is a new Democratic senator, who would have won by a larger percentage but for 26,000 Green Party votes.
6. State results shows this national shift was not just about Iraq. 6. At the state level, Dems now control 23 state legislatures, Republicans 16, 10 are split (one, NB, is 'nonpartisan'). Democrats seized one legislative house in MI, PA, WI, OR, IN, two in NH. . Even where parties did not shift, Dems made gains almost everywhere outside the South. Only in CA did a moderate Republican hang on, because he went to the center-left.

I welcome your comments on this analysis.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bill Hicks quote of the day

I might do a few of these. Bill Hicks was a comedian unafraid to take on the Bush administration -- the first Bush administration. Most of what he said is still just as valid today, even frighteningly so. Here's a sample:

People would say to me, 'Bill, you vote for Clinton, he's gonna raise your taxes. A vote for Clinton is a vote for higher taxes.' See, I have news for you, folks -- the reason I didn't vote for George Bush is because George Bush (along with Ronald Reagan) presided over an administration whose policies towards South America included genocide. So the reason I didn't vote for him is because he's a mass murderer. I'll pay that extra nickel on a liter of petrol just knowing that little brown kids aren't being clubbed to death like baby seals in Honduras so Pepsi can put a plant down there.
Thank you, America, for more or less following this logic yesterday.


O! H!

Ohio Elected Officials, 2006
Ohio Elected Officials, 2007
Governor: Bob Taft
Lt. Governor: Bruce Johnson
Attorney General: Jim Petro
Secretary of State: Ken Blackwell
Treasurer: Jennette Bradley
Senators: George Voinovich, Mike DeWine
Governor: Ted Strickland
Lt. Governor: Lee Fisher
Attorney General: Marc Dann
Secretary of State: Jennifer Brunner
Treasurer: Richard Cordray
Senators: George Voinovich, Sherrod Brown

RbR, you are now allowed to call Ohio a blue state.


Let the fall Out Begin

BIG NEWS! RUMSFELD HAS RESIGNED! Now that the Dems have the Senate, he has had enough.

It's about time. Now let's see who else will fall out of the chain of command!


USA to GOP: Eat Macaca

Although the vote totals are close in Virginia and Montana, the outcome is not in doubt. Only three precincts altogether have not reported in. Democrats have won both the House and the Senate.

George W. Bush and the Republicans are in shock. They have believed that Jesus guaranteed them the right to run the country however they want, without shame, guilt, or responsibility. They were smug that a cowardly, ignorant, and docile public would do whatever they say out of fear of terrorism. They thought they could fix this election, like they did the last two (and in Tennessee), with dirty tricks. They are now waking up to the fruits of their irresponsible behavior.

I'm not going to moderate my words at all now. I don't just want justice. I want revenge. Impeach Rumsfeld. Bury this administration in subpoenas. Hold hearing after hearing on the lies about getting into Iraq. Hold hearings on the coverups of 9/11. Hold hearings on the profiteering and no-bid contracts of Halliburton in Iraq. Hold hearings on why this president won't go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Investigate the Abramoff bribery for real. Hold hearings on abuses under the so-called Patriot Act. Refuse to fund the "military commissions" act. Drag these assholes through the mud. This president is a lame duck. Let's show them that Democrats know how to hunt too, and -unlike Cheney - we don't hit our friends in the face.

Happy Hunting, America! Let's clean house.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Results Open thread

Update 6:30 PM: Yes! Yarmuth over Northup in KY-03. Could be a fun night.

I am SO glad the senate will not have Rick Santorum in it anymore. Bye, Ricky!

Let's have this be an open thread to discuss results as they come in. In particular, I want to keep a close watch on KY-03: if it goes Democratic, it could be a long night for the Republicans.

Fellow citizens, feel free to update in this post or add comments.


Exit Polls

Now, keep in mind that early exit polls do not necessarily mean much. Remember what happened in 2000 and 2004. However, it's worth at least linking to what we have, which you can find here. It's early exit polls for key Senate races. If you are worried about being let down one way or another, I urge you not to look. But some of us (Dr. S) can't help ourselves.



One good suggestion from TBogg, among his predictions:

You should probably TIVO Katherine Harris' concession speech so you can play it later at parties.


Election Day Reports

OK everyone,

Let's hear your election day experiences and reports! I voted a month ago by absentee ballot but if I can get away from the office this afternoon I'll be volunteering at the local Democratic party HQ.

US west will be a poll worker again.

I'm guessing that Bell Curve will be either sleeping, changing diapers, writing his dissertation or eating. DON'T FORGET TO VOTE BELL CURVE!

LTG? Dr. S?


Monday, November 06, 2006

Hi, My Name is Dr. Strangelove, and I'm a Polls Junkie

I have a confession to make: I have become a polls junkie. The unprecedented availability of data, the closeness of the races in the House and Senate, and the chance that the Democrats might finally win something have all combined to fuel my addiction. I have checked far too many political analysis websites far too frequently this Fall.

When you check them more than twice a day, you know it is bad.

I am resolved to go cold turkey after Election Day (yeah right!) so I shall soon bid farewell to my favorite haunts (well at least until 2008) listed here:
New York Times politics
Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball
Iowa Electronic Markets (House, Senate, Congress)
(Many of these sites were originally tips from others--thanks a lot LTG.)

Well, it is a relief to get this out in the open! Now I can leave this foolish addiction behind! Though I suppose I shall have to check these websites on Election Night to watch the results come in: might as well get the payoff, after all these weeks of fretting! And I suppose it wouldn't hurt to give them a couple of days to digest the results and then check them all a couple days afterward to see the final tallies. And then, come to think of it, maybe I should check in just one more time after that to read their post-mortems on the election, so I can feel a real sense of closure. Oh, and then...


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Quarantine This

FOX News is reporting that, "in order to avoid the Bush-Gore debacle of 2000," exit polls will be "quarantined" by the National Election Pool on Tuesday. That is, exit polling data will not be released by the corporate media alliance until the polls close on the West Coast. (As usual, Hawaii and Alaska get ignored.) But I have a big beef with this.

First, early release of exit polls had absolutely nothing to do with the 2000 election debacle. The data was not announced until the polls had closed in Florida, and the "debacle" was that the Republican lawyers, lawmakers, and Supreme Court justices blocked a full statewide recount of votes that would have shown under any standard that Gore was the real winner. Second, 2006 is not a Presidential contest... so why suppress exit polling data from states whose polls have already closed?

FOX says blithely that the quarantine has been constructed to suppress, "the crucial info - which could provide an early hint if a Democratic wave is in fact under way." I am not sure which party would be assisted by suppressing that information, but I am going to guess it is the Republicans, since FOX seems so pleased about it. The sad thing is that, like most Americans, what I really wish could be quarantined on election night is all the posturing, bloviating, and punditry... And now, with no data to report at all, that is all we're gonna get until 9:00 PST, 12:00 EST.

[Note: the article is somewhat unclear, actually. It is possible that the pool will only suppress exit polling data until each individual state's polls have closed--in which case I have no objection. Can anyone clarify?]


Friday, November 03, 2006

Bush Republicans Publicize Nuclear Secrets!

Hi Everyone,

While the press is falling all over themselves chasing the latest Republican sex scandal, people may not be noticing that the New York Times is reporting that US Government website published documents seized from Iraq. This was done under pressure from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee to "leverage the internet(s)" and show how great a decision it was to invade and occupy Iraq. Well, in their efforts to show that Saddam really was trying to build nukes, they published a document that tells you how to build a nuclear bomb.

I think it's fair to say that John Kerry's little gaffe the other day isn't the top news story anymore.



"Mistakes Were Made"

Arab grammarians call the passive voice the majhoul, the hidden or unknown voice. It is a perceptive name. A speaker can use the passive voice to say words that sound honest while hiding the truth and implicating others.

Listen to how Republican Representative Tom Reynolds cleverly employs the majhoul as he "apologizes" on TV for hushing up the Mark Foley scandal: "This Spring, I was told about odd, but not explicit e-mails between Mark Foley and a Page... Even so, I reported what I had been told to the Speaker of the House... Looking back, more should have been done--and for that, I am sorry." Who told Reynolds about the e-mails? Reynolds is silent. Who should have done more? Reynolds implies it was Hastert.

Now listen to how Speaker Hastert weasels his way around the same issue: "I'm deeply sorry this has happened and the bottom line is we're taking responsibility." What has happened for which he is sorry? Who did that for which Hastert purports to express remorse? Hastert avoids those unpleasant questions with the majhoul.

Equally hollow is Hastert's de rigueur remark that, "we are taking responsibility." Apparently, Hastert's version of "taking responsibility" does not include accepting any blame or punishment: Hastert continues to insist he did nothing wrong and he won't even resign his post.

It's just like President Bush's phoney mea culpa for Katrina: "I take full responsibility for the federal government's response." Oh really, Mr. Bush? Then why is it that someone else ("Brownie") resigned--not you? Name a single thing you did to show remorse or do penance! What does it mean to "take full responsibility" when you do not hold yourself the least bit responsible?

The Republican culture of corruption is also a culture of unaccountability. The Republican Congress has offered no meaningful oversight of the most secretive, most power-hungry Executive in history. Let us all hope that the Democrats regain one or both Houses of Congress so we can finally hold this corrupt administration responsible for when, "mistakes were made."


Come on, is Ned Flanders straight?

Apparently the answer from Colorado Springs is "no." A prominent mega-church leader and Republican anti-gay activist has been accused of having a 3 year "arrangement" with a male prostitute. He has resigned but denies the accusations. How much better would his life (and the political scene in Colorado) have been if he had just allowed himself (and been allowed) to be who he was and just live life?

Colorado has recently become Theocrat central and there is a gay bashing ballot measure on the ballot this year to get out their votes. This could depress Republican turnout even more in a state where the Demcorats were surging already.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Prognostication Time

It's all well and good to bloviate, but it's getting time for The Citizens to see if they can call the elections right. Many political sites still list the balance of races in play as "tossups." Sure, that may be the best scientific answer (i.e., the model has a margin of error, so there you go) but it's also not much more useful or interesting than cowpie bingo.

Go out on a limb, Citizens.

My predictions:
Senate: 50(D)-49(R)-1(I). Democrats will pick up Montana, Penn, Ohio, RI, Virginia, and Missouri. Lieberman, an Independent, will take Connecticut in a close race. Not clear who will control the Senate if it is in Lieberman's hands to decide (his promises to caucus with Dems are not convincing).

Reasons: A trend in Virignia and Missouri developing this week should put McCaskill and Webb over the top. Other states show solid, steady poll numbers for Dems. My prediction of a Lamont victory made earlier is now withdrawn, although I think the reasoning still favors a stronger Lamont showing than the polls currently predict.

House: Democrats will pick up around 220-25 seats.

Reasons: Best polling indicates that the Dems seem certain to get 10-12 pickups, with 15-25 "tossups" remaining. Assuming the Republican GOTV efforts do not meet the fantastical expectations some have suggested, this still leaves Democrats picking up 20 seats or above.

Ultimately, the "generic ballot" favoring Dems is just too much of a tidal wave to overcome. Self-identified independents and Democrats look alike in the polls. Outside of the deep South, this means wide Dem victories.

And the rest of you?